Our First Digital Newsletter for Pianofest!

Greetings and welcome—we are excited to introduce this new way to connect our community to news, upcoming events, features, and profiles. We love to hear from you, and hope you enjoy!
— -Zsolt Bognár, editor, April 2, 2017

Konstantin's Corner

Greetings to all, and welcome to my corner! As I reflect on the summer of 2016 at Pianofest, the first thing that strikes me is how diverse and truly international Pianofest is! The 28th season welcomed artists from Guatemala, Lithuania, Israel, Italy and Armenia - to name a few. All bring their culture, their musical heritage, and their eating habits along, which makes for a - shall we say dynamic - household at the Pianofest House. We heard remarkable performances of beloved staples such as Liszt's Totentanz by Niccolo Ronchi (who threatened the integrity of the roof with both the power of his performance and eruption of applause afterward), and were introduced to the wonder of new music with unforgettable marvel of "Rainbow Machine: Genesis of Chant" by Masahiro Miwa, performed to perfection by Joey Chang. 

Jacopo has added another cameraman to the crew: this one is an unmanned flying object a.k.a. The Drone! With stunning visuals and creative vision, we are able to produce the best video material yet to showcase our artists, Pianofest, and to invite the world into ours in The Hamptons. We have also updated and re-vampted our social media where you and your friends can regularly watch performances, interviews, and life-vignettes from past summers! We are thrilled for the wonders that are in store for us in the summer of 2017! And as a suggestion: due to heavy traffic on 27, start walking to Avram Theater now! 


Ana Daniel

Board Member Profile: Ana Daniel

Ana, how did you first become involved in Pianofest?
I have always had a particular love for the piano. It was quite a few years ago that a friend of mine invited me to join for one of the Southampton concerts, and I was amazed by what was going on with the high level of playing and sense of community, and started attending regularly. I got to know Paul Schenly there and subsequently through the parties, and later became a board member. For me, one of the very special things about Pianofest is the way it brings students and sponsors together as a community, and forms the basis for lasting friendships among board members and students. I believe that student alumni retain special memories of their time in the Hamptons, musically and personally. I know they work very hard, but I also love sharing recreational moments with them, which allows us to get to know them informally.
How did you come to music in the first place?
Music has been a fantastic discovery in my life, and I came to it specifically because of my longtime and dear friend, tenor Robert White, who I met right after college. Being involved with Pianofest has been further a pleasure because it is a joy to see the growth and development of young talent. Many alums have become close friends. I look forward to many summers to come!


Alum Snapshot: Phil Kwoka

(Pictured L-R: Phil Kwoka, I-Chieh Wang, Daniil Trifonov)

(Pictured L-R: Phil Kwoka, I-Chieh Wang, Daniil Trifonov)

Phil, how did you start playing piano?
Mom and dad bought a piano before I was born, and they said “this child will play piano”—it was predetermined. There is a photo of me somewhere of me as a toddler in a diaper with my hands at the piano. I started with piano lessons when I was five.
What was your first experience with Pianofest?
I was 19—I asked Paul Schenly if I could go to Pianofest and he said no! I had just started to study with him. Sometime later after, a performance of mine, he approached me with an invitation to attend. I was overjoyed. Paul Schenly has changed my life. He is probably the most significant person in my life outside of my family. We have a connection and understanding that is greater than that of just a student and a teacher—it’s a friendship. I have tried to incorporate what he learned from his life experiences into my own.
What’s a fun memory of Pianofest?
There are too many to list! The full moon and sunsets at the beach—Mr. Schenly always said to me that those are the times one remembers the most. The lessons and concerts are great, but the fun around the Pianofest house and in the setting of the Hamptons define the experience. Musically, I learned a lot. I remember working on the Liszt Tarantella with him, and being set in my own way of playing it—eventually I had to realize that what Mr. Schenly was saying was more correct. It is always that way. Many great musicians come to play for him and were helped by him. He is very insightful and nurturing. I continue to play for him from time to time whenever I need help.
What are your projects these days?
I am now the executive director of the Bronx Conservatory of Music, which has been around for 26 years. The mission there is to give kids of all backgrounds from the surrounding community affordable lessons of the highest quality. Music education in the public schooling system doesn’t really exist anymore, or the quality is variable. A general education is already very expensive. It’s my dream to replicate this same system of affordable music education in other places and other countries. Music in the lives of children is an extraordinary gift with many gifts and rewards.

