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2017 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition Winners (video)

1st place performance by Anneli Loepp Thiessen, piano

  • Sonata in C Major XVI: 50, Allegro Molto, Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
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2nd place performance by Emma Heinrichs, pianist

  • Spring Celebration, Stephen Chatman (b. 1950)
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3rd place performance by Nolan Kehler, tenor

  • Lonely House from Street Scene, Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
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Sense of camaraderie marks 2017 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

‘We’re all proud of each other,’ first place winner says

A pianist hailing from southern Ontario is the winner of the 12th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University. Anneli Loepp Thiessen’s performance, which included a piece by classical Austrian composer Joseph Haydn that she learned just one week before the competition, earned her first place and the $700 prize that comes with it on Wednesday, February 15. “It was very exciting,” said Loepp Thiessen, who grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo. “I still feel like I’m a little bit in shock.”

Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition winner Anneli Loepp Thiessen center) with second place winner Emma Heinrichs and third place winner Nolan Kehler.
Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition winner Anneli Loepp Thiessen (center) with second place winner Emma Heinrichs and third place winner Nolan Kehler.

A gifted musician who has played her instrument for 16 years, Loepp Thiessen is in her fourth year of a music degree, with a double major in piano performance and music ministry. This was her third time participating in the competition. Part of what made this year’s competition so much fun is the sense of camaraderie among the finalists, she said. “There’s a sense that we’re all proud of each other, which is a good feeling,” Loepp Thiessen said. “We really had each other’s backs.” “We’re all technically proficient at our instruments, so making the music come alive was the goal,” she added. “I don’t know how the judges made their decision, because everyone of us was communicating so well.” Emma Heinrichs, a pianist in her second year of a Bachelor of Music, placed second and received $500. Third place and its $300 prize went to tenor singer Nolan Kehler, who is completing his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance this April. Alexander Milevic (piano), Elowen Braunstein-Black (soprano), and Alyssa Hildebrand (soprano) also competed in the finals, advancing from a group of 19 competitors. “I’m always very pleased to see how students rise to the occasion when it comes time to perform,” said Dr. Janet Brenneman, Dean of the School of Music at CMU. “The entire evening was a strong showcase of what our students can do.” Margery Koop, a performer, choral conductor, and teacher known for her work with singers of all musical genres, and Darryl Friesen, an acclaimed soloist and collaborative artist who has performed around the world, served as adjudicators for the finals. Brenneman was thrilled to see so many members of the community attend the event. “This event has a following of audience members that attend every year, who are excited to hear the finalists and witness the outcome of the competition,” Brenneman said. The competition possible made possible by thegenerous donations of Peter Janzen of Deep River, ON. The event is named in memory of his wife, Verna Mae, who died of cancer in 1989 at age 53. “We are very grateful to Dr. Janzen, whose generosity and strong commitment to music at CMU makes this event possible,” Brenneman said. For Janzen, sponsoring the event is a way to contribute toward the success of CMU. He wanted to support CMU via a music competition because he and Verna met through their interest in choral singing. “I always dreamed of someday dedicating a memorial to my wife—a wonderful, loving, sensitive, intelligent, and happy companion,” Janzen said in 2007. “Through the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at CMU, I can keep her memory alive.” [ photo gallery ] [ videos ]

 

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 800 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 www.cmu.ca.

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

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Cellist from South Korea wins 2016 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

A cellist who used to dread performing in concert is the winner of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University.

2015.VernaMae.PosterYunah Chin took the top spot and the $700 prize that comes with it after performing along with six other finalists in the Laudamus Auditorium on Thursday, February 11.

A native of Seoul, South Korea, Chin has played the cello for more than 15 years. She moved to Winnipeg three years ago to continue her studies, and plans to pursue a degree in music therapy.

Chin says that in Korea, she didn’t enjoy performing because it made her too nervous. That has changed since she arrived in Canada. Because English is not her first language, she has come to enjoy performing because it is a way for her to communicate with others and express herself.

“It is interesting and fun to play,” says Chin, adding that she didn’t expect to win. “I thought about showing my everything—not getting nervous, and just showing them what I prepared. I only thought about that.

Chin’s performance was breathtaking, says Dr. Janet Brenneman, Dean of the School of Music at CMU.

“She was engaging, imaginative, and inspiring,” Brenneman says. “It was clear that the audience was in awe of her performance.”

Breanna Heinrichs, a pianist in her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Music, placed second and received $500. Third place and its $300 prize went to baritone singer Matthew Baron, also in his final year of study at CMU.

Yunah Chin, the winner of  the11th Annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.
Yunah Chin, the winner of the11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.

Alyssa Hildebrand (soprano), Anneli Loepp Thiessen (piano), Elowen Braunstein-Black (soprano), and Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck (baritone) also made it to the finals, advancing from a group of 14 competitors.

Judy Kehler Siebert, a Manitoba native with an international reputation as a pianist, chamber musician, and teacher, and Monica Huisman, an acclaimed lyric soprano from Winnipeg, served as adjudicators for the finals.

Brenneman says she was impressed with the quality of musicianship in the competition.

“Each student performed in ways that demonstrated the musical growth they have made during their studies at CMU,” Brenneman says, adding that the preliminary round of the competition, which included 14 students, was also very strong. “The decision to advance students to the final round was not an easy task for CMU music faculty.”

Finalists of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.
Finalists of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.

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.

“This is now a much-anticipated event, and a tradition that we are proud to have established at CMU,” Brenneman says. “We continue to be grateful to Dr. Janzen for his generous donation and support of this competition.”

For Janzen, sponsoring the event is a way to contribute toward the success of CMU. He wanted to support CMU via a music competition because he and Verna met through their interest in choral singing.

