Occurring each February, the Giles-Harris Music Competitions honor former esteemed piano faculty members Lucille Harris and Christopher Giles and offer Wake Forest student musicians the chance to perform and compete for cash prizes. Invited guest judges from among the region’s finest musicians choose the winning performances in both voice/instrumental and piano divisions. All Wake Forest students enrolled in individual instruction on any instrument or voice type and regardless of their major are eligible to enter the Competitions with their instructor’s permission.
The Christopher Giles and Lucille S. Harris Competitions in Musical Performance began in 1977. The impetus came from 1967 alumnus Paul Sinal’s gratitude for his experience as an undergraduate at Wake Forest, where he was able to study with first-rate faculty in the Department of Music even though his major was Latin. Hoping to stimulate future Wake Forest students to take advantage of this privilege, the first “Competitions,” as they were originally called, provided for a single cash prize in each of two categories. This modest beginning quickly grew into a central event on the Music Department’s annual calendar, and as the years went by, the Sinals have been joined by many additional friends of the Wake Forest University Department of Music. Their combined generosity now supports $4500 in prizes for eight Wake Forest student musicians each year.