West Virginia University music student Sean Beachy recently won first place in the Annual Anthem Competition sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Worcester, Mass.

Beachy is currently studying for a doctorate in music composition in the Division of Music in the College of Creative Arts.

His composition,Then I Saw a New Heaven,was named as the winning entry in February. The award comes with a cash prize of $1,200.

Beachy was born and raised in western Maryland. He began studying piano at the age of eight and continued to be involved with music throughout high school. Following graduation, he began his higher education studies at Alderson-Broaddus College, majoring in applied piano.

He later studied composition with Joseph Baber at the University of Kentucky and William Averitt at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., where he earned a master of music degree in composition.

He is currently completing his first year of study for a doctoral degree in music composition from WVU , where he is studying with composer-in-residence John Beall.

Knowing Seans excellence as a composer in various media and his interest and commitment to church music, I was not surprised at all to see him win the anthem composition prize,Beall said.He won first place over hundreds of other entrants in the competition. The award is a credit to Sean and to the composition studio at WVU .

Beachy said this is the first competition he has ever entered. Prior to his entry, he had never before composed music for the pipe organ.

I heard about the competition when Dr. Beall received a notice and posted it on his bulletin board,said Beachy, who completed the composition in November 2006.I dont usually compose specifically for any particular type of music, and I had only composed one other piece for a choral group.

Although the text around which the composition entries were to be composed (Revelation 21: 1-6) was selected by the First Baptist Church, Beachy selected the title himself.

He said he first became interested in music composition while studying at Alderson-Broaddus College, where he and his wife Debi were both piano majors.

At that time, Debi and I, along with another person majoring in music at Alderson-Broaddus, took an independent study in composition with professor Judson Bracey and this sparked my interest in composing music,he said.I later took post baccalaureate work at the University of Kentucky, which included private composition work with Joseph Barber, who was very inspiring to me.

I also later worked with William Averitt at Shenandoah University, who was also a wonderful mentor and teacher.

Beachy currently serves as co-music director and organist for Frostburg United Methodist Church in Frostburg, Md. He and Debi, a teacher in the Garrett county schools, live in Grantsville, Md. with their three-year-old son, Evan.

The First Baptist Church Annual Anthem Competition is open to any composer under the age of 40.

Judges for the most recent competition included Robin Dinda of Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Mass., Margarita Merriman, professor emerita of Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Mass. and Robert M. Speed, professor emeritus of Grandview College in Des Moines, Iowa. All three judges are published composers whose compositions have been widely recognized.

First Baptist Church of Worcester, Mass., was established in 1812 and is the largest American Baptist congregation in New England. In addition to the music at regular services, the church presents a variety of events, including organ recitals, choral performances of major works, art exhibitions and drama.