Southeastern Piano Festival to bring world concert halls to UofSC and Columbia

Some of the world’s top pianists will take the stage at the concert halls of the University of South Carolina and Columbia June 12-20 for the Southeastern Piano Festival.

Returning for its 19th year, the 2021 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.

“We are thrilled to once again present live concerts to our live audiences,” Lomazov says. “Of course, the halls are still operating at reduced capacity, and we are strictly adhering to all CDC guidelines and UofSC protocols, but it’s thrilling to be able to hear live music being created in a concert space that was designed for it. Live performances are precious and cannot be substituted by their electronic version.  We are thankful to our loyal patrons and supporters across Midlands and beyond for recognizing that fact and continuing to support live art.”

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.

The festival opens Saturday, June 12, with performances by the South Carolina Philharmonic at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts. Featured performances by guest artists include Richard Goode, Awadagin Pratt, Natasha Paremski, Avery Gagliano (Rising Star Showcase), The Concert Truck and Leo Svirsky and Reinier Van Houdt (Piano X).

The Marian Stanley Tucker Guest Lecture Series on Thursday, June 17, will feature Pratt in a master class and conversation. Pratt is a winner of the Naumburg International Piano Competition and recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant. Now a professor of piano and artist-in-residence at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, he has performed at the White House for the Obamas and for the Clintons.

Piano X also returns to the 2021 festival. This unique 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.  Piano X is headlined by The Concert Truck and its founders Susan Zhang and Nick Luby, who will give a free live concert at 8 p.m. Monday, June 14, on Columbia Museum of Art Boyd Plaza, and Svirsky and Van Houdt, who will perform via livestream at 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 14. The initiative also includes presentations, workshops and a showcase by SEPF participants at 1: 30 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, on the Columbia Museum of Art Boyd Plaza.

The Southeastern Piano Festival will culminate with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition on Friday, June 18. At the all-day event, young pianists, age 13-18, will perform and compete for more than $10,000 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. Saturday, June 19, followed by a closing ceremony and reception.

“The Southeastern Piano Festival attracts the most talented young artists from across the United States,” Rackers says. “The level of participants at the 2021 festival is as high as ever and we are looking forward to an outstanding week of music making.”

Visit the festival’s website for the 2021 Southeastern Piano Festival schedule and additional information about concerts, artists, student participants and master classes. While many of the festival’s concerts are free, guest artist concerts require ticket purchase. Concerts may be attended in person (seated is limited) or online. Tickets are available for purchase on the festival’s website.

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