News & Events

Two BHSU students win first place at the SDMTA competitions

Author: BHSU Communications/Friday, November 30, 2018/Categories: Students, Awards, College of Liberal Arts, 2018

Black Hills State University music students Sarah Rathert of Rapid City and Zachary Kerr of Spearfish won first-place awards at the South Dakota Music Teachers Association competition in Brookings recently.

Senior music education major Rathert performed three classic compositions on her flute. Competing against 11 others, Rathert received first place in the collegiate woodwind category. Kerr, a junior in music received his first place award in the collegiate composition category for his piece “Trilogy of Terror.”

Students were encouraged by their professors and mentors to participate in the competition.

Rathert performed “Bach in E Minor,” “Mozart Concerto in D Major,” and “Syrinx by Debussy” in the competition while Dr. Symeon Waseen, associate professor of music, accompanied her on the piano.

Performing music since the fifth grade, Rathert plays the flute, saxophone, piano, and recorder.

Rathert has always had an appreciation of music and education. She says music helps her to express her emotions and she has always wanted to keep that in her life, but she also wanted to follow in her mom’s footsteps of becoming an educator.

“BHSU has helped me to grow as a musician and all this hard work has really paid off,” Rathert said.

The process during the competition for Kerr was a little different. Kerr had been working on his composition trilogy in a class last spring. After finishing his composition, Kerr recorded a live version and sent the recording and his score to judges via email.

Kerr accidentally discovered his passion for performing and composing in high school. Trying to channel his creativity into his classes, Kerr and his guidance counselor decided on a keyboarding class. This would be the first of many music courses to come.

Officially a music major, Kerr said he also enjoys his English and writing classes at BHSU. At BHSU he’s able to use and develop different aspects of his creativity, and channeled them both into a first-place win in the composition category at the recent competition.

About BHSU Music Department:
The Music Department strives to develop both student and community musicians and is constantly improving the musical culture of the area. With a state-of-the-art music facility, the BHSU Music Department blends individual study, for refinement and creative expression, with group performance, for a comprehensive and cooperative educational environment. The BHSU Music program is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. A degree in music from BHSU benefits those planning on working in music related fields, becoming professional musicians, or pursuing a teaching career or graduate program to further their talent.
To learn about the music program visit or contact Dr. Jonathan Nero, professor of music at or 605-642-6628.

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