Waller Piano Trio to compete at the national MTNA conference in March

by University Communications,

Willamette University’s Waller Piano Trio is Oregon’s first chamber music group to compete at the Music Teachers National Association’s national conference.

The trio — consisting of violinist Chloe Prendergast ’14, cellist Jason Pegis ’16 and pianist Sherry Liang ’16 — is leaving in March for Chicago, where six other district champions will vie for the national title in Chamber Music String.

The Waller Piano Trio won the state championship in November and the division title earlier this month. Music instructor Jason Duckles coaches the students.

“Each member brings their strengths to the ensemble to create a powerful and rich sonority,” he says. “They are thrill to work with, and the music department is extremely proud of them."

Prendergast says she is excited by the victory, which came as a surprise.

“We weren’t expecting it to happen,” she says. “We’re thrilled. It was really nice to get some affirmation that what we’re doing is working.”

A judge evaluated the performers based on technique, individual musicality and group communication. Two other state champions, from Washington and Wyoming, also competed at the district level.

“It was personal for me, to show that a private, liberal arts school could compete,” Pegis says. “We have a lot of work to do now, but I’m pretty excited about it.”

Liang says the group has gone into each competition with a positive attitude and a determination to enjoy the experience.

“We all have the same level of commitment to the trio, which is very important,” she says. “We all like to take risks to make the music come alive.”

The MTNA was founded in 1876. Its purpose is to advance the value of music study and music making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of music teachers. Today the association has about 22,000 members in 50 states.