KonZert KidZ@SEPF


Konzert Kidz, a new initiative begun last summer, becomes a regular SEPF program and continues with concerts throughout the year. Designed to attract young audiences to concert halls, Konzert Kidz gives children life-long appreciation of the live music experience. More than 100 families signed up to participate in the event at last year’s Piano Fireworks concert, allowing children to come on stage and interact with the Steinway Grands after the festival’s opening concert.

Upcoming Konzert Kidz concerts are:

Saturday, February 6th, 7:30 PM*
South Carolina Philharmonic presents “ALL THAT JAZZ”
With Phillip Bush, piano, performing Gershwin and Ravel

*Free admission for children and half-off adult tickets in your party when you and your kids join the Konzert Kidz initiative here. Tickets may be purchased at the box office anytime prior to the concert by presenting the confirmation email.  Children will receive an autograph from the soloist and a certificate of attendance.

Monday, February 22nd, 7:30 PM
Lomazov-Rackers Piano Duo
USC School of Music Recital Hall (free)

Sunday, April 24th, 5:00 PM
Lomazov studio concert
An interactive multi-media event designed for children of all ages
USC School of Music Recital Hall (free)

With Konzert Kidz

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2015 Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition Winners Announced

2015 Winners Take BowAfter a day of phenomenal performances, the winners of the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition have been announced.

Young Jury Award: Vincent Liu
Solo Award: Avery Gagliano
Discretionary Awards: Baron Cao, Vincent Liu, Kevin Takeda
Third Place: Avery Gagliano
Second Place: Jonathan Reichenberger
First Place: Derek Chung

Congratulations to all of our participants for an exhilarating day of music making!

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Where are they now? Past SEPF winners continue to achieve great things

The Steinway & Sons Concert Grands are being tuned and polished and the UofSC School of Music is being readied to welcome 20 accomplished participants to the Southeastern Piano Festival June 14-21.

Coming from more than a dozen states, young participants of the 2015 festival converge on the University of South Carolina campus and Columbia to spend a week honing their talent with prestigious faculty and guest artists, including two Van Cliburn medalists and an Italian prodigy. The 20 participants were selected from one of the strongest pools of applicants in the festival’s history, according to festival artistic director, Marina Lomazov. They will compete at the week’s end in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition.

Past winners of the festival continue to accomplish great things. They are performers, teachers and advocates. These are three festival alumni who continue to excel.

Sonya Schumann

Sonya Schumann, a USC graduate, is finishing up her D.M.A. at the University of Michigan and holds top prizes in many competitions. She is serving as chair of the 2015 SEPF Young Jury.

In addition to winning first prize in the 2004 SEPF, Sonya has been a prize winner at the Bartok-Kabelevsky-Prokofiev Competition, Williamsburg Symphony Concerto Competition and the South Carolina Music Teachers Association Competition. She has given performances throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia, and most recently, she has been invited to perform at Oberlin Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory and the Kennedy Center.

Sonya and her sister, Elizabeth, founded the international Piano Theatre in Boston to provide public access to the arts and to engage audiences with innovative combinations of classical music, theatre, literature, art and technology. Sonya and Elizabeth perform as the Schumann Duo, promoting classical music for children in areas where arts programs and funding have been cut. Sonya also serves as an ambassador for the Piano Arts Consortium, performing benefit concerts and giving master classes across the East coast.

Sonya is passionate about teaching and has appeared as a guest lecturer and master class presenter at several festivals and colleges, including Keys Fest, Music Teachers National Association, Central Michigan University, Red Rocks Music Festival and Art at Noon at LexArts.

Eric Lu

The young Eric Lu, 2013 SEPF third-prize winner and current freshman at Curtis Institute of Music, recently placed first in the highly prestigious Chopin National Piano Competition in Miami. Eric has also received top prizes at a number of major international competitions. He received first prizes at the 9th Moscow International Chopin Competition for Young Pianists in 2014 and the Minnesota International e-Piano Junior Competition, where he also won the special Schubert Prize in 2013.

Eric has given performances across the U.S., in Germany, Italy and China and has collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra, the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia, Wellesley Symphony, the Longwood Symphony and the Boston Civic Symphony.

Kevin Ahfat

Kevin Ahfat, 2012 SEPF second-prize winner, is currently a junior at Juilliard where he won the 2013 Julliard Concerto Competition, resulting in his New York City debut performing in Alice Tully Hall. He is a 2015 SEPF guest artist on the Alumni Celebration Concert and is volunteering as festival associate for the week.

