Semper Pro Musica Students Perform in New York City

Semper 2018
Front row (seated): Bryce Turner, Maria Dell'Orefice, Ben Quarles, Emily Monk, Joey Tkach, Julia Powers Back row (standing): David Medina, Caleb Evans, Ian Houston, Talia Dugan, Zerek Dodson, Helena Bandy, Rebekah Lambert, Stephen Spink, Nathan Little, Clare Hogan, Sally Tepper, Abby Barto
June 4, 2018

Media Contact: Terry_Goodrich, 254-710-3321
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by Liesbeth Powers, student newswriter

WACO, Texas (June 4, 2018) – Baylor University School of Music student winners of the 2018 Semper Pro Musica Solo and Chamber Music Competition, which includes 14 soloist and four chamber groups, performed recently at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Jared Cook, senior music and french major and winner of the 2018 Semper Pro Musica Organ competition, performed at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City.

Emily Monk, senior instrumental music major, was selected as a soloist with her performance of “Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor” by Claude Debussy.

“I spent months learning this piece and preparing it for this performance in Weill Recital Hall,” Monk said. “By the time I arrived in NYC, I was so excited to experience the city as a performer and for my family and friends to be able to hear me in a world-famous hall.”

Monk remembers looking out at the crowd after playing and seeing the faces of her family and friends. The encouragement was memorable to her.

“I felt so loved and supported in that moment,” Monk said. “Performing is all about making the audience feel something, and I think I was able to make a lasting impression on those that have supported me greatly up to this point.”

A performance at Carnegie Hall came earlier in her career as a cellist than expected and will lead her to seek out more performances in the future. Monk is especially thankful for the creation of the Semper Pro Musica competition in 2015 by Gary C. Mortenson, D.M.A., dean of the School of Music, and the support she received from her cello professor, Gary Hardie, D.M.A., professor of instrumental studies.

“Dr. Hardie’s knowledge and passion for music and this piece in particular made the journey to Carnegie Hall a memorable one, and everything I learned and continue to learn from him will inspire me into the future of my career,” Monk said.

Ian Houston, junior applied music major, performed as part of a percussion ensemble named 3:1 Percussion. The group performed “Mallet Quartet” by Steve Reich and “José / beFore John 5” by Aurel Hollo. The pieces were chosen because of how different they are in comparison to each other, Houston said.

Performing at Carnegie Hall had been a dream of Houston’s since age 10 and was surreal to take part in, he said. Houston remembers the first note played.

“Our group opened the concert for the night, and as soon as we started playing, I thought to myself: ‘Oh my gosh. This is real. We’re playing in Carnegie Hall,’” Houston said.

The months of long and tedious rehearsals leading up to the performance, as well as the performance itself, gave Houston a look into the life of a professional musician.

“Our performance helped me personally understand the environment and stressful nature of playing the stage of an esteemed venue, an experience that we rarely get to see up close as young students,” Houston said. “I think it will continue to shape me as a musician because I’m able to look back and remember the process and apply the work ethic used at that time to current projects.”

Houston said that he is thankful for the assistance of percussion professors in the School of Music; Todd Meehan, Ph.D., associate professor and division director of instrumental studies, and Chris Sies, adjunct professor of percussion. Both attended late-night rehearsals and logistics meetings to encourage the ensembles’ success.

Within his ensemble, Houston is particularly proud of the way they were able to use their rehearsal time at Carnegie Hall.

“We found a healthy mix between seriousness and excitement, and it helped tremendously to alleviate some of the nerves and stress,” Houston said. “We had a ton of fun during that time, while receiving great feedback from Dean Mortenson preceding our performance.”

Those who performed were finalists in a two-round competition that began in the fall 2017 semester and involved more than 120 students, almost a quarter of the School of Music’s student population. The six winners of the solo competition were: Maria Dell’Orefice (piano), Emily Monk (cello), Julia Powers (mezzo-soprano), Joey Tkach (trumpet), Ben Quarles (clarinet) and Bryce Turner (percussion).

The four chamber groups selected as winners were: Baylor Gold Trumpet Ensemble (Abby Barto, Clare Hogan, Nathan Little, Stephen Spink, Sally Tepper and Joey Tkach); Camerata Paula (Zerek Dodson, Talia Dugan and Ben Quarles); BLT Trio (Helena Bandy, Rebekah Lambert and Sally Tepper); and 3:1 Percussion (Caleb Evans, Ian Houston, David Medina and Bryce Turner).

The concert at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church took place on May 23, and the performance at Carnegie Hall took place on May 24. Baylor University hosted both recitals and provided a reception to honor the student winners following the performance at Carnegie Hall, with Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., in attendance.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Our students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, the students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs leading to the bachelor of music education degree conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency.

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