Music Student Honored with Featherstone and Sudler Prizes

Graduating senior Bronwen McVeiogh takes MSU's top awards for high achievement.

Barbara O‘Kelly, senior academic specialist emeritus; R. Sekhar Chivukula, associate provost of undergraduate education; Bronwen McVeigh; Mark Sullivan, associate professor of composition; Marcie Ray, assistant professor of musicology, Jacqueline Taylor

An MSU Honors College student was the first graduating senior from the College of Music to be awarded the Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize.

Bronwen McVeigh received her bachelor's in May and studied piano performance and composition. She also pursued an additional passion for musicology.

“For me, the best part about receiving this award is that it demonstrates that MSU recognizes the work and importance of artists in the world,” says McVeigh. “Dr. Featherstone developed the endowed prize as a way to reward people for creative, out-of-the-box approaches to work. Being chosen to exemplify that vision is one of the best compliments I could ever receive.”

The Featherstone prize was created in 1986 by a group of MSU College of Education alumni to celebrate Featherstone’s life and contributions to scholarship, research and leadership. The $4,000 Featherstone prize seeks to identify the most outstanding graduating senior at MSU and grants the award for “future growth and development, travel, graduate study or meditation.”

Mark Sullivan, associate professor of music composition is among three of McVeigh’s lead teachers and nominators for the award.

“In 32 years at MSU, and two universities before it, I have never come across a student with the diverse array of skill and imagination, passion and critical and creative drive that she brings to bear on everything she does,” says Sullivan.

Professor of Piano Deborah Moriarty says she nominated McVeigh for her enthusiasm and natural abilities as a pianist.

“Bronwen is truly at the center of the undergraduate piano program.” Moriarty says. “She has played in the orchestra, competed in the concerto competition, worked with singers and instrumentalists and does everything with her unique brand of musicianship, artistry and excellence.”

Assistant Professor of Musicology Marcie Ray expanded on McVeigh’s scholarship and curiosity.

“Bronwen exemplifies every quality of an exciting young scholar,” says Ray. “She’s a sophisticated writer, she develops provocative research questions, she reads voraciously, and she has a deep commitment to advancing knowledge.”

McVeigh plans to attend graduate school after attending several summer composition festivals abroad. She is also working on several public art projects in the form of sound sculptures made from recycled materials.

The Featherstone prize is McVeigh’s second recognition this year. McVeigh also recently received  the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts—awarded nationally since 1982 to top college seniors who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in an area of the performing and creative arts.  

McVeigh was one of two College of Music students to be awarded the 2017 Sudler prize, and shared the spotlight with graduating senior Joe LeFevre. Since 2008, seven College of Music seniors have received the prize, including Anna Goodson (2016), Schyler Sheltrown (2014), Taylor Herron (2013), Peter Nelson (2012), Brandon Lepage (2011), Sarah Lewis (2009), and John McLain Pray (2008).

Besides MSU, the Sudler prize is bestowed to deserving students at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chicago, Oberlin, Purdue, Duke, Rice, Stanford and Emory universities. Sudler, a Chicago businessman and philanthropist, was an active supporter of MSU music programs, and a founding member of the WKAR Music Projects Advisory Board. 

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