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Award Winning Music Department

CWU Orchestra Performing Carmina Burana in Beneroya Hall, Seattle WA

When we talk about the quality of our music program here at Central Washington University and the high level of performance that our ensembles achieve, we can back up these statements with the number of awards and performance invitations that our performing ensembles receive each year. These invitations/awards represent every performing area in the music department; vocal, jazz, orchestra, wind ensemble, studio ensembles, opera, etc.

Congratulations to the following groups and their directors!

International Invitation

2015 Tolosa Choir Competition
Tolosa, Spain

  • Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Gary Weidenaar
Regional Invitations


Regional NAfME Conference
Bellevue, WA

  • Wind Ensemble, directed by Professor Lewis Norfleet
  • Jazz Band I, directed by Professor Chris Bruya

Northwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference
Pullman, WA

  • Tuba-Euphonium Studio, directed by Dr. David McLemore


Regional ACDA conference
Seattle, WA

  • Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Gary Weidenaar
  • Men's Choir, directed by Dr. Scott Peterson

State NAfME conference
Yakima, WA

  • Wind Ensemble, directed by Professor Lewis Norfleet
  • Jazz Band 1, directed by Professor Chris Bruya
  • Symphony Orchetra, directed by Dr. Nikolas Caoile


Regional NAfME conference
Spokane, WA

  • Vocal Jazz 1, directed by Professor Vijay Singh
  • Wind Ensemble, directed by Professor Larry Gookin

Dr. Gary Weidenaar conducting Chamber Choir

National Invitations


Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA

  • Jazz Band 1 WON the 2015 Next Generation Jazz Festival and performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival!

Other Performances/Awards!

  • Alder Street Quartet, coached by Professor Carrie Michel
    Music Teachers National Association, Las Vegas
  • Vocal Jazz 1, directed by Professor Vijay Singh
    ACDA Conference in Chicago
  • Vocal Jazz 1, directed by Professor Vijay Singh
    2013 JEN Conference in Atlanta GA
  • Jazz Band 1, directed by Professor Chris Bruya
    2011 JEN Conference in Louisville
  • Jazz Combo 1, coached by Professor Chris Bruya
    2013 JEN Conference in Atlanta, GA
  • Wind Ensemble, directed by Professor Larry Gookin
    CBDNA Conference in Seattle

CWU Wind Ensemble

CWU Opera production of the "The Tender Land" by Aaron Copland, directed by Dr. Gayla Blaisdell won the first place award in the National Opera Association's Opera Production Competition

Aaron Copland's The Tender Land

In addition to our ensembles, our Central Washington University music students also compete at various competitions at the regional and national level.  Here are just a few of our award winning students:

  • At the 2017 Northwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, the following students placed:
    Riley Lord - 3rd place in the Young Artist Euphonium Contest
    Calvin Stipe - 2nd place in the Young Artist Tuba Contest
    Central Transit (students ensemble) - 2nd place in the Quartet Contest
  • Boots & Cats - Int’l Championship Collegiate A Cappella

    1st place overall – moving on to LA to semi-finals
    Antonio Fernandez, "Best Vocal Percussion”

  • CWU NAfME Chapter win nation recognition

    Our CWU collegiate chapter received 1st place in the nation for a project based competition in advocacy for music education. 

  • Yamaha Young Artist Competition

    Congratulations to Braden Waddell, winner of this prestigious trumpet award.

  • CWU Shines Bright at NW Horn Symposium
    • Congratulations to Jeff Snedeker and our Horn students on their outstandingperformance at the Northwest Horn Symposium.
    • Sophie Mortensen was the winner of Mock Orchestral Audition

  • Jeremy DesChane, Brooke Scholl and Vanessa Moss won the Collegiate Division of the state chamber music competition of the Washington State Music Teachers Association competition and will go on to compete in New York City
  • Members of Central Washington University’s Horn Studio and Horn Ensemble (Jeffrey Snedeker, director), had a fine showing at the 2012 Northwest Horn Symposium, sponsored by the Northwest Horn Society and Pacific Lutheran University. The event, held this year March 30-April 1 at PLU, featured performances, masterclasses, competitions, and lectures with regional and national (French) horn artists and teachers. CWU junior John Geiger won the Low Horn Mock Orchestral Audition for the second year in a row, and six other CWU students were selected to perform in masterclasses led by Hill and Seattle Symphony Associate Principal Horn Mark Robbins.
  • Kathryn Kibbe and Vanessa Moss have recently been accepted to one of the most prestigious college music camps in the nation-Brevard Music Institute.
  • Both CWU trumpet ensembles made the semifinal round of the 2013 National Trumpet Competition, Tristan Hurd and David Hinckley are semifinalists in the solo division, and Skyler Floe is a semifinalist in the Jazz division. John Harbaugh is the Professor of Trumpet.
  • CWU opera scenes students presented a performance at the National Opera Associations conference in Portland. This was a national competition where our opera scene was selected to perform at the national conference. Gayla Blaisdell is the director of the CWU opera scenes.
  • Amanda Kunz won the Opus 7’s 2012-2013 Student Choral Composition Contest
  • John Geiger won the most prestigious award offered by the International Horn Society, the Jon Hawkins Memorial Award.
  • Voice Students who placed at the 2012 Inland Empire NATS competition:
    • Musical Theater, Emily Salisbury, 1st Place
    • Musical Theater, Sarah Hemenway, 3rd Place
    • Division IA, Bonnie Blanchard, 3rd Place
    • Division IB, Natalie Parks, 2nd Place
    • Division IC, Gemma Koreski, 2nd Place
    • Division III, Sarah Hemenway, 2nd Place
    • Division IV, Joe Sacchi, 1st Place
    • Division V, Lydia Gross, 2nd Place


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The Department of Music at Central Washington University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.


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