Three Korff School students win MTNA state competitions

Left to right: Shannon Lotti, Rebekah Stiles and Tim Aulner.
Left to right: Shannon Lotti, Rebekah Stiles and Tim Aulner.

Three graduate students in the Glenn Korff School of Music won the state MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) competitions in piano, brass and woodwinds in October.

Rebekah Stiles, a second-year master’s student in piano performance, studying with Marguerite Scribante Professor of Piano Paul Barnes, won the MTNA Steinway & Songs Young Artist Piano Competition in Nebraska.

“Winning the state competition came as such a pleasant surprise,” Stiles said. “It has been a much-needed encouragement after missing out on performances for a year. I’m truly grateful for the support of my studio and my school, and I’m thrilled to represent them in the next round.”

Tim Aulner, a first-year master’s student in horn performance, studying with Professor of Horn Alan Mattingly, won the state round of the Brass Division of the MTNA competition.

“Honestly, I’m very surprised by the results,” Aulner said. “This is my first time competing in person among non-horn players so I had no idea what to expect. This success will definitely give me more confidence going into future competitions and performances. More than anything, though, I am thankful for this opportunity to play for distinguished musicians from outside of our area as I continue on to the regional round of the competition.”

Shannon Lotti, a second-year master’s student in flute performance, studying with Larson Professor of Flute John Bailey, won the MTNA Nebraska Young Artist Woodwinds competition.

"As musicians we all put so much work constantly into our music and musicianship, so being named the winner for the woodwind competition felt like the time and energy I spend daily in the practice room was really paying off," Lotti said. "I’m so excited to move onto the next round and see what happens."

The three-tiered MTNA competitions begin at the state level. Winners of each state competition advance to the West Central division competition, which is online. Division winners then proceed to the national competition finals, which will take place during the MTNA National Conference in Minneapolis in March.

Stiles holds a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and a Bachelor of Science in Bible from Cairn University. As a performer, she has played at Carnegie Hall as a winner of the Crescendo International Music Competition, as well as with the Cairn Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist and in masterclasses with Susan Starr, Behzod Abduraimov and Arnaldo Cohen. She has also presented an array of solo and chamber recitals in the Philadelphia area, specializing in piano duet repertoire.

Her repertoire for the competition included Scriabin’s “Sonata No. 2 in G-Sharp Minor, Op. 19, Mvmt. II: Presto,” Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau” and Liszt’s “Sonata in B Minor, S. 178.”

“Rebekah and I have much in common,” Barnes said. “We are both tremendously energized by the intimate relationship of music and theology. Preparing her M.M. recital featuring the Liszt B Minor Sonata has been a complete joy. She plays with great technical facility that allowsher to be deeply expressive. And most importantly, she has an inquiring mind that absorbs musical truth.”

Aulner graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a Bachelor of Music in horn performance in 2021. He has a wide array of playing experience, having played principal horn in the UNL Symphony Orchestra, the UNL Wind Ensemble and the UNL Symphonic Band, as well as second, third and fourth horn in the UNL Symphony Orchestra. He is also involved with chamber groups, including a horn quartet, a brass quintet and a wind quintet. He has made solo appearances competing at the International Horn Competition of America and the Mid-South Horn Workshop.

His repertoire for the competition included James Naigus’ “Penumbra,” Hermann Neuling’s “Bagatelle,” the first movement of W.A. Mozart’s “Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, K. 447,” the second movement of Reinhold Gilière’s “Concerto for Horn in B-flat major, Op. 91” and Bernhard Krol’s “Laudatio” for unaccompanied horn.

“Tim’s level of performance has grown exponentially over the past two years, and I can’t wait to see where his focus, drive and determination take him in the future,” Mattingly said. “He is an amazing talent, a terrific pedagogue and a true leader in the Husker Horn Studio.”

Lotti received her B.M. in flute performance from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is currently an active flute teacher with a virtual studio of students in multiple states, as well as a solo and orchestral performer. Lotti has previously been a prize winner in the MTNA Nebraska Young Artist Competition, Maverick Flute Soloist Competition, the South Carolina Flute Society Collegiate Competition, Great Composers Competition, Texas Flute Society Undergraduate Solo Competition, and a finalist for both the UNL and UTA Concerto Competitions.

“Shannon is an exceptional masters student, with a formidable technique, a lovely sound and beautiful sense of drama and timing,” Bailey said. “I am so proud of her achivements at UNL and know she will do well at the MTNA regional competition.”

In addition, two undergraduate Glenn Korff School of Music piano students placed as alternates in the state competition. Sean Lebita, a senior piano performance major, is an alternate in the MTNA Steinway & Sons Young Artist Piano Competition (Nebraska). Nathaniel Brown is the alternate in the MTNA Yamaha Corporation of America Senior Piano Competition. A graduate of Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas, Brown is a freshman piano performance major. Lebita and Brown both study with Barnes.

MTNA is a nonprofit organization comprised of 20,000 independent and collegiate music teachers committed to advancing the value of music study and music making to society and to supporting the professionalism of music teachers. Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music association in the U.S.