Some festival students just keep coming back

Returning students Marina Parrini, Henry Hsieh, Evelyn Mo and  Katherine Guan having lunch during the Festival

Returning students Marina Parrini, Henry Hsieh, Evelyn Mo and Katherine Guan having lunch during the Festival

This is the third summer Vanessa Haynes has come to Columbia from Massachusetts to attend the Southeastern Piano Festival. Henry Hsieh doesn’t have to travel quite so far – he lives in North Carolina – but this is his third year at the festival as well.
The festival offers a week of classes for 20 outstanding pre-college students around the nation and a lineup of concerts by world-class pianists. In all the 2013 Festival has seven returning students.
What keeps them coming back?
“It was a great learning experience, there are so many great teachers and lots of insightful master classes,” said Evelyn Mo, 14, of Virginia. “And it’s very welcoming.”
Henry likes the concerts by world-class pianists who perform each night during the festival.
“I just find the performers phenomenal and inspiring,” said Henry, 18. “And the whole festival is very enjoyable.”
Both Maria Parrini and Katherine Guan were at the festival two years ago and are glad to be back.
“I love the interaction, knowing there are 19 other performers around you,” said Maria, a 16-year-old from Greenville, SC. “If you stop practicing for five seconds you hear someone else doing something great and you go right back to practicing.”
Katherine agrees that the festival motivates participants.
“Listening to all your peers really encourages you to work harder,” said Katherine, 16, of Columbus, Ohio. “You see how hard everyone is working and you don’t want to deprive yourself of the opportunities the festival offers.”
Both young women also say that the competition is friendly and that the students are supportive of one another.
“For me the competition is really the smallest part of it,” Maria said. “I get to hear such varied repertories and different styles of play. You learn a lot from that.”
Matthew Reichenberger, a 15-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., like the whole thing.
“It’s just a really fun experience,” he said. “Everyone is really nice, the faculty and guest artists are so good – I like everything about it.”
Vanessa Hayes summed it up succinctly: “It’s a blast.”


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