Lee News

School of Music to Host 13th Annual International Piano Festival and Competition

Lee University’s School of Music will present its 13th Annual International Piano Festival and Competition on June 11-17.

The event, which began in 2005 as a competition for high school students, was expanded in 2011 to include opportunities for participants to study with internationally-acclaimed artists. At the same time, it offers the public a chance to take in some brilliant performances. The competition is divided into two levels: pre-college and college.

This year’s festival will welcome 20 outstanding young pianists, ranging in age from 13-25, to the Lee campus. The participants come from five different states in the U.S. and eight from People’s Republic of China.

Highly-praised performers and teachers Mirian Conti, Dmitri Vorobiev, and Pei-Chun Liao are the guest artists for this year’s festival. Lee faculty members Cahill Smith and Phillip Thomas will serve as artistic director and executive director of the festival, respectively.

“I am pleased to work with newly-appointed Artistic Director Cahill Smith,” said Thomas, music professor and chair of Lee’s Department of Musicianship Studies. “Dr. Smith has assembled an impressive faculty who will engage a record number of talented Festival participants.”

Guest artists and participants will present recitals, which are free and open to the public. Conti will perform Monday, June 12, in Squires Recital Hall. On Tuesday, June 13, Vorobiev will present a recital in the Lee Chapel. Festival students will perform in Pangle Hall on Wednesday, and Liao will perform on Thursday evening in Squires Recital. All recitals begin at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday, June 16 at 3 p.m. in Squires Recital Hall, Michael Shinn of the Juilliard School will teach a special master class using a DCFX Disklavier PRO concert grand piano, provided by the Yamaha Corp. of America. This unique instrument, which transmits performance data over the internet, will allow Shinn to hear Festival students’ exact performances–with the piano’s keys and pedals moving up and down to capture the subtlest nuance in real time--on a DCFX at Yamaha’s facility in New York City. The session is also open to the public.

Earlier in the week, Festival participants will have the opportunity to learn from faculty and guest artists in lessons and masterclasses. New to this year’s festival are classes on piano literature, historical performance, and career skills, as well as round table discussions with artist faculty. Additionally, prizes have doubled with $10,000 total in cash awards.

The pre-college competition will begin Wednesday, June 14, at 10:30 a.m. in Squires Recital Hall, and the college division will convene Thursday, June 15, at 10 a.m. Winners will be presented on Friday evening, June 16, following the competition’s final round, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Mirian Conti

Conti, a Yamaha artist and Argentine/American pianist, is praised for her prolific recording output and international concerts. In 2005-6, she was selected as one of the 100 Outstanding Alumni to celebrate The Juilliard School's Centennial. Conti has made solo, orchestral, and chamber appearances throughout the U.S. and abroad, including her native land, Argentina. Committed to promoting the classical piano literature of Latin America, Spain, and the U.S., Conti has organized competitions, directed festivals, and promoted careers of young musicians through masterclasses and special prizes. She is on the faculty of the Evening Division at the Julliard School and the piano faculty at Brooklyn College.

Dmitri Vorobiev

A native of Moscow, Russia, Vorobiev has been a major prize winner in the Busoni, Cincinnati World, Ibla Grand Prize, A.M.A. Calabria, Iowa, and Alabama international piano competitions. He maintains a dynamic concert schedule and one of his current projects is performing complete solo piano works by Beethoven. As a frequent recording artist with the Blue Griffin label, Vorobiev’s most recent production is a double CD set with selected works by Liszt. An acclaimed soloist, he is also an active chamber music player. Vorobiev is an associate professor of piano at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the founder and artistic director of the Midwestern Piano Competition.

Pei-Chun Liao

Liao, a Taiwanese pianist, performs internationally as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. She has made appearances at prestigious venues around the world including her United Kingdom debut at Birmingham Symphony Hall, Manchester Peel Hall, Salle Cortot, and Rachmaninoff Hall, among others. Liao is a prize winner of numerous competitions, including the Taipei Chopin International Competition, the Taiwan Young Artist Competition, the Kellaway Piano Recital Competition, and more. In 2009, she was selected as Young Star of National Concert Hall, and more recently, she gave a recital tour “I wish” in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany. Liao is currently an assistant professor at University of Taipei, Taiwan.

Cahill Smith, Faculty Recital
Dr. Cahill Smith

Smith, who started playing piano at age 10, earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music. He has performed in recitals at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and been featured as soloist with the National Ukranian Symphony Orchestra in Kiev. Smith’s programming of works by Russian composer Nikolai Medtner has attracted the attention of audiences and critics. He has performed at numerous venues including the Royal Dublin Society’s concert hall and the Aspen Music Festival’s Harris Hall. Smith currently serves as an assistant professor of piano at Lee.

Phillip Thomas to Direct Festival
Dr. Phillip Thomas

Thomas has served as chair for the Festival since it began. He has studied piano, music history, and conducting at some of the world’s finest institutions and has also served as adjudicator for a variety of competitions on the local, regional, and international levels. He has also appeared as harpsichord soloist with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.

For more information on the Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition, contact the Department of Musicianship Studies at 423-614-8264, music@leeuniversity.edu or visit Festival.
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