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Students compete to perform at convocation

The music department held its annual Geoffrey Hall Undergraduate Artist Competition (UAC) on Tuesday, March 5, during which 12 music students performed a series of prepared pieces for a panel of judges. Entry in the competition is selective, as students must apply and have a professor's recommendation to be accepted.

Jaime Morales-Matos, an associate professor of music, has been organizing the competition every year for over a decade. He says the competition began after an endowment from Hall was granted to the music department in order to promote excellence in music.

"It's supposed to recognize undergraduates who succeed artistically and musically," Morales-Matos said. "It's a way for them to compete and excel and prepare for the real world, because in the real world, there's auditions for everything."

Each year, the top three students in the competition win a cash prize as well as the opportunity to perform at the music department's convocation later in the spring. Three finalists are also selected to win smaller cash prizes.

The winners are chosen by a panel of judges comprised of music professors from other universities. Morales-Matos says he tries to invite a diverse group of judges with different musical backgrounds each year in order to get a more well-rounded take on each performance.

Junior Matthew Mac Manus is a vocal music performance major who decided to compete in the UAC this year after spending time preparing a series of songs for his junior recital. Mac Manus usually only competes against or performs with other voice performers, so he enjoyed the opportunity UAC gave him to compete with different kinds of musicians.

"It wasn't just a voice competition, it was all the instruments, and I think [the UAC] was a great way to diversify the talents we have here at Miami and just present them in a way where the students who have worked really hard and prepared this music are able to enter into this experience," Mac Manus said.

Mac Manus took third place in the competition this year, which means he will perform at convocation alongside Emily Prochaska, a senior bassoon player, and Nathan Rayens, a senior pianist, who took second and first place, respectively.

Morales-Matos believes that performing at convocation is a big honor for the winners, as there are very few opportunities for a student to perform in front of the entire department.

"It's a great way to get exposed. Every professor and student from the music department is there so there's some prestige. Winning the money is good too, but I think it's even more for the recognition," Morales-Matos said.

Despite the fact that entry in the UAC is selective, Prochaska says it is a very supportive environment, one that is helpful for students who get nervous about auditioning.

"It's a great chance to give students an opportunity to get that competitive aspect of performance in a supportive environment," Prochaska said. "I heard so many people saying good job and good luck to their competitors as they went in to play."

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The convocation performance that the UAC winners will perform at will be held on Tuesday, April 2 at 11:40 a.m in Souers Recital Hall.