For the first time in recent history, there was a tie for the music department’s prestigious Cunningham Award which is given to the music student showing the greatest promise in the rising senior class.
At the 2014 Spring Honors Recital, two students, vocalist Katy Wilson ’15 and saxophonist Peter Dimery ’15 claimed the honor which was established by G. Watts Cunningham in memory of his wife.
Wilson, a lyric soprano and student of Tamara Matthews, is working to earn at bachelor of music degree in vocal performance and performs with the Furman Singers and Chamber Choir. She competed in the regional Classical Singer Competition in early 2014 and won the university division, and later this month, she competes in San Antonio, Texas, in the national competition.
“Katy is a phenomenally talented student,” Matthews said. “She’s very focused, and singing is everything to her. She is incredibly accomplished for this age, and I am confident she will make it as a performer. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Dimery is earning bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and music. A student of Dr. Matt Olson, he has performed with the Paladin Regiment Marching Band, Furman Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Bergman Saxophone Quartet, Jazz Combo and Furman Jazz Ensemble. In the spring of 2013, he was a Concerto Competition winner and performed with the Furman Symphony Orchestra.
“Peter is naturally curious about the saxophone and its repertoire and is quite self-motivated. He is becoming the outstanding classical and jazz musician he is capable of being,” Olson said.
Also honored for musical achievement was Philip A. Reed ’15 (vocalist and composition student) who received the Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award which is given to an outstanding music major at the end of the student’s junior year.
The award promotes enrichment and musical advancement and is intended to give the recipient opportunities that are not normally provided in a liberal arts setting.
Reed is earning a bachelor of music in composition and a bachelor of arts in philosophy. He studies voice with Lisa Barksdale and composition with Dr. Sarah Zipperer Gaskins and Dr. Mark Kilstofte. Reed performs with the Furman Chamber Choir and Furman Singers, for which he serves as a manager. He is the founder and director of The Twelve Peers, an elite choral ensemble, and served as the music director of the Pauper Players’ production of Les Miserables.
“Philip loves to wrap his mind around new ideas, styles of music, and composers. He digs deep, thoroughly investigating, then shares his discoveries with colleagues in an accessible manner . . .he is driven by an unending desire to bring great beauty to the forefront of culture.” said Barksdale.
These awards will help the students continue their studies in the fall, and will hopefully contribute to new opportunities post-graduation.