2016 piano festival features world’s 'smartest piano'

Spirio, the world’s smartest player piano, will take center stage at the 2016 Southeastern Piano Festival in Columbia. Spirio, engineered and handcrafted by Steinway and Sons, is the newest high-resolution player piano and is capable of offering performances by some of the world’s greatest pianists that cannot be distinguished from their live performances.

Spirio will be featured at the festival’s Piano Extravaganza Gala Concert, as one of four Steinway grand pianos in a performance that will showcase eight pianists, in solo, duo, eight- and 16-hand ensembles and multimedia. “The Spirio is truly remarkable, magical in the way it reproduces your own performance down to the smallest possible nuance,” says Lomazov, who serves as the festival’s artistic director.

The Piano Extravaganza Gala Concert kicks off the weeklong festival in the Johnson Performance Hall at 4 p.m., June 12.

2016 guest artists include Sergei Babayan, winner of the Queen Elizabeth and Hamamatsu International Competitions and soloist with orchestras worldwide; Ann Schein, a protégé of Arthur Rubinstein, whose remarkable career includes performing as soloist with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras; the duo of Ran Dank and Soyeon Kate Lee, first- and second-prize winners in the Naumburg Competition; and, rising star artist Eric Lu, prizewinner in the Warsaw Chopin Competition and a Southeastern Piano Festival alumnus.

In addition to the concerts, 20 of the most gifted pre-college pianists from across the country participate in a rigorous program of lessons and masterclasses, as well as compete in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. The festival offers an insider’s view into the making of the next generation of pianists, says program director Joseph Rackers. “The level of young pianists keeps rising, and any one of them has the potential to go on to a career as a professional pianist.”

Throughout the week, traditional and unconventional venues host performances, transforming downtown Columbia into a destination for piano concerts. “From the Columbia Museum of Art and Trinity Cathedral to the Big Apple historical building, there are concerts throughout downtown and something for everyone,” says Lomazov.

Moderately prices tickets make attending multiple concerts possible. Masterclasses, discussions and competition performances are free. The Southeastern Piano Festival “Konzert Kidz” program allows all children younger than 18 to attend any of the concerts for free and provides discounted tickets to their parents or guardians. A complete list of festival events and tickets are available at the Southeastern Piano Festival website.

2016 Southeastern Piano Festival Concert Schedule

June 12, 4 p.m. Johnson Performance Hall, Darla Moore School of Business
Marina Lomazov, Joseph Rackers, Philip Bush, Charles Fugo and guest pianists featured on four Steinway grand pianos
Tickets: $20 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

June 13, 7:30 p.m. USC School of Music
Eric Lu
Tickets: $20 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

June 14, 4:30 p.m. Big Apple Building
SEPF On the Road student participants concert, free

June 14, 7:30 p.m. Columbia Museum of Art
Sergei Babayan
Tickets: $20 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

June 15, 7:30 p.m. USC School of Music
Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank
Tickets: $20 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

June 16, 7:30 p.m. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Ann Schein
Tickets: $20 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

June 18, 7:30 p.m. USC School of Music
Winners of the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition
Tickets: $10 general admission, $5 students, free 18 and under

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