Some of the world’s top pianists will spend a week in Columbia, and there will be several opportunities to hear them play.
The 16th annual Southeastern Piano Festival takes place at the University of South Carolina and at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral from Sunday, June 17, through Saturday, June 23.
The festival, under the direction of Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers, is one of the premier piano experiences for performance and young talent in the world.
“It’s an extraordinary experience and a privilege for our School of Music to offer the highest caliber learning and performance opportunities available to young pianists,” Lomazov says. “Equally exciting is what this festival brings to Columbia. People would have to travel to concert halls in New York, Paris, Milan and Shanghai to see these pianists perform. For one week each year, Columbia becomes the world’s greatest concert stage.”
The festival opens Sunday with a piano extravaganza that features riveting ensemble pieces for multiple pianos as well as duo and solo works. Lomazov and Rackers will perform alongside fellow university piano professors Charles Fugo and Phillip Bush, Southeastern Piano Festival alumni Hugo Kitano and Aleksandra Kasman, and guest pianists.
The week culminates with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition on Friday, June 22. At the all-day event, young pianists, ages 13 through 18, will perform and compete for more than $9,000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra.
The winners’ finale concert will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a closing ceremony and reception.
Both Friday and Saturday’s events are free and open to the public. And there are concerts every day between.
“Each year the pool of students exceeds our expectations in both scope and depth of talent,” Rackers says. “The Southeastern Piano Festival is the pinnacle for the most talented young pianists in the United States to further their musical development in learning and performance.”
There are many reasons why you don’t want to miss the Southeastern Piano Festival. Here are five:
1. Hear world-class musicians perform.
The festival offers a rare opportunity to hear renowned artists, and gives 20 of the nation’s top pre-college pianists the opportunity to take master classes with top pianists and university piano faculty, as well as perform and compete for prizes.
“You hear world-class guest artists without flying to New York, Chicago or elsewhere,” Lomazov says.
2. It's a big deal in classical music.
For people whose idea of the classics is Waylon Jennings or Aerosmith, this can be a new experience that will introduce you to a new style of music. You may discover you really like it.
For those who are already fans, it’s an opportunity to bask in your style music for an entire week.
“The piano festival offers electrifying and moving performances from artists at the height of their craft,” Rackers says. “Listeners will be inspired with exciting, touching, inspirational music-making.”
3. But you can see fresh, modern takes on the classics.
You can listen to concerts that blend traditional classical works with fresh and creative multimedia presentations for classical piano in a contemporary world.
“You get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of a pianist through master classes with some of the most preeminent master teachers,” Lomazov says.
4. One performer is Yo-Yo Ma's successor.
Evening concerts feature guest artists Charlie Albright, Lera Auerbach, Simone Dinnerstein and Antonio Pompa-Baldi.
Albright is the artist-in-residence for Harvard University’s Leverett House, a position last filled by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He will perform works by Chopin as well as his own compositions and improvisations.
Auerbach, a Russian-American composer, pianist, poet and visual artist, will combine her visual and music arts in the premier of a solo work inspired by a photo exhibition.
Dinnerstein will present Bach’s towering masterpiece, the Goldberg Variations, a work that landed her No. 1 on the classical Billboard charts.
Pompa-Baldi, who appears regularly at major concert venues globally, will showcase an array of rarely-performed classical gems as well as new works inspired by 20th-century French composer and cabaret performer Edith Piaf.
5. Many of the festival’s concerts are free.
The guest artist concerts require a ticket purchase, but you can hear a lot of music for free.
“There is something for everyone at the festival, from the family-friendly five-piano extravaganza opening concert to Italian virtuoso Antonio Pompa-Baldi and rising star Charlie Albright,” Rackers says.
If you go
Southeastern Piano Festival
See www.sepf.music.sc.edu for tickets and information.
Sunday, June 17
4 p.m. Piano Extravaganza in Johnson Performance Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business, 1014 Greene St. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.
Monday, June 18
4:30 p.m. Master class and open discussion with Rebecca Penneys in the School of Music Recital Hall, 813 Assembly St. Admission is free.
7:30 p.m. Artist showcase featuring Lera Auerbach at the School of Music Recital Hall. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.
Tuesday, June 19
1:30 p.m. Piano concert at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 1100 Sumter St. Admission is free.
7:30 p.m. Artist showcase featuring Charlie Albright at the School of Music Recital Hall. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.
Wednesday, June 20
4:30 p.m. Alumni showcase featuring Hugo Kitano and Aleksandra Kasman at the School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is free.
7:30 p.m. Artist showcase featuring Antonio Pampa-Baldi at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.
Thursday, June 21
4:30 p.m. Marian Stanley Tucker Lecture Series featuring John Perry and Sasha Starcevich at the School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is free.
7:30 p.m. Artist showcase featuring Simone Dinnerstein in Johnson Performance Hall at the Darla Moore School of Business. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.
Friday, June 22
10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition at the School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is free.
Saturday, June 23
Master classes featuring Simone Dinnerstein (10 a.m.), Sasha Starcevich (11 a.m.), John Perry (3 p.m.) and Antonio Pampa-Baldi (4 p.m.) at the School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is free.
7:30 p.m. Winners recital at the School of Music Recital Hall. Tickets are $10 for the general public, $5 for students and free for children under 18.