Acclaimed by Estes Park News as a pianist of “exceptional breadth” whose “spirited, flawless performance stemmed from the very depth of his soul,” Kevin has performed both as solo and chamber artist in numerous venues nationally and internationally, including the Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center in Arizona, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York, Boettcher Concert Hall in Colorado, and Fumin Hall in Kyoto, Japan.

He has garnered top prizes in many national and international competitions – the 5th Schimmel International Piano Competition, Steinway & Sons Concerto Competition, the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, and the Eastman International Piano Competition.

Kevin is also actively involved in community outreach initiatives. He has worked with the Music Advancement Program at Juilliard and was a mentor and coach for the MERIT Outreach Program at the Music Academy of the West.

For a complete list of festival events, locations and guest artists, and to purchase tickets, visit the Southeastern Piano Festival website. Buy tickets online here.

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2015 Southeastern Piano Festival Participants Announced

The Southeastern Piano Festival is proud to announce the 20 participants selected to participate in this year’s festival.

This year’s participants hail from all over the country, representing 15 states, and are already extremely accomplished, having won regional, national, and international competitions.   Several have been featured as soloists with orchestra and performed in renowned venues, such as Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center.  To read more about these impressive young pianists, please visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SoutheasternPianoFestival.

The participants will perform their best solo and concerto works in what has become the culmination of the festival, the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition.  They will be vying for several awards and an opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic.  The competition will take place on Friday, June 19 at the University of South Carolina Recital Hall and will also be live streamed online.


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Tickets are on sale for the 2015 Festival

The Southeastern Piano Festival will commence the sale of tickets to the 2015 events, starting this Sunday, March 1st.  This year’s festival continues on its promise to offer nightly concerts, starting Sunday, June 14th through Sunday, June 21st. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Alexander Korsantia in Concert Offering a rich lineup of world‐class pianists, the festival will begin this year with the Piano Fireworks Opening Gala Concert on Sunday, June 14th at 4pm at the Darla Moore Business School, in the Johnson Performance Hall, located at 1014 Greene Street, Columbia, SC. The concert will feature Marina Lomazov, Joseph Rackers, Phillip Bush, Charles Fugo and additional guests, performing on Living Legends Steinway Concert Artist Pianos chosen for performance by some of the greatest names in music: Billy Joel, Diana Kroll, Lang Lang, Keith Jarrett, Harry Connick Jr. and more. Rounding out the week of events, internationally‐acclaimed pianist, Alexander Kobrin will take the stage on Thursday, June 18th at 4pm at the Columbia Museum of Art, located at 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC.

Noted by the BBC Russia as “the Van Cliburn of today”, Kobrin’s music career has established a front row seat among musicians of his generation. Kobrin is the Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is one of the most prestigious and important piano competitions in the world. He has received numerous special awards for his brilliant technique, his musicality, and his emotional engagement with the audience through music.

The 2015 festival will include twenty of some of the best pre‐college pianists on the piano scene today, taking part in a rigorous program that includes daily lessons with USC piano faculty, master classes with guest artists and up to five hours of practice a day. The week’s events culminate with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, adjudicated by a distinguished panel of judges. Winners of the competition receive awards and the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic.

“It’s amazing to see how each year the Southeastern Piano Festival continues to enrich the lives of the youth who participate and contribute to the thriving cultural life of the Midlands,” said Marina Lomazov, SEPF founder and artistic director. “Our musical community is excited about our 13th annual festival— the festival continues to evolve, yet stays true to offering something for everyone who loves piano.”

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Hugo Kitano plays with the South Carolina Philharmonic

Southeastern Piano Festival Winner Performs with S.C. Philharmonic

19-year-old pianist Hugo Kitano will be featured soloist at “Beethoven & Blue Jeans” concert

COLUMBIA, S.C. – From Carolina to China, Hugo Kitano has won recognition for his profound artistic maturity. The 19-year-old will join the South Carolina Philharmonic this Saturday, October 11, as featured piano soloist for the group’s opening performance of the season, “Beethoven & Blue Jeans.”

Robert Beale, writing in International Piano magazine, praised Kitano as “unusual for a player of his age and an excellent augury for the future.” Recent honors for Kitano include second prize, the top prize awarded, at the Moscow Chopin Piano Competition hosted in Foshan, China, and first prize at the 2013 Southeastern Piano Festival (SEPF) Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. As the first prize winner at SEPF, Kitano received a cash award and the opportunity to perform with the S.C. Philharmonic.

