Art of the Piano boasts sought-after lineup

Awadagin Pratt

Awadagin Pratt

Tuesday, May 30-Saturday, June 17, Werner Recital Hall, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Art of the Piano is an annual festival organized by pianist Awadagin Pratt, artist-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Pratt is taking the festival to an entirely new level in its seventh year, welcoming six much-sought-after concert artists to perform and give master classes: Sergei Babayan, Stewart Goodyear, Olga Kern, Barry Douglas, Kevin Kenner and Vladimir Feltsman.

As many as 25 students, selected from a pool of applicants, will get the opportunity to perfect their competition and recital repertoire by working with these top musicians. All expenses will be covered by the Art of the Piano Foundation.

In addition to performances, the festival offers attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics and art of becoming an artist-pianist while enjoying performances by superstars and rising stars. The master classes are open to the general public, as are recitals from many of the artist-faculty members.

Another element sets Art of the Piano apart from similar festivals: The lessons students attend are completely open – a tradition inspired by the master classes of Franz Liszt. That means the students aren’t limited to learning only from one or two teachers, but all of them.

“What’s amazing for the students is that they’ll have worked with all these different faculty, each with their own point of view,” said Pratt. “Some overlap. Some contradict. Among the results, in addition to concrete improvements, is the gaining of a particular freedom that’s borne of this vast knowledge. They’ve got all sorts of important, and in some cases life-changing, feedback from our faculty.”

Mark Rabideau, of DePauw University’s 21st Century Musician Initiative, and violinist Tom Stone, formerly of the Cypress Quartet, will talk about how to make a living doing what you love, incorporating the business and marketing of music, recording technologies, etc.

Regular roundtable lunches, where students can present questions to artist faculty, are a staple of the festival and point to the heart of Pratt’s commitment to lifting up young artists.

Although it is billed as a classical piano festival, Art of the Piano also will celebrate the nexus of classical and jazz music. During the middle weekend, Dennis Thurmond – improvisor extraordinaire and author of “Tai Chi of Improvisation” – will return to collaborate in concert with Pratt. Jazz pianist Dan Tepfer, who appeared at Cincinnati’s Constella Festival in March, returns to share his unique artistry. Tepfer’s early classical training was at the Paris Conservatory, but his talent for improvisation and composition has taken his creativity well beyond the standard repertoire.


Art of the Piano faculty-artists:

  • Sergei Babayan is an internationally renowned performer and recording artist. He is the founder and artist-in-residence at the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
  • Stewart Goodyear is an accomplished young concerto soloist, chamber musician, recitalist and composer.
  • Olga Kern was the first woman in 30 years to receive the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal. In September, she will join the piano faculty at Manhattan School of Music.
  • Barry Douglas, an officer of the Order of the British Empire for his service to music, is a renowned conductor, performer and recording artist.
  • Kevin Kenner, called “an artist whose intellect, imagination and pianism speak powerfully and eloquently,” is a professor at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
  • Vladimir Feltsman teaches at Mannes College, the New School for Music and the State University of New York New Paltz, where he is the founder and artistic director of the International Festival-Institute Piano Summer.

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