By Todd Cohen
Call it Mr. Winerock's Opus.
Just as Jack Winerock, professor of piano, was receiving a richly deserved gold pin for his 25 years of service to KU last month, two of his piano students gave him the best gift of all to commemorate a quarter century of teaching.
One student claimed the grand prize and the other won first place in the piano division at the prestigious Naftzger Competition on May 1 and 2 in Wichita, giving KU the top two awards. While past students had won the piano competition and one had been named a grand-prize winner a few years ago, Winerock had never achieved both in the same year.
"That was very special," Winerock said. "I'm very happy for these two young men."
Maxim Shagdaron, Moscow, Russia, freshman, won the grand prize and $5,000 while Roger McVey, Wichita doctoral student, won the $2,000 first prize in the piano division.
Naftzger, sponsored by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, is considered the premier music competition in the Midwest. It is open to vocal, instrumental and piano students living or attending college in Kansas, Missouri or Oklahoma.
In addition to the talented competition, the event is made even more difficult because it always coincides with final exams at KU, Winerock said. So other students could study for finals, Winerock took the rare step of accompanying McVey. He played the orchestra part on a second piano.
"It was during final-exam week, so I couldn't ask other students to accompany him. So I decided to do it myself," Winerock said, noting that his accompaniment was not evaluated by the judges.
However, his performance of a piece by Prokofieff was not without high pressure.
"It was a very hard piece and I had to learn it that day," he said.
The competition is composed of three categories: piano, instrument and voice. One winner is selected for each division. For the finals, the judges select several top students from each division and then name a grand-prize winner. "They liked both pianists very much," Winerock said, explaining how Shagdaron snared the grand prize despite not winning the piano division.
Shagdaron, pictured at left, attended the Gnessin School for Gifted Students in Russia and then was awarded a scholarship to attend KU and study with Winerock. For the competition, he played works by Beethoven, Prokofieff and Rachmaninoff.
McVey, a Wichita native, pictured above with Prof. Winerock, earned a master's degree in music from Indiana University, where he studied with the internationally known pianist, Menahem Pressler. He began doctoral work at KU last fall and is a teaching assistant in the Department of Music and Dance. He played works by Beethoven, Scriabin and Prokofieff in the competition.