If you hear someone playing the piano in Columbia this week, you may want to stop and listen.
The 2016 Southeastern Piano Festival – the region’s only piano-focused arts event – begins Sunday and lasts all week. The festival kicks off at the University of South Carolina with the Piano Extravaganza Gala Concert, a performance that showcases eight pianists, four Steinway grand pianos and multimedia, including the cutting-edge Steinway Spirio piano, known as the world’s highest resolution player piano.
Marina Lomazov, Joseph Rackers, Philip Bush, Charles Fugo and guest pianists will play on four Steinway Grand pianos at 4 p.m. today at the Johnson Performance Hall in the Darla Moore School of Business. Cost is $20 general admission, $5 for students, and kids 18 and under free.
World-renowned artists follow throughout the week.
“It’s rare to have such a bright constellation of pianists in one city,” artistic director Lomazov said in a news release.
Throughout the week, downtown Columbia will host piano concerts.
“From the Columbia Museum of Art and Trinity Cathedral to the Big Apple historical building, there are concerts throughout downtown and something for everyone,” Lomazov said.
Performers include Sergei Babayan, winner of the Queen Elizabeth and Hamamatsu International Competitions and soloist with orchestras worldwide; Ann Schein, a protégé of Arthur Rubinstein, whose remarkable career includes performing as soloist with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras; the duo of Ran Dank and Soyeon Kate Lee, first and second prize winners in the Naumburg Competition; and rising star artist Eric Lu, prizewinner in the Warsaw Chopin Competition and a Southeastern Piano Festival alumnus.
In addition to the concerts, 20 pre-college pianists from across the country participate in a rigorous program of lessons and master classes, as well as compete in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition.
The festival offers an insider’s view of the making of the next generation of pianists, says program director Joseph Rackers.
“The level of young pianists keeps rising,” Rackers said. “And any one of them has the potential to go on to a career as a professional pianist.”
Most concerts cost $20. Master classes, discussions and competition performances are free. The Southeastern Piano Festival “Konzert Kidz” program allows all children under the age of 18 to attend any of the concerts for free.
A complete list of festival events and tickets are available at www.southeasternpianofestival.com.
Lezlie Patterson, Special to The State