A world of piano music comes to Columbia, SC, for the 11th annual Southeastern Piano Festival. The week-long Festival, June 9 – 15, will welcome Armenian, South African, Japanese-American and Chinese-American pianists.
“We strive to bring the most talented and distinctive pianists in the world to the Festival. The Festival has become more international each year, inviting the most celebrated concert artists,” said festival artistic director, Marina Lomazov.
Along with its stellar concert series, the Festival also trains 20 young pianists from throughout the United States and abroad who participate in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. Most concerts and the competition are held at the University of South Carolina School of Music.
For the first time, the festival will also present one of its major concerts at the Columbia Museum of Art with a performance by virtuoso Sergei Babayan. The Thursday, June 13, concert will be held in the DuBose Poston Reception Hall where the Chamber Music on Main series (formerly Charles Wadsworth and Friends) takes place. Partnering with the museum will allow the Festival to accommodate more listeners and reach out to new audiences.
“We are thrilled to partner with a leading cultural institution in the region for this important concert,” Dr. Lomazov said. “The Columbia Museum of Art has for 50 years been the center of art activity in Columbia both in the visual arts and performing arts, and we are pleased to be part of that rich history.”
A native of Armenia, Sergei Babayan studied at the Moscow Conservatory and early in his career won first prizes in several major international piano competitions. He has been soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Detroit Symphony. Since 2006 he has performed regularly with conductor Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. At Gergiev’s invitation he has performed at White Nights, with the London Symphony Orchestra, at Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés in Paris.
“Mr. Babayan belongs to an elite breed of new pianists,” according to American Record
Guide. “This is elegant playing, intelligent yet colorful, rational yet never wanting
for passion and tenderness, irreproachable on every level.”
Only 21, Claire Huangci made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and has performed at the St. Petersburg Hermitage Theater with the St. Petersburg Symphony, the Ravinia Festival, the Caramoor Festival, Bonn Beethovenhaus, Salzburg Mozarteum and the Shanghai EXPO with Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. She won First Prize in the Europäischer Chopin Klavierwettbewerb in Germany, the Orpheum Music Prize in Switzerland and the National Chopin Piano Competition. She is one of five finalists for the 2013 American Pianists Association Award.
“At times it was hard to believe that such a slender, petite woman could breathe such fire and brimstone and call forth the torrents of sound,” wrote the South Florida Classical Review of a concert she gave in Miami.
She attended the Curtis Institute of Music and continues her piano studies at Hannover
Musikhochschule in Germany.
A native of South Africa, Petronel Malan won five gold medals at international piano competitions throughout the United States in 2000. Her 2004 recording “Bach Transformed” was nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best Instrumental Solo Album.
At age 10, Malan debuted with the Johannesburg Symphony and subsequently won all major national competitions in South Africa. She has performed at Carnegie Recital Hall, Mozarteum (Salzburg), Liszt Museum (Budapest), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Alte Handelsbörse (Leipzig), Bass Hall (Fort Worth), as well as the Ravinia and Gilmore International Piano Festivals and with orchestras in Russia, Colombia, the Republic of Georgia, Italy and others. Her four recordings on the Hänssler Classic label are transcriptions of music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
Wrote one reviewer “Malan has steel fingers in speedy passages, a great ear for tonal colors, a remarkable sense of musical architecture and the emotional intensity of an operatic diva.”
The Festival will also welcome Yoshikazu Nagai who has performed as soloist and chamber musician at the Shanghai Concert Hall, National
Recital Hall in Taiwan, Carnegie Hall, The National Gallery and the Aspen Music Festival.
At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music he is Professor of Piano and faculty member
at the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy at the Central Conservatory
in Beijing. He frequently serves as juror and guest artist throughout the United States
and Asia including recent master classes at the Shanghai Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory,
Lawrence Conservatory, and in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He will give the Marian Stanley
Tucker Lecture during the Festival.
The Piano Fireworks Concert launches the Festival opens Sunday, June 9 with performances by Marina Lomazov, Festival program director Joseph Rackers, Festival faculty members Charles Fugo, Phillip Bush and others. Micah McLaurin and Naomi Causby, co-winners of the 2010 Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, will give a concert Monday, June 10.
Along with performing, the guest artists will work closely with the students who are admitted to the Festival through a rigorous selection process. Master classes are open to the public as is the day-long Fraser Competition (June 14.) Winners of the competition will give the closing concert for the Festival June 15. Along with a cash award the winners have the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic.
Many students selected have already made significant strides in their careers and have been admitted to top-ranked schools including the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory and Oberlin Conservatory.
Festival concert schedule
Sunday, June 9, 6 p.m.
Piano Fireworks Concert and Opening Ceremony
Monday, June 10, 7:30 p.m.
Alumni concert with Micah McLaurin and Naomi Causby, co-winners in 2010 Fraser Competition
Tuesday, June 11, 7:30 p.m.
Rising Star concert: Claire Huangci
Wednesday, June 12, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 13, 7:30 p.m.
Sergei Babayan (Columbia Museum of Art, Main and Hampton streets)
Friday, June 14, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition
Saturday, June 15, 7 p.m.
Fraser Competition winners concert
Unless otherwise noted concerts take place in USC School of Music Recital Hall, 813
Assembly St. in downtown Columbia.
The competition is free and open to the public as is the winners’ concert. Ticket prices for other concerts range from $20 to $30 and all concerts are free to those under 18.
For more information, visit the Southeastern Piano Festival website.