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Top pianists take the stage during Southeastern Piano Festival at UofSC

Some of the world’s top pianists will take the stage during the Southeastern Piano Festival.
Some of the world’s top pianists will take the stage during the Southeastern Piano Festival. Submitted

Some of the world’s top pianists will take the stage at the concert halls of the University of South Carolina and Columbia on June 16-23 for the Southeastern Piano Festival.

In its 17th year, the festival offers South Carolinians the rare opportunity to hear renowned artists perform. It also provides 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.

The Southeastern Piano Festival, under the direction of Marina Lomazov and Joseph Rackers, has become 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 said. “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’s concerts blend traditional classical works with fresh and creative multi-media presentations for classical piano in a contemporary world. As new generations discover the festival, interest and ticket sales have surged.

A new unique initiative at the 2019 festival is Piano X. This initiative aims to explore and showcase new voices, new formats and the new direction the piano can take as a solo and collaborative instrument in today’s live music scene.

The “X” in Piano X stands for “unknown factor,” the elusive “it” in the art of performance. It also stands for exploration, experimentation, and excitement. Piano X is headlined by Conrad Tao, a rising star of the New York City music scene who has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer. The initiative also will include presentations, workshops and open panel discussions

The festival opened June 16 with a piano extravaganza that featured ensemble pieces for multiple pianos as well as duo and solo works.

In addition to Tao’s performance, evening concerts feature guest artists Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung, Jon Nakamatsu and Marc-André Hamelin.

The Southeastern Piano Festival will culminate with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition on June 21. At the all-day event, young pianists age 13-18 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 take place at 7:30 p.m. June 22, followed by a closing ceremony and reception. Both Friday and Saturday’s events are free and open to the public.

“This group of students are among the most talented young artists in the country and internationally,” Rackers said. “The Southeastern Piano Festival plays an important role in their musical development as they grow into careers as concert artists.”

Special to GoColumbia

If you go

Southeastern Piano Festival

June 20

4 p.m.: Piano X Inaugural Presentation. School of Music Recital Hall. Free.

7:30 p.m.: Artist Showcase featuring Marc-André Hamelin. Johnson Performance Hall, Darla Moore School of Business. $20; $5 for students; free for children under 18.

June 21

10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. School of Music Recital Hall. Free.

June 22

7:30 p.m.: Winners Recital. School of Music Recital Hall. $10; $5; free for children under 18.