“I always dreamed of someday dedicating a memorial to my wife—a wonderful, loving, sensitive, intelligent, and happy companion,” Janzen said in 2007. “Through the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at CMU, I can keep her memory alive.”

Additional photos from the 11th annual Verna May Janzen Music Competition can be found here.

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 800 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 www.cmu.ca.

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

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Student overcomes illness to win 2015 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

‘It’s a meaningful competition,’ says Anna Bigland-Pritchard

Piano, cello, and vocal performances were all part of the final round of the 10th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University.

Held on Wednesday, January 28 in the university’s Laudamus Auditorium, the competition featured six performers who progressed from an initial field of 18 competitors.

Peter Janzen, center, with the six Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition finalists
Peter Janzen (center) with the six finalists of the 10th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

Anna Bigland-Pritchard (soprano), Deidra Borus (soprano), Yunah Chin (cello), Breanna Heinrichs (piano), Alyssa Hildebrand (soprano), and Anneli Loepp Thiessen (piano) were the six finalists.

Bigland-Pritchard, a voice major in her final year of study, was surprised to win first place and the $700 award that comes along with it: She fell ill with laryngitis last semester which put her behind in her preparations for the competition.

“I just felt happy to be a part of the competition,” Bigland-Pritchard said. “I’m very humbled, honoured, and excited to win.”

Bigland-Pritchard is no stranger to the competition. She participated in 2012 and 2014, placing third both times.

Winner of the 2015 Verna Mae Janzne Music Competition Anna Bigland-Pritchard (soprano) with Peter Janzen
Winner of the 2015 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition Anna Bigland-Pritchard with Peter Janzen

This year, Loepp Thiessen placed second and received $500. Third place and its $300 prize went to Chin.

Bigland-Pritchard said that there is a great sense of camaraderie among the competitors.

“It’s a meaningful competition,” Bigland-Pritchard said. “We all want the best for each other, even though we’re technically competing.”

Terry Mierau, a former opera singer and alumnus of CMBC, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, as well as Dr. Darryl Friesen, Assistant Professor of Piano and General Music Studies at Providence University College, served as adjudicators for the finals.

“It was very cool to receive their affirmation,” Bigland-Pritchard said. “It’s very meaningful to have that kind of feedback.”

Janet Brenneman, Dean of the CMU School of Music, said the competition is great because it creates a buzz on campus.

“It allows for students to bring their best performances, and for the entire CMU student body and community to see that play out in this competition,” said Brenneman, noting that a capacity crowd filled the auditorium for the finals.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to perform their solo repertoire, and to see and hear what everyone else is working on,” Brenneman added. “We don’t always get that kind of opportunity.”

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 always a pleasure to see Peter,” Brenneman said. “He’s made a lovely connection with our students. It’s not often that students get to connect with a CMU donor in such a tangible way.”

For Janzen, sponsoring the event is a way to contribute toward the success of CMU. He wanted to support CMU via a music competition because he and Verna met through their interest in choral singing.

“I always dreamed of someday dedicating a memorial to my wife—a wonderful, loving, sensitive, intelligent, and happy companion,” Janzen said in 2007. “Through the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at CMU, I can keep her memory alive.”

For more photos documenting the 2015 Verna Mae Music Competition finale, please click here.

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, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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CMU announces the 10th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

CMU_2015_Verna_Mae_Janzen_Music_Competition_PosterThe 10th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University will feature six finalists: three vocalists, two pianists, and one cellist.

The competition will take place on January 28, 2015 at 7:30PM in CMU’s Laudamus Auditorium, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd.

The finalists, chosen out of 16 competitors, are: Alyssa Hildebrand (voice), Anna Bigland-Pritchard (voice), Anneli Loepp Thiessen (piano), Breanna Heinrichs (piano), Deidre Borus (voice), and Yuna Chin (cello). They will compete for $700, $500, and $300 prizes, which will be awarded by jurors Darryl Friesen and Terry Mierau.

The Verna Mae Janzen Competition, open to CMU music students, is made possible each year through the generous contributions of the event sponsor and prize donor, Peter Janzen of Deep River, Ontario. Janzen established the competition in memory of his wife, Verna Mae, who died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 53, and who shared the joy of singing with her husband. Each year, Janzen has attended the final round of the competition, which he will do again this year.

The event is open to the public and a reception will follow.

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, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

David Klassen, Instructor of Music
dkklassen@cmu.ca; 204-487-3300 ext. 615
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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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.

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Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition Features Record Number of Competitors

Winnipeg, April 3, 2013 – The eighth annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University featured 24 competitors at its preliminary round of competition—the competition’s biggest year yet.

Peter Janzen with winners (l-r) Jillian Reimer, Catherine Richard, and Kari Chastko
Peter Janzen with winners (l-r) Jillian Reimer, Catherine Richard, and Kari Chastko

“It is incredibly exciting to see students’ strong musical abilities and the results of their many hours of musical practice and dedication this competition highlights,” says Janet Brenneman, Dean of the CMU School of Music. “The Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition is an excellent performance opportunity for our students. We are grateful for the generosity of Peter Janzen in establishing this competition.”

Out of 24 initial competitors, eight students progressed to the final round of the competition. Those students were Josiah Brubacher, Kari Chastko, Stephanie Crampton, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, Catherine Richard, Jami Reimer, Jillian Reimer and Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck.

Catherine Richard, a second-year pianist, was awarded $700 and first place in the competition. Kari Chastko, a forth-year voice student, placed second and received $500.  Jillian Reimer, also a second-year pianist, came in third. She was awarded $300. All finalists are to be congratulated on their excellent performance at the final competition.

About 125 people attended the Verna Mae Janzen Music competition this year, held on March 21 at the Laudamus Auditorium.  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.

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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.”