Piano Student Wins National Competition and Inaugural Ebony Prize

Performer's Diploma piano student Lewis Warren Jr. was awarded First Prize and the first-ever Ebony Prize in the Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Competition.

Performer's Diploma student Lewis Warren Jr. plays the piano
Performer's Diploma student and Young Artist Competition winner Lewis Warren Jr. plays the piano.

Lewis Warren Jr., a Performer’s Diploma student in piano, has won First Prize in the national finals of the prestigious Young Artist Competition. The finals of the competition were held at the annual Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) conference on March 27. It was announced that Warren Jr. would advance to the finals following his win in the South Central Division of the competition earlier this year.


The versatile program that secured him the top prize of the competition represented four contrasting eras of music and catered to his strengths. Between pieces by Franz Liszt, Domenico Scarlatti, Anthony R. Green, and Sergei Rachmaninoff, Warren Jr. skillfully walked the line of technically challenging and emotionally moving in his performance.


“Of course it depends on how well you play, but it also depends on who is listening and how you create a musical connection with the listener,” he explains. “I feel as if I've found my voice again as a pianist and that's something that I'll be forever grateful for.”


In addition to winning First Prize, Warren Jr. was also awarded the first-ever Ebony Prize in the MTNA Young Artist Competition finals. The Ebony Prize was founded by pianist and educator Dr. Leah Claiborne and was awarded to the best performance of a composition by a Black composer. Warren Jr. secured the prize with his performance of Anthony R. Green’s "Etude II: Fugue for 4 voices."


Award winner Lewis Warren Jr. poses at the piano


Warren Jr. is currently under the tutelage of Professor and Chair of Piano Dr. Carol Leone, who he also studied with from ages 10-16 prior to studying at SMU. During that time, he performed at Steinway Hall in New York City and the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, and even performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jaap van Zweden. Their years of work together have developed a great rapport between the two, with Dr. Leone able to aptly identify his strengths and challenge his weaknesses.


"Lewis is a highly sensitive musician who has an extraordinary ability to capture the emotional essence and character of any style and period of music and also to improvise and play by ear in the most captivating and creative way,” says Leone. “He is developing into a superb composer." 


Warren Jr. credits the entire Meadows piano faculty with his immense growth in the discipline over the last two years. It is their instruction, encouragement and support that he believes has made him into a better pianist and ultimately led to his success in this competition.


“Every career is an iceberg where most usually only see the tip of success, not the tireless effort it takes to push to the top,” says Warren Jr. “And I'm still pushing; I'm still climbing.”


Lewis Warren Jr. will be performing his latest composition in his graduate recital in Caruth Auditorium on April 30 at 6:00 p.m. The concert is free and the public is invited to attend.