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W. Darr Wise Piano Competition

W. Darr Wise Piano Competition

The next competition will be held virtually. Online competition videos are due by February 13, 2021. Competitors must be residents of South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia.

About the Competition

The W. Darr Wise Piano Competition is named in honor of Newberry College Professor Emeritus W. Darr Wise. Wise was a member of the Newberry College Music faculty for 42 years, serving as both a piano professor and the College organist until his retirement in 1998. His skill as a musician and an educator inspired his students to continue studying and teaching at major music conservatories and to achieve successful careers as performers, church musicians, retailers and leaders in the music industry, teachers and administrators in all levels of education. 


Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third in both the junior and senior divisions. First prize winners in each division each receive a cash award. All prize winners will perform one music selection in the winners' recital. 


Junior Division, First Prize  --  $150

Senior Division, First Prize  --  $250   PLUS   $5,000 Newberry College Scholarship


Honorable Mention may be awarded at the discretion of the judges. 

Competition Repertoire

JUNIOR DIVISION (Grades 6 - 8)

  • Two contrasting solo pieces

  • Competitors must upload a pdf scan of their music with their registration

Video auditions should be no more than 15 minutes in length. There is no minimum time limit. All repertoire must be performed from memory in order to be eligible for prizes.



  • One movement of a Classical sonata

  • One contrasting piece selected by the contestant

  • Competitors must upload a pdf scan of their music with their registration

Video auditions should be no more than 20 minutes in length. There is no minimum time limit. All repertoire must be performed from memory in order to be eligible for prizes.

Online Competition Video

Competitors must submit video recordings of both pieces. These can be performed in a single video or two separate videos. In the video, please ensure that the competitor’s hands are visible on the piano, and that it is clear that the music was performed from memory.


Videos should be submitted as links to unlisted YouTube videos.

Tips for uploading videos.


Since the competition is virtual this year, all components of the registration are due on February 13, 2021. This includes your registration information, $25 non-refundable entry fee, links to your video audition, and pdf scans of all music.   Submit your registration online here.

Winners Recital

All competition winners will be notified by email by Monday, March 1, 2021. Judges’ comments will be emailed as pdfs to all competitors by that date. Winners will then need to submit a color photo and short bio for press release.


A winners recital will be on held at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Newberry on Sunday, March 14 at 3 p.m. Social distancing and masks will be required, and seating will be limited.

About the Event Organizer

Dr. Sarah Masterson, piano, is currently Associate Professor of Piano and Music Theory at Newberry College. Dr. Masterson also serves as the Coordinator of Music Theory, Director of the Department of Music Social Media, Freshman Faculty Mentor, and the founding Artistic Director of the W. Darr Wise Piano Competition. As an SCMTA board member, Dr. Masterson serves as Coordinator of Junior Competitions. She is also an active member of the College Music Society and American Guild of Organists. Prior to joining the Newberry College faculty, she was on faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University and Fitchburg State University.


Dr. Masterson's recent research focuses on the work of 20th-century American women composers, and she presented related lecture-recitals at the 2015 Women Composers Festival of Hartford and the 2016 College Music Society Mid-Atlantic Conference. In 2016, she also published a book review in the American Music Teacher magazine. As a performer, Dr. Masterson has performed as a soloist with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the DePauw Orchestra, and the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. She currently maintains an active performance schedule throughout New England, the Midwest, and the Southeast. In 2018, she premiered a collaborative piece at the North American Saxophone Alliance Conference and presented at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford and the CMS Mid-Atlantic Conference.


In 2011, Dr. Masterson completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Connecticut, with a major concentration of piano performance and a minor area of emphasis in music theory. Past instructors include Dr. Neal Larrabee, Prof. Claude Cymerman, and Phyllis Niednagel.


Dr. Sarah Masterson



Newberry College
Department of Music
2100 College Street
Newberry, SC 29108

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