General News News Releases

Graduates receive award from CMU president

Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Mike Wiebe take home President’s Medals for scholarship, leadership, and service

Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Mike Wiebe are the 2015 recipients of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) President’s Medals.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls awarded the medals during CMU’s 2015 Graduation Exercises on April 26. Klassen-Wiebe and Wiebe (no relation) received the awards in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

“CMU has been a very important place for me for the years I’ve been here, so getting this award means a great deal to me,” Klassen-Wiebe says.

Klassen-Wiebe, 22, and Wiebe, 21, were chosen from a group of 89 graduates.

Klassen-Wiebe, who lives in Winnipeg’s River Heights neighbourhood, graduated with a Bachelor of Music, Concentration: Performance – Collaborative Piano.

Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe (left) with CMU President Cheryl Pauls and Michael Wiebe
Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe (left) and Michael Wiebe (right), recipients of 2015’s President’s Medals, pose with CMU President Cheryl Pauls

During her time at CMU, she immersed herself in university life by living on campus, working as a residence assistant, singing in choirs, performing with various music ensembles, and attending chapel services.

She is also involved at Charleswood Mennonite Church and has spent numerous summers working as a camp counsellor at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps With Meaning.

Mike Wiebe, who is originally from Gretna, MB, graduated with a four-year Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Communications and Media. During his time at CMU, Wiebe lived on campus for two years and worked as a residence assistant for one of those years.

He played guitar in worship band, participated in chapel services, sang in a number of choirs, and worked on campus as a sound engineer. Like Klassen-Wiebe, he has spent many summers working at Camps With Meaning.

For Wiebe, highlights of studying at CMU included growing deeper in his faith by studying Mennonite history.

“Aside from my communications studies, courses on Mennonite studies and defining Anabaptism have impacted me and made me excited about work in the church,” he says.

Klassen-Wiebe says she has enjoyed studying at CMU.

“I have loved seeing the interweaving of music and faith through my education here,” she says.

Janet Brenneman, Dean of CMU’s School of Music and one of Klassen-Wiebe’s professors, says Klassen-Wiebe demonstrated what it means to be a music student at CMU.

“She got involved in as many music activities as she could, she took her studies very seriously, she got involved in the life of CMU outside of music, and I think people on campus knew her for her music abilities and beyond,” Brenneman says. “She is hardworking, a fine musician, a much-loved student, and a really great person.”

David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Media and Communications and one of Mike Wiebe’s professors, describes Wiebe as a hardworking, passionate student who demonstrated creativity in his assignments.

At the same time, Balzer notes Wiebe’s contributions to the CMU community outside of the classroom.

“Mike just simply invests in people,” Balzer says. “If he’s passionate about the academic side, I think he’s equally passionate about noticing people and giving what he has to them.”

Both President’s Medal recipients are in the midst of discerning what comes next in life.

Right now, they are working together for the next three months as co-directors of the summer program at Camp Assiniboia, located 20 minutes southwest of Winnipeg.

“I hope that my future will be able to integrate my love of people, of music, and of faith in some way,” Klassen-Wiebe says.

Mike Wiebe says that receiving the President’s Medal has caused him to reflect on his CMU experience and appreciate it even more, because he has realized how invested he was in the university over the past four years.

“This place has really impacted my life… and I think I’ve somehow, in some way, made CMU a part of my daily living,” he says.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over about 900 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

Events News Releases

Students rise to the occasion for Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

‘It’s neat to see the hard work … pay off,’ says winner

WINNIPEG –  Violin, piano, French horn, and vocal performances were all part of the final round of the ninth annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University.

Held on Thursday, March 20 in the university’s Laudamus Auditorium, the competition featured eight performers who progressed from an initial field of 19 competitors.

The competition was exceptional and each of the eight finalists gave outstanding performances, said Janet Brenneman, Dean of the CMU School of Music.

“It was exciting for the audience to see the performers rise to the occasion and genuinely enjoy the experience,” Brenneman said.

“The competition is important because it gives the CMU community, as well as our wider public, an opportunity to see and hear the students perform on their solo instrument. We often present ensemble performances, but this showcases another important aspect of our program: the solo and collaborative performance.

Peter Janzen with finalists (l-r) Rachel Enns, Breanna Heinrichs, Anna Bigland-Pritchard, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, Deidra Borus, Ashley Fredette, Josiah Brubacher, and Sean Goerzen.
Peter Janzen with finalists (l-r) Rachel Enns, Breanna Heinrichs, Anna Bigland-Pritchard, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, Deidra Borus, Ashley Fredette, Josiah Brubacher,
and Sean Goerzen.

