This past spring, we were proud to present the 1st annual Vasya Georgieva Award for Artistic Excellence to Kristine Lowkis, a graduating senior studying piano with Academy faculty Faith Zúñiga. The new Vasya Georgieva Award was created by Academy faculty and board member, and Mason School of Music alumna, Dr. Ina Mirtcheva Blevins in honor of her late grandmother.
(Pictured above left to right: Faith Zuniga, Kristine Lowkis, Dr. Ina Mirtcheva Blevins)
Dr. Mirtcheva Blevins, who has been a part of the Academy faculty for over 8 years, approached the staff earlier this year with the idea and desire to not only honor her grandmother, whom she credits with helping to shape her love of music, but to also inspire and encourage the next generation of high school graduates to continue on to higher education, whether seeking a professional music career path or not. Along with the special recognition and certificate, the award winner will also receive a small financial gift to be put towards college tuition, funded by Dr. Ina and her family.
Open to graduating high school students who have consistently studied music at the Academy for a certain amount of time, applicants were given a basic questionnaire and asked to write an essay that described their love of music and their future goals. From that deserving cadre of students, Kristine Lowkis was chosen by the Award panel, which of course included Dr. Ina.
Kristine has studied piano with Ms. Zúñiga for just over a year, and she has applied and already been accepted to Mason! She will be studying Music Composition starting this Fall 2018, with piano as her primary instrument. Ms. Zúñiga writes, “I am impressed with how quickly she has improved her piano technique and performance skills since I began teaching her. Kristine has what it takes to reach her goal of becoming a film scorer, as she is not only a very focused and talented composer, but also has the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to achieve success as a musician.”
In fact, Kristine let us know that she has already worked locally as a composer! She recently worked with Centreville High School’s production of The Laramie Project. “I enjoyed collaborating with the director and actors to help convey the heavy message using music. It was exciting to hear my music played in a large auditorium for a professional production,” Kristine said.
When asked when she first fell in love with piano, Kristine told us, “My first interaction with piano was when my church choir director allowed me to sit with him at the organ. As an organist assistant, I pulled levers, turned pages for the organist, and helped with other little tasks during the church service. Every Sunday, I watched him effortlessly sight-read piece after piece and unite a group of people through music. I aspired to be just like him and sounded out pieces on the piano like Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ and Beethoven’s Für Elise.”
“This award has so much personal meaning to me and my family,” said Dr. Ina. “I’m so happy to be awarding such a deserving young musician!”
We are so grateful to have been part of Kristine’s musical journey up to this point and wish her all the best as she begins the next stage of her life as a Music major at Mason. Congratulations, Kristine!