WMU News

Lori Sims is first in series of named professor honorees

Feb. 6, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Internationally known pianist Lori Sims has been named the John T. Bernhard Professor of Music at Western Michigan University in an initiative announced Feb. 6 by WMU President Judith I. Bailey to honor top faculty members.

Bailey, who made the announcement as part of her State of the University address, said the Sims appointment is one of what she expects to be several similar appointments made each academic year. Each faculty member honored for outstanding performance in teaching, research or creative activity will be named to a professorship that bears the name of a significant member of the University community. Sims' professorship bears the name of WMU's fourth president and a lifelong supporter of the arts who died in January.

Those who become named professors will receive an annual stipend of $12,500 for the following three years. The stipend is derived from the earnings of an endowment from private donations put at the discretion of the president. Up to one-half of the stipend may be used to augment the faculty member's salary. The balance is to be used for expenditures on appropriate professional endeavors.

Sims, a faculty member since 1997, has been turning heads in the classical music world in recent years. Her 2000 Lincoln Center premier came two years after she won first prize in the prestigious Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sims also won the prize for the best performance of a work by Brahms at that international competition. In her second Lincoln Center performance in 2001, Sims debuted the work of fellow faculty member Curtis Curtis-Smith, earning rave reviews for both the compositions and her playing from publications such as the New York Times.

As an associate professor of music at WMU, Sims has proven a gifted teacher as well, and her students have begun following in her footsteps, placing well in international competitions for such awards as the 2002 International Grace Welsh Prize for Piano.

Sims' other accomplishments include being first prize co-winner of the 1994 Felix Bartholdy-Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin, winner of the 1993 American Pianists' Association Competition with outstanding distinction from the jury, and the silver medal in the 1987

Kosciuszcko Foundation Chopin Competition.

She has performed throughout America, Europe and China, including engagements with the NordDeutscheRadio Orchestra, Hanover, the Israel Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Spokane Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Yale Philharmonic and the Kalamazoo Symphony. She appeared as a recitalist and master class artist at the 2000 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

Sims earned her bachelor's degree from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of Leon Fleisher, her master's degree from the Yale School of Music as a student of Daniel Pollack and Claude Frank and a "Solistendiplom," or artist diploma, from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Hanover, Germany, as a student of Arie Vardi.

While a student, Sims was a recipient of the Dean's Prize for most outstanding student at the Yale School of Music, and a Deutsche Akedemische Austauschdienst two-year fellowship from the Federal Republic of Germany.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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