Deidra Borus, Rachel Enns, Ashley Fredette, Breanna Heinrichs, Josiah Brubacher, Sean Goerzen, Anna Bigland-Pritchard, and Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe were the eight students who competed on March 20.

Klassen-Wiebe, a fourth-year pianist, was awarded $700 and first place in the competition. Borus, a lyrical soprano who is studying music therapy, placed second and received $500 

Heinrichs, a pianist studying music at CMU, and Bigland-Pritchard, a soprano in her fourth year of her Bachelor of Music in Music Ministry and Vocal Performance, tied for third place. They will share a $300 award.

Peter Janzen with winners (l-r) Breanna Heinrichs, Anna Bigland-Pritchard, Deidra Borus, and Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe.
Peter Janzen with winners (l-r) Breanna Heinrichs, Anna Bigland-Pritchard, Deidra Borus, and Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe.

Reflecting on her win, Klassen-Wiebe said that placing first was meaningful because it meant her performance connected with the judges and the audience, and evoked their emotions.

“I’m super excited that I won the money, but it’s more meaningful because it means I succeeded in my musical goal of touching people,” she said. “That’s better than any prize.”

Klassen-Wiebe added that competitions make her nervous, but she enjoyed the opportunity to perform music she had spent a lot of time practicing.

“It’s neat to see the hard work and emotions you’ve invested into your education and pieces pay off,” she said.

The competition is made possible by Peter Janzen of Deep River, Ontario, and named in memory of his wife, Verna Mae, who died of cancer in 1989 at age 53. Janzen attends the final round of competition each year, and speaks with competitors.

“It’s very personal,” said Klassen-Wiebe, who has competed for three years and spoken with Janzen each time. “I’ve gotten to know him a little bit better each year, and that’s a very cool part of this competition.”

Brenneman added that the event is a friendly competition among the students. They are genuinely excited for each other and always enjoy the performance.

“Many of them comment to me that they forget they are competing against each other – they simply enjoy being on the stage and putting together this great concert with their friends,” she said, adding that the audience is supportive, too.

“Sometimes at competitions, the only people present are a few immediate family members,” Brenneman said. “Here, the entire CMU community is interested in this event and the competitors themselves bring in friends and family from all over. It’s fascinating!”


For more photos documenting the 2014 Verna Mae Music Competition, please click here.

Events General News News Releases

Janzen Competition Showcases Talent

April 9, 2012 – The 7th annual Verna Mae Janzen music competition at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) welcomed audiences for a public performance showcasing CMU’s talented instrumentalists and vocalists. The event required  a preliminary round of performances in the first week of March, followed by the competition finals that took place March 29 in the Laudamus Auditorium.

Competitors in this year’s finals were: Anna Bigland-Pritchard, soprano; Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, piano; Rebecca Hill, soprano; Daniel Bergman, tenor; Josiah Brubacher, tenor; Rocio Martinez, soprano; and Courtney Dugan, mezzo soprano.

CMU awarded first place honours to Rebecca Hill. Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe won second place, and Anna Bigland-Pritchard won third.                                                                From left: Rebecca Hill, Peter  Janzen,
                                                                                                                                                                                       Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, Anna Bigland-Pritchard

The Verna Mae Janzen Competition is made possible each year through the generous contributions of the event sponsor and prize donor Peter Janzen, from Deep River, Ontario. Janzen established the competition in memory of his wife, Verna Mae, who died of cancer in 1989 at age 53 and who shared the joy of singing with her husband. This was Janzen’s seventh year of travelling to Winnipeg to attend the competition.

“As founder of the Verna Mae Janzen competition, Mr. Janzen takes an avid interest in the development of our students,” says CMU competition organizer Henriette Schellenberg. “We are grateful for his interest and for his support for our student musicians and singers. It is gratifying to see the quality of performances, and to see how much our students appreciate having an opportunity to showcase their talents in a competition of this level.” 

This year’s competition juror was distinguished conductor Henry Engbrecht, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies in the Faculty of Music at University of Manitoba. Engbrecht is a renowned conductor within the Manitoba community and abroad. He has trained a generation of conductors and teachers in Manitoba, acting as a model of excellence to them as well.

“CMU very much appreciated the privilege of welcoming Professor Engbrecht as this year’s juror,” says Schellenberg. “Receiving feedback from an expert provided competitors with an experience to grow and learn as musicians.”

The response from the audience to this year’s expanded program was very positive, says Schellenberg. “They really loved the variety, especially this year because of the different instruments.” 

 One thing that has not changed from previous competitions is the excellent performances of the competitors, especially those who reach the competition finals. Says Schellenberg: “I was pleased with the high calibre performances from CMU students and proud of the efforts that went into preparing for the Verna Mae Janzen competition.”