Andrew Pierce competes in the Virginia Queen Competition. (photo by Logan Gates)

Pierce wins first place in Virginia Queen Piano Competition

February 8, 2024

By Kelsie Lawhon, Staff Writer

The School of Fine Arts hosted the annual Virginia Queen Piano Competition on Friday, Feb. 1 in McBeth Recital Hall. Participants included Owen Dodd, Carly Hall, Andrew Pierce, Noah Canon, Justin McDonald, Sophie McFarland, Aaron Reed and Jenna Barnes. 

“The Virginia Queen Piano Competition was established by the late Virginia Queen, professor emerita of music at Ouachita,” division of music professor Dr. Lei Cai explained. “She served as a piano faculty member at Ouachita for 40 years.” He adds that Professor Virginia Queen established the competition during her time teaching at OBU to motivate Ouachita’s piano majors to excel in their field.

The victor of the Virginia Queen Piano Competition receives an award of $500, second place receives an award of $300 and third place receives an award of $200. Andrew Pierce took first place, Aaron Reed took second and Noah Canon took third.  Jenna Barnes was named honorable mention. This is Pierce’s third year in a row to win first prize in the competition. This year’s winning pieces were “Notturno” by Ottorino Respighi and “Polichinelle in F Sharp Minor, Op. 3 No. 4” by Sergei Rachmanioff. The competition was judged by guest artist and piano professor at Carson-Newman University, Dr. Ryan Fogg.

In order to secure first place in the Virginia Queen Piano competition, each participant prepares two pieces with contrasting styles from the standard classical piano repertory and performs from memory publicly. Participants spend weeks selecting, practicing and memorizing their pieces they will perform for the competition.

“We are happy to see our piano students improving their pianistic skill and growing musically each year.”  Cai said.

The competition is hosted every year in the spring semester. For more information about the Virginia Queen Piano Competition, contact Dr. Lei Cai at

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