Announcing the 2024 Vocal Commencement Contest Winner

Maranatha’s Music Department has announced the winners of this year’s Vocal Commencement Contest. Besides separate contests for instrumentalists and pianists, vocalists had their own contest to develop their presentation and performance skills. Brian Leeper adjudicated the contest.


In first place, Jonathan Andrews won with his two commencement pieces. Ruth Brown accompanied him on “The Whole Darkness Shall Cover the Earth” by Handel, and Joe Rincon accompanied him on “Non e Ver” by Mattei. Andrews is a Mathematics Major and a Church Music Minor.

Along with the Instrumental and Piano Commencement Contest winners, Andrews will have the opportunity to perform his piece for a professional video on Wednesday.


Accompanied by Grace VanRaden, Benjamin Trueblood won second place with his performances of “If God So Clothe the Grass” by Bischoff and “Bist Du Bei Mir” by Stötzel. Trueblood is a Humanities Major and a Church Music Minor.

After the competition, Leeper remarked, “I appreciate the preparation that all the soloists put into their selections. The overall quality was simply amazing. You are doing great vocal work here at Maranatha. Thank you all for your commitment to the art! The pianists all deserve kudos as well.”


Brian Leeper holds music degrees from Luther College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This year, he celebrates his twentieth year working at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. There, he teaches studio voice, leads opera workshops, and conducts the bass-clef choir, Hawk-Kor. A popular soloist and clinician, he has presented master classes and recitals at numerous universities across the United States, Canada, and Europe. A past-president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), he had served on the voice faculties of three Italian summer opera programs.