“It’s a joy to see how the Southeastern Piano Festival enriches the lives of the youth who participate and the cultural life of the Midlands,” said Marina Lomazov, SEPF founder and artistic director. “Our musical community is excited about the opportunity to welcome Hugo back to Columbia and to observe his artistic journey in-person.”

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Southeastern Piano Festival brings legendary pianist to Columbia

A conversation with Leon Fleisher

By Glenn Hare (Originally published in UofSC Times)


A child prodigy at the piano, Leon Fleisher made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall at 16 and was one of America’s “young lions,” admired by the public and critics alike. Then in 1965 the music stopped after a neurological condition rendered two fingers on his right hand immobile. Bouts of depression followed, but Fleisher persevered, focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, conducting, teaching and serving as artistic director of the summer academy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After undergoing experimental treatments, Fleisher returned to playing with both hands 40 years later. In 2007, he was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor, the United States’ highest arts award for individuals.

After your Carnegie Hall premiere, you were among a cadre of young pianists selling out performances across the country. Were you like a rock star of the concert piano world?

No, it was nothing like that, at least not in America. I did a tour of South America in the early 1950s, and in Buenos Aries at that time, when any musician of any fame toured the country people would form fan clubs. Members were given special cards that offered discounts on household items. For a time, members of my fan club could purchase washing machines, toasters and other things at a reduced price.

But we were primarily a product of the time. Because of World War II, many of the great European musicians came to this country. Many began teaching. My colleagues and I were the first generation of musicians in America to work with these masters. We were a continuation of that grand European tradition. My musical “father” was Artur Schnabel. His teacher – my musical grandfather – was Theodor Leschetizky, a brilliant teacher. Leschetizky was a student of Carl Czerny, my (musical) great-grandfather, who was a student of Beethoven. Musically speaking, Beethoven is my great-great-grandfather.

Is it accurate that your mother was determined to mold you into either a world-renowned concert pianist or the first Jewish president of the United States?

You have it reversed. She was determined to mold me into the first Jewish president, and if that didn’t work, then a great concert pianist.

If you don’t mind, I’d also like to ask about your right hand. Why are pianists’ right hands more vulnerable to injury?

That’s a very perceptive question. When you open the lid of a piano to reveal the inner workings, you see lots of strings of varying lengths. The longer strings on the left side produce the lower, deeper tones, and the shorter strings on the right side make the higher, lighter tones. The right hand is responsible for playing the melody — the main tune — while the left hand plays the harmony. As a result, the right hand works much harder than left hand. And the fourth and fifth fingers are the weakest, with the least independent motion. They have to work especially hard. It’s no surprise that so many pianists who develop hand problems have them in those fingers.

 Can you recall the early symptoms that led to realize something was wrong?

Writer’s cramp is the best way to describe the early sensation I felt in my fingers, and gradually my fourth and fifth started curving into the palm of my hand. They soon tightened in this position and I lost the ability to control them. I was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological disorder akin to Parkinson’s disease. It took a long time to reach that diagnosis and there is no cure. However, the symptoms can be treated with a cosmetic drug, Botox. It relaxes the muscles enough so that I can move my fingers.

What were some of the most extreme methods you considered?

Oh, everything from hypnosis to Zen Buddhism.

Is it true that Leonard Bernstein tried to heal your hand by pouring Scotch on it?

[Laughter] That was part of the Zen Buddhism treatment.

What advice would you give others faced with similar physical challenges?

I don’t feel I’m qualified to give any advice. I only know that after several years of some pretty bad behavior, I came to the realization that music making is far more than playing with two hands. I concentrated on performing works for the left hand, of which there are many. Most were written for a pianist who lost his right hand in World War I. I also began conducting, which made me a better teacher. So, at least for me, I believe my music career is richer and deeper because of the problems I’ve experienced with my hand.

 The Brahms D Minor Concerto is considered your signature piece. You’ve performed it throughout your career – at your Carnegie Hall debut and later, after regaining the use of the right hand. Why is this work so dear to you?

My mother and father gave me a recording of it when I was very young. The D Minor is massive, powerful and emotional. The opening sound of the timpani and horns is like thunder — a defiant cry from the massed force of the orchestra. I instantly loved it. Within a year or so, I began work on making it my own. I dreamed of playing with a full orchestra. I debuted with it. I played it when I won the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1952. And I made a recording of with George Szell that some people have called a classic. It’s never lost its freshness for me, and we’ve grown together throughout time.


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