Announcing the 2020 Piano Commencement Contest Winner

Piano Commencement Contest

Maranatha Baptist University’s Music Department hosts an annual contest for MBU musicians. The three categories of the competition include instrumental, voice, and piano. To give student performers equal opportunity, area music professionals judge each category.

Dr. Stanislava Varshavski, this year’s piano adjudicator and a former MBU lesson provider, enjoyed observing the dedicated approach of the musicians. She remarked, “The level of all performers is very high as always. Maranatha Baptist University keeps traditions of a very serious and fundamental musical education. It is very nice to see a young generation loving and understanding classical music.” All contestants well represented Maranatha’s standards of excellence.


The Music Department announces Leah Messer as the winner of the 2020 Piano Commencement Contest. Messer is a music major with piano pedagogy and general music concentrations. She chose Brahms‘ Rhapsody in Gm Op. 79 No. 2 and played it wonderfully. Varshavski said of Messer’s performance, “Leah Messer is a very musical person. She has a beautiful and warm tone.” As the winner, Messer will be eligible to perform in Fine Arts Honors Chapel at the end of the year for a chance to win an additional prize of $100 cash.


Runner-up was awarded to Lorraine Yant with her performance of Sonata in G minor, K. 30 “Cat Fugue,” by D. Scarlatti. “Lorraine Yant played very thoughtfully and intelligently with great sound quality,” the adjudicator noted. Yant is a junior with concentrations in piano and string pedagogy.

About Dr. Varshavski

Dr. Varshavski was born in Kharkov, Ukraine. A young piano prodigy, she had her orchestral debut at the age of eight. In 1998, she established the Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo with Diana Shapiro. Within a few years, the duo won first prizes at international competitions. After studying under the legendary Israeli duo Tamir-Eden, and Professor Victor Rosenbaum in Boston, in 2011 Dr. Varshavski received her DMA degree from UW-Madison. Currently, she is the Director of Music Education at Holy Family Conservatory of Music in Manitowoc, WI.