The Keyone Docher Student Achievement Award is presented to an outstanding student majoring in Music at Mississippi State University. The Award is named for former MSU student and outstanding performer Keyone Docher who performed at the 2014 Templeton Festival. Docher passed away in 2014 shortly after his performance. The Festival planning committee was struck by his passion, talent and enthusiasm for music and decided to honor him with this award.
2021: Eli Denson
Eli Denson is a junior at Mississippi State University majoring in Music Education with an emphasis in Classical Guitar. Alongside his studies at MSU, Eli is also the music theory and ear training tutor for the music department. Since his freshman year, he has been a part of the Chamber Singers and Men of State choirs, the MSU Jazz Ensemble, and the MSU Guitar Ensemble.
Eli got his start in composing for visual medium when he was brought on by his sister, Emma Denson, to compose and conduct music for Frost: an Original Play with Music, a play she was directing which was produced by a local Starkville theatre company: The Basket Cases. The following spring, after Tim Matheny saw Eli’s work on Frost, Eli brought his music to the stage once again by teaming up with Theatre MSU to compose music for their production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In the spring of his sophomore year, Eli scored the last Basket Case’s production, The Troll Prince as well as the Mississippi State Shackoul’s Honor College’s production of Prometheus Bound. In December 2020, Eli was commissioned to score an original short film created by a film student at the University of Alabama, giving him the chance to give his hand at composing for a medium besides the stage. His most recent work will be premiered this spring by MSU’s Men of State choir titled “When Great Souls Die,” based on Maya Angelou’s text “When Great Trees Fall.”
He has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Mississippi State and is looking forward to the opportunities senior year will bring. He aspires to continue his education by obtaining a master’s degree in composition for visual media and aims to work in the film music industry following the completion of his master’s program.
2020: Daniel Rorabaugh
Daniel Rorabaugh is a junior Music Education major at Mississippi State University. Primarily a clarinetist, Daniel studies under Ms. Sheri Falcone and has performed regularly in both the MSU Wind Ensemble as well as the Starkville-MSU Symphony. However, his music-making also pours over into voice and piano, through singing in the MSU State Singers and taking piano lessons under Dr. Jacqueline Edwards-Henry. Post-graduation, Daniel intends to further pursue his musical studies in graduate school.
2019: Quinlan Gray
Quinlan Gray (b. 1998) is a musician, writer, and student currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Music Education at Mississippi State University.
As a musician, Quinlan has studied the trumpet for the past seven years and has engaged in many opportunities for learning and performance, especially in jazz playing. His primary trumpet instructors include Anthony Kirkland of Mississippi State University and James Bucker of Henderson State University. Quinlan currently participates in a variety chamber groups and large ensembles including the Haut Brass Quintet, Four Freshman Trumpet Ensemble, MSU Trumpet Consort, MSU Dixieland Ensemble, MSU Jazz Ensemble, and MSU Symphonic and Concert Bands. Among colleagues, peers, and instructors, he has performed solo works by Cheatham, Clarke, Delmas, and Porrino.
As a writer, Quinlan has compiled an extensive song collection of folk songs and Orff compositions geared towards K-6 music lessons. In addition to this, he has created and compiled resources designed to cover an array of concepts for early music instruction. Among these resources are elementary music lessons, an early music song collection, and a sample curriculum for K-6 music programs. Quinlan is also engaged in research on music education and is currently seeking publication on a national stage for his article on the emphasis on performance in K-12 schools.
Quinlan also enjoys an active role as a conductor for several campus and community ensembles such as the Trumpet Consort and the Starkville Academy Volunteer Band. He has also found opportunities to serve in leadership positions throughout the music department as a Student Recruiter, Section Leader, and Recital Hour Assistant Manager. When he is not in class or engaged in research, he gives private lessons to local middle and high school music students in Starkville, MS. Following graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in Wind Conducting.
2018: Catherine Patriquin
Catherine is a senior music education major and tenor saxophonist at Mississippi State University. She graduated from Ocean Springs High School in 2014 and was a four-year member of the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. Catherine attended the University of Alabama’s Moody School of Music, where she was a member of the Million Dollar Band, Jazz and Wind Ensembles, and had the opportunity to play with the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra. Catherine transferred to Mississippi State University her sophomore year and is currently a member of the Famous Maroon Band, Wind Ensemble, and Saxophone Ensemble. This past year, she was awarded honorable mention at the MTNA Woodwind Young Artist Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Catherine will student teach on the Gulf Coast this coming fall and intends to better the lives of children through music for the foreseeable future!
2017: Abby Weinstein
Abby, mezzo-soprano, is a senior vocal performance major at Mississippi State University. Abby is a student of voice under the instruction of Dr. Jeanette Fontaine. Recent past musical productions include: Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, Dido and Æneas, and Ragtime. Abby has received multiple outstanding achievement awards from both the Choral and Music Departments at MSU. Last year, she placed second in the Junior/Senior Solo Division of the MMTA competition and was a finalist in the MSU Concerto Competition. In her spare time, Abby enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her cat Baboo, and relaxing with a good book.
2016: Tyler Stallings
Born in Pontotoc, MS, Tyler is a senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. He started his musical career in sixth grade when he began playing saxophone at Pontotoc Jr. High School. At Pontotoc High School, he performed in the symphonic band for four years, attended various honor band clinics and was a member of the 2012 Mississippi Lion’s All-State Band where he played amongst 140 of Mississippi’s finest high school musicians. He also played baritone saxophone in the inaugural Mississippi All-State Jazz band in 2012 where they performed at the Natchez Blues Festival. Since coming to Mississippi State University, Tyler has been busy playing in an array of ensembles including the Famous Maroon Band, the saxophone ensemble, the symphonic band, the jazz ensemble and the wind ensemble where he sat amid the best saxophone section in the South. He has also performed as a saxophone soloist around the state of Mississippi and played a number of performances in Starkville, Mississippi in collaboration with faculty and students. During his time at Mississippi State University, Tyler has served as the baritone saxophone player for the MSU-Starkville Symphony Orchestra and MSU- Starkville Jazz Band under the leadership of Dr. Michael Brown.
2015: Sarah Wallace
Sarah is a senior at Mississippi State University majoring in Music – Piano. She is also pursuing a minor in International Studies and a certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She grew up in Brandon, Mississippi, where she frequently participated in choirs, ensembles, and theater programs. She began studying at Mississippi State in the fall of 2011 and spent part of this past summer studying abroad in South Korea. Sarah started playing piano at the age of four and picked up violin and viola in late elementary. She was a violist in the MSU Philharmonia Orchestra and is still currently a violist for the Starkville Symphony Orchestra. After her graduation in May, she is hoping to return to South Korea to pursue a master’s degree in English Linguistics or English Foreign Language Teaching.