Baylor Piano Student Makes History at Prestigious National Competition

March 24, 2022

Cezary Karwowski becomes the first Baylor School of Music student to win the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Performance Award

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (March 24, 2022) – Cezary Karwowski, a master’s candidate in piano performance in Baylor University’s School of Music, made history as the winner of the prestigious 2021-2022 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Performance Award for his captivating solo piano performance repertoire.

As a student of senior lecturer in piano Bradley Bolen, DMA, Karwowski is the first Baylor student to advance to the national MTNA Young Artist Performance Competition in piano, sponsored by Steinway & Sons and considered one of the most rigorous piano competitions in the United States.

To get to the finals, Karwowski had to best talented pianists in the Texas MTNA first round and then even more demanding competition in the South Central Division second round. After winning those competitions, Karwowski submitted an unedited performance recording for the MTNA national finals, with his winning performance prominently featured March 29 during the MTNA 2022 Virtual Conference.

“Cezary’s level of artistry now has national and international standing,” Bolen said. “He is not only an extremely talented pianist, but perhaps more importantly, a first-class human being. I expect great things are ahead for this young man.” 

An international student from Poland, Karwowski won this year's Baylor Concerto Competition with his performance of Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor by Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. He also was one of the winners of the School of Music's Semper Pro Musica Solo Competition, earning him the honor of performing in Weill Recital Hall at New York City’s celebrated Carnegie Hall on May 26.

“Certainly, Baylor has become one of the places that is very close to my heart. I have met so many wonderful people and studying here has been a great adventure. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that I have been given, and I’m very pleased with the recent achievements,” Karwowski said. “Special thanks to my great teacher, Dr. Bolen, and all the people who make my life so easy.”

Journey to Baylor

Karwowski’s road to Baylor started in 2019 at The International Music Association Gloria Artis in Vienna, Austria, where Bolen and Brian Marks, DMA, associate professor of piano and director of the keyboard division at Baylor, had been invited to teach a masterclass and judge its first piano competition.

One of the winners of the contest was a talented pianist named Cezary Karwowski. A few months later, Bolen was invited to teach masterclasses at the Academy of Music in Łódź, Poland. One of the students he taught was none other than Karwowski.

Following the classes, Bolen, along with a fellow colleague, had dinner with Karwowski and mentioned their concern about navigating the train station. Karwowski happily volunteered to escort Bolen to the correct train the next day.

“Right before I boarded the train, Cezary asked me if he could ask me a question,” Bolen said. “He asked, ‘Dr. Bolen, would it be possible for me to come to Texas to study with you?’ Of course, the easy answer was yes.”

Karwowski auditioned and was accepted to the Baylor master’s program in piano performance with an assistantship for fall 2020. Since then, Bolen has entered Karwowski in a several competitions, including the prestigious Los Angeles Liszt Competition, where he earned Honorable Mention. Bolen continued to work on expanding Karwowski’s repertoire. The persistence paid off with multiple competition wins, capped off by the MTNA Young Performer Award for piano.

“Cezary is, above all else, a fine human being. This shows in his playing,” Bolen said. “It is for this reason that I am hopeful he finds every success.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Celebrating the centennial year of its founding throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, the Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit to learn more.