Alumni News

Tania Stavreva has released a debut album, “Rhythmic Movement” that has reached the top ten on the Billboard classical music charts.
Tomer Gewirtzman played a New York debut at Merkin Hall following a victory at the YCA Auditions and appeared in the Greene Space in the studios of WQXR.
Konstantin SoukhovetskiJacopo Giacopuzzi, and Matthew Griswold have produced more videos of the Pianofest reality series, now featuring interviews and profiles of our students, as well as videos with musical and life advice from distinguished visiting faculty member and longtime Pianofest friend Jerome Lowenthal. Visit the Pianofest Facebook page to view.
Orion Weiss will appear this summer with the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center this summer on July 10, and at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival August 10-15.
Sergei Babayan, now on faculty at Juilliard and Cleveland Institute of Music, has recorded Chopin with Daniil Trifonov for Deutsche Grammophon, and continues his tours with Martha Argerich and Valery Gergiev.
Michael Brown continues his tours with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and collaborations with Nick Canellakis, and has just completed a Zurich Tonhalle recital debut. He will appear at Zankel Hall at Carnegie on April 6.
Kwan Yi is now full-time piano faculty at Radford University, VA, and has continued concert tours in prestigious venues around the world, including at the Rockport and Ravinia Festivals.
Cahill Smith has started a piano competition and festival at Lee University, TN
Josh and Lindsey Lambert Wright are now married and gave birth to a daughter. Josh continues his online series of instructional piano videos, and performed at the Chopin Festival in El Paso, TX

Sergio Ruiz

Glenn Korff School of Music selects Sergio Ruiz as new director

The Glenn Korff School of Music’s new director, Sergio Ruiz, is a “breath of fresh air” that will bring music students and faculty together, according to College of Fine and Performing Arts Dean Charles O’Connor.

“First and foremost, he is a fantastic musical artist in his own right,” O’Connor said. “But second, he is an innovative and accomplished educator who has developed music programs and has great ideas on how best to teach students music.”

The role of director of the School of Music is a job that entails overseeing more than 50 faculty, with a large staff and about 400 students. Not only does the director deal with the academic aspect of the school but also with the extracurricular ensembles that perform on campus. This includes three choirs, a marching band, various orchestras and jazz bands.

Ruiz’s experience is abundant, spanning many positions. He is a Steinway artist, and before becoming chair of Georgia College Department of Music, he was the director of keyboard studies. He was also the director of the Institute of Latin American Music Studies at the Sam Houston State University School of Music in Huntsville, Texas, from 2007-13.


- Save the Date! -

Few things in the world have more mythological allure than music and cuisine. One is the food for the soul while the other is nourishment for the body. When the two come together - Pianofest's Rites of Spring happen!

Come to Louis Meisel's Soho gallery for the special and exciting evening of Pianofest's talent and Susan Meisel's art of turning edibles into true culinary masterpieces! At this spring gala you are encouraged to mythologize your wardrobe, too. Can't wait to see you there and share the heavenly delights!

When: Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m.
Where: at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in Soho

The Louis K. Meisel gallery is located at 141 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 (Near W. Broadway)
Parking is legal, delightfully free, and easy after 6 p.m.

For more information about the event please see our website at Pianofest.com and click on the tab "Gala." To contact us or to learn more about Pianofest, please write to

Pianofest in the Hamptons • P O Box 639 • Hudson, OH 44236

...Or contact Sophia Hiltner by telephone (216.577.7447) and by email (sf.hiltner@gmail.com)