piano festival

The School of Music decided to hold the Piano Festival again after its success last year. The festival started last weekend and will conclude this Sunday in the A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall.

East Carolina University’s School of Music is hosting their second annual Piano Festival, which initiated this past Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall with a performance by guest and performing artists Yukiko and Keiko Sekino, Kwan Yi, and John O’Brien.

The festival concludes on Sunday. General admission for a single show is $30, and admission for ECU students is $10. There is an option to purchase an admission package for all four shows for $90, according to the School of Music’s webpage. The two additional shows on Sunday, June 30 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. by students in the Young Artist Program are free.

The festival continued this past Sunday at 3 p.m. with a performance Wei-Yi Yang, gold medal winner of the San Antonio International Piano Competition. Andrew Tyson, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and Young Concert Artist International Auditions, performed last night at 7:30 pm, the webpage said.

“The East Carolina Piano Festival brings together internationally acclaimed artists and talented young pianists to eastern North Carolina for an exceptional musical experience,” according to the webpage.

Keiko Sekino, artistic director for the Piano Festival and associate professor of piano at ECU, said the School of Music decided to hold the festival again after its success last year.

Sekino said that the festival expanded to offer four ticketed public concerts by guest and faculty artists, as well as two additional public concerts by selected talented young musicians who are participating in the Young Artist Program.

“A total of 25 pianists come together for the festival, a fantastic roster of world-class artists, ECU piano faculty and 17 outstanding young pianists from across the United States.”

According to Sekino, the Young Artist Program is a training program for pre-college and collegiate pianists who are invited to participate through an audition process. Participants range in age from 10 to 21, including students from major music conservatories.

17 participants in the Young Artist Program have been selected to attend and perform through an audition process, half of them being from North Carolina and the other half coming from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, California and China, Sekino said.

“We would like to offer opportunities to talented young pianists from North Carolina and beyond to immerse themselves in intensive study of piano and music, and to come together with other young musicians,” Sekino said.

According to Sekino, the guest artists who are performing in the festival include Jerome Lowenthal from Juilliard School, Andrew Tyson, who is an NC native, Wei-Yi Yang, and Yukiko Sekino, gold medalist in the Russian Music Competition.

Sekino and her colleague Kwan Yi, assistant professor of piano in the ECU School of Music, invited the guest artists to perform in the festival. Sekino said she looked forward to seeing the guest artists perform, as well as the young artists in the program.

“I look forward to being immersed in wonderful piano music played by so many different artists of all ages, each bringing a unique perspective and personality, and to share music and all the experiences of the festival with these wonderful artists and to form a sort of a musical community together,” Sekino said.

Sekino said ECU students should attend the festival as it is an opportunity to see “beautiful music and exciting concerts by world-class artists and talented young musicians.”

Dr. John O’Brien, the director of Opera Theatre, chairperson of the department of vocal students and accompanying professor, has been a member of ECU’s faculty since 1985 and said he was performing in the first concert.

“I’m not performing a lot, just in the first concert doing two pieces. One of the pieces I’ve done many times before and love playing it. It is for two people at one piano, and it is by the French composer Francis Poulenc,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said he looked forward to playing with Sekino’s sister, Yukiko Sekino, and performing the second piece of the Festival’s opening concert along with Yukiko and Keiko Sekino and Kwan Yi, which will be four people playing on one piano.

Jerome Lowenthal will be performing on Friday at 7:30 pm, and the Young Artist Program shows will be on Sunday at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. For more information on the festival, visit the School of Music’s webpage, or call 252-328-5184. For ticket information, call the Central Ticket Office at 252-328-4788.

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