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Pianists converge for Natchez event

Looking for some high-caliber, free musical entertainment? Come to the seventh annual Alcorn Piano Competition from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 305 S. Commerce St.

Talented classical pianists of all ages will come from locations throughout the region to compete for cash prizes while artistically enriching our community. The public is encouraged to attend, and you are welcome to drop in at the time that is most convenient for you.

The morning will consist of performances by young people between the ages of 8-17, while the afternoon will feature college piano performance majors and adult amateurs. The last category in particular separates this competition from others that typically limit participation to college music majors.

Luckily, this feature of the competition allows us to hear from local pianists in addition to students from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas. Another unique feature of the Alcorn Piano Competition includes participants may play solo piano literature as opposed to piano concerti, which require a second piano in lieu of an orchestra.

The competition typically draws famous guest judges, and this year is no exception. The pianists will have the opportunity to hear invaluable feedback from Ilka Araujo, assistant professor of piano and music history at Texas Wesleyan University; Mitch Mckay, assistant professor of piano at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., and professor Karl Ettinger, who teaches piano at Seminole State College in Orlando.

A truly joint effort between Alcorn State University and the City of Natchez, the competition is sponsored by the Alcorn department of fine arts and chaired by David Goldblatt, assistant professor of piano and music history and staff accompanist at Alcorn.  Members of the organizing committee are Vincent Bache, director of music at Trinity Episcopal Church; Liz Dantone; Bazile Lanneau Jr. and Abby Goldblatt with additional support from Alcorn staff and faculty.

The competition is funded by entry fees, private donations and assistance from the university. The competition’s objectives include encouraging the development of musical skills among youth, providing a performing opportunity for students to develop their musical abilities and to heighten awareness of the Alcorn music program.

Anyone who wishes to sponsor a cash prize in honor or memory of an individual they deem to be significant may do so by writing a check to the Alcorn State University Foundation writing “piano competition” in the memo line, and mailing a check to: ASU Piano Competition, Attn: David Goldblatt, 1000 ASU Drive, No. 29, Alcorn State, MS 39096.

Any tax-deductible donation that you can afford to make will benefit the future of young musicians and the growth of the arts in our community. Please feel free to join us for what is sure to be an exciting day of piano music.


Larry Konecky is the chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Alcorn State University.