Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service

Centenary Students are Collegiate Winners of Monroe Symphony League 2000 Young Artist Competition, Take Both Top Honors

SHREVEPORT, LA -- Two students from Centenary College's Hurley School of Music are the collegiate winners of the Monroe Symphony League 2000 Young Artist Competition held this past Saturday (Jan. 15). They are Alison Beck, a 19-year-old sophomore from Oil City, La., and Walter Wooldridge, an 18-year-old freshman from Bossier City, La.

Beck was the finalist in the piano category, winning over 26-year-old Qing Song, a doctoral student of Michael Gurt at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Wooldridge, a violinist, took first place in the strings category.

The other preliminary round winners were John Bingaman, a senior at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, on the marimba, and Sara Puryear, a graduate student at Northwestern State University, in the voice category.

In the final round, the four preliminary winners competed for and took the two winning positions. Both Centenary students were judged overall winners and earned a chance to play with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra at its March 18 concert.

The Young Artists Competition is an annual event established by the Monroe Symphony League and the Monroe Symphony Orchestra to promote and encourage excellence in musical performance and to provide orchestral performance opportunities for youth and young adults. The collegiate level of the competition is open to all young adults ages 18-30 residing in Louisiana.

Dr. Ross E. Smith, assistant professor of piano at Centenary and Beck's piano teacher, was pleased at the outcome. "Both of them played with such maturity and at such a high level of artistry, I knew this would be the result. This is the first time anybody at Hurley can remember both winning slots being filled by Centenary students. Certainly they are the youngest winners in a long while."

Laura Crawford, lecturer in violin at Centenary and Wooldridge's violin instructor, said "Alison and Walter are both natural talents, but also are two of Centenary's hardest- working music students, practicing many hours daily. The fact that Alison is a sophomore and Walter is a freshman gives some idea of the young talent Centenary is attracting."

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