Southeastern Piano Festival brings a world of piano music to Columbia

A world of piano music comes to Columbia, S.C., for the 11th annual Southeastern Piano Festival June 9 – 15. The week-long event welcomes Armenian, South African, Japanese-American and Chinese-American pianists.

“We strive to bring the most talented and distinctive pianists in the world to the Festival,” said Artistic Director Marina Lomazov. “The Festival has become more international each year, inviting the most celebrated concert artists.”

Along with its stellar concert series, the Festival also trains 20 young pianists from throughout the United States and abroad who participate in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. Most concerts and the competition are held at the University of South Carolina School of Music.

For the first time, the festival will also present one of its major concerts at the Columbia Museum of Art with a performance by virtuoso Sergei Babayan on June 13. Partnering with the museum will allow the Festival to accommodate more listeners and reach out to new audiences.

“We are thrilled to partner with a leading cultural institution in the region for this important concert,” Dr. Lomazov said. “The Columbia Museum of Art has for 50 years been the center of art activity in Columbia both in the visual arts and performing arts, and we are pleased to be part of that rich history.”

A native of Armenia, Sergei Babayan studied at the Moscow Conservatory and early in his career won first-place awards in several international piano competitions. He has been soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Detroit Symphony. Since 2006 he has performed regularly with conductor Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. At Gergiev’s invitation he has performed at White Nights, with the London Symphony Orchestra, at Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés in Paris.

Other guest artists:

  • Petronel Malan, a native of South Africa, won five gold medals at international piano competitions throughout the United States in 2000. Her 2004 recording “Bach Transformed” was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best Instrumental Solo Album. Malan debuted at age 10 with the Johannesburg Symphony and subsequently won all major national competitions in South Africa.
  • Claire Huangci, 23, made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and has performed at the St. Petersburg Hermitage Theater with the St. Petersburg Symphony, the Ravinia Festival, the Caramoor Festival, Bonn Beethovenhaus, Salzburg Mozarteum and the Shanghai EXPO with Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. She was one of five finalists for the 2013 American Pianists Association Award in April and will be one of 30 competitors taking part in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in taking place immediately before the Piano Festival.
  • Yoshikazu Nagai has performed as soloist and chamber musician at the Shanghai Concert Hall, National Recital Hall in Taiwan, Carnegie Hall, The National Gallery and the Aspen Music Festival. He is a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and faculty member at the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy at the Central Conservatory in Beijing. He will give the Marian Stanley Tucker Lecture during the Festival.

The Piano Fireworks Concert launches the Festival June 9 with performances by Marina Lomazov, Festival Program Director Joseph Rackers, Festival faculty members Charles Fugo, Phillip Bush and others. Micah McLaurin and Naomi Causby, co-winners of the 2010 Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, will give a concert June 10.

Along with performing, the guest artists work closely with the students who are admitted to the Festival through a rigorous selection process. Master classes are open to the public as is the day-long Fraser Competition (June 14.) Winners of the competition will give the closing concert for the Festival on June 15. Along with a cash award, the winners have the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic.

Many students selected have already made significant strides in their careers and have been admitted to top-ranked schools including the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory and Oberlin Conservatory.

Visit the Southeastern Piano Festival website for more information about the artists, the complete schedule and to purchase tickets.

Via: Southeastern Piano Festival