Wayland faculty member places in national competition

July 12, 2013

PLAINVIEW — Wayland Baptist University faculty member Dr. Richard Fountain received national recognition recently as he tied for third place in the American Prize in Piano Performance (Solo) 2013- Professional Division competition.

Fountain, who is associate professor of collaborative piano at the university, tied for third place with pianist Stephen Wilber of Chattanooga, Tenn. Fountain has a bachelor’s degree in music from Taylor University in Upland, Ind. and both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

According to its Website, www.theamericanprize.org, “The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States . . . .” The American Prize was founded in 2009.

Fountain explained that recorded submissions are presented by the artists and those are judged by a panel of judges who simply evaluate the performances without knowing the identities of the artists. He submitted his recently-recorded CD, “American Ivory,” which includes compositions from fellow Wayland faculty member Dr. Gary Belshaw, who is professor of music composition at the university.

“It was quite an honor to be chosen,” Fountain said, adding that in reality, at least with his placing, the monetary award is negligible.

What is of great value from the competition, he continued, is the fact that he soon will receive written feedback from the panel of judges that reviewed his submission.

“Not every competition does that. You normally just find out, ‘Well, you finished, you’re a semifinalist, but you didn’t move forward. We don’t give you the written comments that the judges make,’ so one thing that is very nice about this competition is that I’ll get to have some professional feedback from very well respected colleagues in the field,” he said.

While Fountain doesn’t yet know what those critiques will say, he is aware of some areas in which he needs to improve. One of those areas he already has begun to focus on involves his communication skills as a musician. While it is important to master the technical aspects of a piece for performance, the pianist explained that it is equally important to be able to communicate the message of the piece to the audience.

“One thing I have been working on the last couple of years is getting more of a big picture perspective on the things I’m playing . . . not getting caught up in this little arpeggio here or this scale here, kind of in the technical bits of it, but trying to get past the notes and communicate the drama and the excitement, the sadness, whatever the piece is about. I have, honestly, no idea what (the judges) will come back with but that is one area that I know I have been consciously trying to work on,” he said. He added that from a competition standpoint, he still is below the age minimum for a number of competitions so now is a good time to get professional feedback and be able to really apply it.

While placing in the national competition was good for him professionally, Fountain said it also could be good for Wayland’s music program. He pointed out that The American Prize has linked itself to marketing through social media and has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter.

While other competitions may lie in the future for Fountain, he said right now he is focusing on the coming school year, which is fast-approaching. He said scheduling will play a big role in what he is able to do competitively.

“Mostly, (now) I’m just getting some music learned for next year and getting m