Our Winter Newsletter is here featuring many wonderful updates on our past season of live-streamed concerts, an announcement of Pianofest faculty for 2019, an alumnus profile on Michael Brown, and a special interview with Steven Dickman as he looks toward retirement.
Thank you for your generous and continued support.
Director, Pianofest in the Hamptons
Last summer was the first time Pianofest pursued live-streaming and reached nearly 10,000 views in total. With the help of Artist-in-Residence Konstantin Soukhovetski, we streamed the Monday night concerts throughout the entire season.
Five of the six Avram Theater concerts collectively garnered more than 5,300 views!
Re-watch the full concerts: July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6.
To cap off this streaming initiative, we arranged a partnership with Primephonic to stream our August 13 finale concert. They did a series of interviews with Paul Schenly and the artists before the concert started, then streamed the full concert. Collectively, Primephonic’s live-stream garnered more than 4,500 views!
We look forward to pursuing more live-streaming this coming summer.
2019 Concert Dates Announced
Save the dates for exceptional concerts in 2019! We have announced details about the season on our website. This year we are expanding to include two additional concerts at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Dates will be announced soon!
We are excited to announce the faculty who will provide students with exceptional instruction in 2019. Learn more on our website. Here is a snapshot of each faculty member.
Director, Pianofest in the Hamptons
Artistic Director of the Cleveland International Piano Competition
Winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant
Appeared in the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center and in acclaimed recitals at Carnegie Hall
Professor of Piano, New England Conservatory of Music
Artistic Adviser of the annual music festival From Easter to Ascension
First Prize/Gold Medal at the Artur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition and at the Sidney International Piano Competition
Awarded one of the most prestigious Georgian national awards, the Order of Honor
Recently recorded the Beethoven Fourth Concerto with cadenzas by eleven different composers
Has taught for 18 years at the Juilliard School and for 39 summers at the Music Academy of the West
Frequent judge in international piano competitions and prizewinner of three international competitions (Bolzano, Darmstadt, and Brussels)
Has an extensive repertoire, including 59 performed piano concerti
Professor, Faculty of Music and Performing Arts at the University “Alfonso X el Sabio” (Madrid)
Professor in the Sommerakademie Mozarteum of Salzburg and Professor for 13 years in the Conservatorio Superior of Castellón
Founder and/or President of multiple piano competitions
Prizewinner in multiple competitions, including Guerrero Foundation International Piano Competition (Madrid) and International Piano Competition “Ciudad de Manresa” (Spain)
We are accepting applications for the 2019 season. Apply now and join us for the first or second session! Applications will be accepted until April 1.
Alumnus Feature: Michael Brown in Conversation with Zsolt Bognár
Michael Brown has been described as “one of the most refined of all pianist-composers” (International Piano) and “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers” (The New York Times). His unique artistry is reflected in his creative approach to programming, which often interweaves the classics and his own compositions.
Awards he has received include the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant. Michael was First Prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, a recipient of the Juilliard Petschek Award, and is a Steinway Artist. Michael's full biography is presented on his website. - Zsolt Bognár
“What is your first Pianofest memory?”
I was studying with Jerome Lowenthal at the time, and he mentioned it to me, in addition to having several students attend. Pianofest was the perfect place to be away from the distractions of normal life and to focus on music. I met Orion Weiss there, in the kitchen of course. We became great friends there and spent the summer practicing and talking about music.
I premiered your sonata for two pianos there at Pianofest in 2008—what has the balance been between piano and composition since then?
It’s a constant juggling act. Of course, as a pianist, there’s always a pile of music to learn. With my own compositions, I usually write for specific individuals and friends—this makes the pieces more likely to be performed or recorded. It has mostly been small ensemble pieces. Right now I am working on a work for clarinet and violin for Osmo Vänskä and his wife Erin Keefe called “A Relationship”. I recently had the chance to be in residence at the Aaron Copland House, where I was able to write music in seclusion in the woods. There I tried to learn Bartok’s Out of Doors Suite and to write music indoors as well. I am working on a concerto for piano and strings, loosely inspired by Beethoven in motivic ideas.
You seem to be winning every award under the sun these days. What does that feel like?
I’m honored and grateful, but really I just channel all my anxieties into hard work so that I might do better. I have so many questions about music and what it is trying to say.
What are your projects as a pianist right now?
I’m working on a program inspired by boats and barcarolles right now—anything connected with water—Ravel’s Miroirs for example. I am also learning Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety, and at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, I will be doing a program with Orion Weiss that includes Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as well as Messiaen. It will possibly be the loudest concert ever.
What’s the best thing about Pianofest?
It’s the sense of community that is fostered there, and this not only goes beyond the walls of the Pianofest house, but continues for years with many friendships. Paul still comes to my concerts. Being a pianist is very isolating—and that’s important for work—but also what is brought together at Pianofest is very important and healthy as well, especially for young musicians in their 20s. We gather and meet in the kitchen with “come listen to this”, and the discussions have continued for years afterward.
An Appreciation of Steven Dickman
With the coming retirement of Steven Dickman from his managerial duties at Pianofest, I recall my many summers at Pianofest with the awareness of his role in keeping everything together each summer, from the how-to instructionals around the house and with parking permits at the beach, to facilitating the trips to do grocery shopping for the students, to printing the weekly programs, to putting together barbecues. His dedication and friendship are a constant presence, and all of us at Pianofest are grateful for his many years of help and work. Here's a short interview I recently did with Steven. - Zsolt Bognár
How long were you with Pianofest?
I was working as a manager for 15 years, but I was originally involved as a piano tuner almost from day one. I tuned over at the college and touched everything up at the Pianofest house as well. I had to make sure all was ready in time for the arrival of the students. Later, when I became more involved, I suggested the Pianofest program that commissioned new music, including works by Victoria Bond, Michael Brown, Katherine Hoover, and Daniel Koontz.
I don’t really like the word “retire”—it makes it seem I will fade into oblivion, whereas you will all very much still see me at our concerts and events. I’m turning 75, and I thought this is a good turning point to spend more time for myself writing music. I have enjoyed Pianofest greatly, and it has been wonderful to be part of it for so long. The best part of Pianofest is spending the time together with everybody—the students especially, as well as our audiences. I hosted barbecues each summer at my house, which overlooks the bay. Sometimes there would be fireworks on the other side of the harbor, which would also be full of boats and was very beautiful. I hope to still have everybody over.
What’s a favorite memory?
A highpoint for me was having one of my pieces played in East Hampton at one of our concerts in our 25th anniversary season. Chaojun Yang played the set of variations, which I dedicated to Paul, and I am very grateful to them both for putting it on.
What’s your next project?
On June 10th, just before Pianofest gets underway, I will be putting on a show at Guildhall called The Violin Maker, which is a musical theater piece of sorts, and I wrote the story and the music. I hope to see many members of the Pianofest family there—the concert is at 7:30 PM on the 10th. I hope people will come to support the effort!