Baylor Pianist Wins
School of Music master’s candidate Cezary Karwowski, a native of Bialystok, Poland, claimed first place in the 2022 Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Piano Competition in March. He was selected from seven division winners, who first had to win at the state level. Karwowski became the first Baylor student to win at the state level in November 2021. He then defeated state winners from Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma in the MTNA South Central Division competition.
Karwowski, who began playing piano at age 7, will complete his Master of Music in performance studies this spring and aspires to be a professional concert pianist. He also plans to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in the United States. Karwowski is a student of Bradley Bolen, D.M.A., who has been senior lecturer in piano at Baylor since 2000.
“This means a lot to me, especially because of the national recognition I have received and the amount of preparation and work I put in,” Karwowski said. “I am very proud to represent Baylor, and I am grateful to be a small part of Baylor history.”
Karwowski also was one of three soloists and one chamber group from Baylor’s School of Music who were winners of the University’s fifth-biennial Semper Pro Musica Solo and Chamber Competition. The soloists and chamber group will perform May 25-26 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York. Tickets are available online at carnegiehall.org and day-of-performance at the door.
Master’s candidate Sylvia Jones, a soprano vocalist from Auburn, Washington, and Max Winningham, a double bassist from Houston, joined Karwowski as the soloist winners.
Baylor’s Fest Quartet, winner of the chamber competition, is comprised of violist Freya Downey, a performance studies master’s candidate from Norman, Oklahoma, and three senior applied music majors: violinists Darren Carter from Dallas and Elise Maas from San Antonio, and celloist Samuel Day from Benton, Wisconsin.
It was Jones’ first time participating in a competition like Semper Pro Musica, and her win was a historic moment for her family.
“My grandmother grew up in Waco but was not allowed on campus because of segregation at the time,” Jones said. “It is incredible that one of her grandchildren is walking in places where she could not. To think about the number of great performers who have performed at Carnegie Hall is humbling. I am grateful to God for this opportunity.”
Baylor School of Music Dean Gary Mortenson, D.M.A., said Weill Recital Hall, where nearly all Carnegie Hall debuts take place, arguably has been the world’s most important recital venue for the past century.
“There are no words to fully describe the thrill to walk into one of the most historically important halls in the world and perform,” Mortenson said. “New York City — like London and Paris — is at the top of the cultural/artistic world. The experience of performing there is an experience like no other in the world of music today.”
The Semper Pro Musica Organ Competition finals, held March 21, included Laura Smith, a freshman performance studies major from Wichita, Kansas; Charles Douthit, a senior church music major from Mooresville, North Carolina; and Vincent Pham, a performance studies master’s candidate from San Diego. The winner will perform in May at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York.