There will be no cooler place than the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center in July when internationally acclaimed pianists Leon Fleisher and Stefan Karlsson will be special guests for the WVU Keyboard Festival and Competition, to be held July 2-6.
Titled “The Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music: a Piano Festival for Students and Teachers,” the event will explore the many ways jazz and classical music intersect and influence each other.
“The festival idea sprang from a desire to celebrate the piano and diminish the barriers between the classical and jazz piano worlds,” said Christine Kefferstan, professor of piano and one of the organizers of the event. “The WVU faculty is committed to supporting our piano students’ interests and training in both jazz and classical piano.
“Our aim is to stimulate a deeper appreciation for the connections between jazz and classical music, as well as to have a great deal of fun,” she said. “The energy created by the gathering of our distinguished guests, invited area teachers, and musicians entered in the competitions is not to be missed.”
The festival will feature piano competitions for both high school and college students in the areas of jazz and classical music, with prizes that include WVU scholarships, substantial cash awards and opportunities to perform in the festival’s classes and concerts.
The registration deadline for the piano competitions is June 1.
Workshops will include topics such as: the elements of jazz, gaining skills in improvisation, and acquiring a new vocabulary. Other events include teacher panels, clinics with the guest artists and master classes with WVU faculty, students and guest artists.
With the importance of diverse skills in today’s job market, festival panel discussions will also explore emerging technology and career opportunities.
Concerts, including a WVU Showcase Concert, will feature WVU faculty James Miltenberger, Peter Amstutz, Lucy Mauro and Christine Kefferstan, as well as their students and the guest artists.
Two special public events will be held as part of the festival:
A jazz concert by Stefan Karlsson will be held Monday, July 2, at 7 p.m. (admission $10) and “A Conversation with Leon Fleisher,” including reception, will be held Thursday, July 5, at 7 p.m. (admission $15). Both events will be in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre. For tickets and information, call (304) 293-SHOW or see www.ticketmaster.com.
Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher represents the gold standard of musicianship and, at 83 years young, he continues to impart his life-affirming artistry throughout the world, thriving in a sustained career as conductor and soloist, recitalist, chamber music artist, and master class mentor. Fleisher’s musical pedigree is remarkable: he was a student of the great Artur Schnabel who studied with keyboard giant and pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky, a pupil of Carl Czerny, who in turn studied with Ludwig van Beethoven. Fleisher was born in San Francisco in 1928, and began playing piano at the age of four. He made his formal public debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1944 under the baton of Pierre Monteux, who famously recognized him as “the pianistic find of the century.”
In 1952, Fleisher became the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels, placing him among the world’s premier classical pianists. His numerous honors also include the Johns Hopkins University President’s Medal and several honorary doctorates. In 2005, the French government named him Commander in the French Order of Arts and Letters, the highest rank of its kind. He was Musical America’s 1994 “Instrumentalist of the Year,” and also the Royal Philharmonic Society’s “Instrumentalist of the Year” in 2010. Fleisher received the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors for his contribution to U.S. culture. Fleisher currently holds positions at the Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. For more information, see his official website at: http://www.leonfleisher.com/
Stefan Karlsson was born and raised in Vastervik, Sweden. His father played the piano professionally and became the source of inspiration for Stefan’s interest in piano and jazz. Karlsson also started with church organ lessons at the age of 13 and studied organ into his college years. After completing high school, he came to the United States on a scholarship to study at the University of North Texas. He spent six years at UNT and became, for three years, a member of the “One O’clock Lab Band.” While in the band, he toured nationally and internationally. In 1990, he signed a three-CD recording contract with Justice Records in Houston, Texas. His latter two recordings were a great success on the national jazz radio charts, GAVIN and R&R, with a first place on both charts for his second release “The Road Not Taken.” Karlsson’s fourth release, “Live at Vartan Jazz,” was recorded in 1997 by Vartan Jazz Records in Denver, Colorado. The album is a live recording and features bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund.
His music has been featured in the 1994 movie releases “Sugar Hill” (featuring Wesley Snipes), “Twenty Bucks” (featuring Christopher Loyd), and the 1997 Independent film “Strays.” Karlsson’s music can also frequently be heard on the television series “Melrose Place,” “Party of Five,” “Wings” and “Homicide.”
After having resided in Denver, Colo. (1991-1994) and in Las Vegas, Nev. (1994-2002), where he was Coordinator of Jazz Studies at UNLV, Karlsson is currently a faculty member in the University of North Texas’ jazz studies division. In addition, he has also been part of the Stanford Jazz Workshop since 1992 working as a clinician and performer. He stays active playing at festivals, clubs and conferences worldwide as a leader and sideman. His discography includes 61 recordings with eight CD’s as leader. Karlsson has had the opportunity to travel the globe performing in concert halls, at festivals, clubs, and giving clinics at conferences and universities. See Karlsson’s website at: http://jazz.unt.edu/karlsson.
For more information on the WVU Keyboard Festival and Competition, contact Christine Kefferstan at 304-293-4521, email email@example.com, or see the Keyboard Festival and Competition website at: http://music.wvu.edu/keyboardfestival.
The priority registration date for the Festival is June 30. *
To register online, go to: http://wvu.augusoft.net/.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
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