Fall piano series

Join Dr. Olga Kleiankina, our director of piano studies, and the students in her piano studio for a series of virtual presentations and master classes this fall featuring a remarkable lineup of guest speakers and pianists.

Details on the individual events can be found below. All events are free and open to the public. Advanced registration is required.

Coming soon

August

Workshop: Becoming You

How to design a career doing the work you do better than almost everyone, that brings the most value to others, that people need and that makes you happiest.

Julian Toha
CEO and co-founder of Oclef
Aug. 27, 5:30 p.m.

Julian Toha is the CEO and co-founder of Oclef. He left his career as a touring concert pianist in 2014 to move to Silicon Valley and start Oclef. At the time, he was performing over 72 concerts each season as a soloist. While touring, he discovered the systemic problem of piano education students dropping out. In piano education, the majority (upwards of 83% in some research studies) of piano students drop out within the first 3 years.

Julian started Oclef in 2014 as an education software company and met his co-founder Phong Le later that year and they co-founded Oclef in March 2015. Since then it’s served thousands of piano teachers through their iOS app, Podcast, and media. In 2019, Oclef began opening schools around the SF Bay area, Seattle, and DC powered by their software, media and innovative methodology. In their schools, students learn “Piano Every Day” as their tag line states. Unlike conventional piano education, students attend piano lessons, classes and piano enrichment courses seven days a week.

Today, Oclef is one of the fastest growing piano schools in the United States. It also has new companies which are developing to provide technology and media services. Julian hopes to use Oclef’s growth into a national brand as the way to solve piano education’s drop out problem.

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September

Piano Master Class

Gjergji Gaqi
Pianist
Sept. 17, 5:30 p.m.

Equally at home in solo and collaborative music, pianist Gjergji Gaqi maintains an active performing career throughout North America and Europe. Together with his brother and accomplished pianist, Piro Gaqi, through the Gaqi Piano Duo, they have brought the varied, folk-inspired piano duo repertoire of Europe and North America to audiences of both continents. 

He studied piano and chamber music under Prof. Dario de Rosa and Prof. Alberto Miodini at the International School of Chamber Music “Trio di Trieste” in Duino (Italy), while completing the bilingual International Baccalaureate diploma. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Music major and Economics minor from Colby College, where he also won the concerto competition, studying piano with Dr. Cheryl Tschanz and composition with Dr. Jonathan Hallstrom. 

As a Walgreen scholarship recipient, he pursued his graduate studies under Prof. Christopher Harding and Prof. John Ellis at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, while also assuming the role of Graduate Student Instructor in Piano. Dr. Gaqi is currently Professor of Piano at Tyler Junior College, having previously taught at Siena Heights University, College of the Mainland and Brazosport College. He has served in many capacities with the East Texas Music Teachers Association, including previously as the association’s president and currently as chair of the Helen Elbert Chamber Music Festival. In addition to being a sought-after adjudicator of festivals and competitions, Dr. Gaqi is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Settenote Online Piano International Competition.

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October

Lecture: Piano Music of Colombia

Jhany Lara
Professor of Piano, University of North, Colombia
Oct. 8, 5:30 p.m.

Prof. Jhany Lara is a pianist, pedagogue and a member of the Music Section of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). 

She is the author of the books Cuban Sonatas for Piano: Musical Heritage of the Great Caribbean Basin (2010) and Study of the Piano: Methodological aspects (2014), both published by Ediciones Uninorte.

Ms. Lara is a full professor of piano at the University of North, Colombia. Her previous appointments were at the University of the Atlantic and the Reformada University in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is a triple recipient of the Award for Teaching Excellence in the Classroom at the University of North, where she is leading the Uninorte Musical Research Group (GUIM) since 2014. Lara’s research is currently focused on Colombian composers.

Lara holds a Master in Arts from the Institute of Art of Havana, Cuba, where she also graduated with a Bachelor of Music in piano. She has also studied at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, Austria and Curtis Institute, United States.

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Piano Master Class

Xiaofeng Wu
Pianist
Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m.

XIAOFENG WU ‘s piano performances in the US and Europe have been highly recognized by music critics, numerous publications including ABC, YAHOO, Radio Clasica, Pravda, Politica, OpusMusica, El Mundo and many others. Along with his recent performances at the Jiangsu Centre of the Performing Arts (a.k.a JSCPA), POLY Theatre series, Shanghai Concert Hall, Hongkong Great Hall and many, Xiaofeng Wu has been recognized as one of the most reputable pianists of his generation.  

As a soloist and pedagogue, Xiaofeng was invited to many professional events such as Ameri-China Int’l Piano Competition & Winter Festival 2020, Maccagno Piano Days Int’l Festival(2017,2018), Xiamen Int’l Piano Festival (2016), Ningbo Int’l Piano Festival (2018). He is on the jury panel of the Premio Int’l Pianistico “A.Scriabin” (2020), WCM Int’l Piano Competition (2019, 2020) and Hong Kong – Asia Int’l piano competition, etc. His film recordings of performance and tutorials of classic solo repertoire are available at Tido® Piano Masterworks Series released by Edition Peters, London. The Chopin Project® has commissioned him for his recording of Chopin’s substantial repertoire for online stream cast.     

Xiaofeng drew international attention when he performed at the Beijing APEC conference for the leaderships of many countries. He is also the recipient of 1st Prize of the 10th Guerrero Foundation Int’l Piano Competition (Madrid), 1st Prize of the Society of American Musicians Piano Competition (Chicago), the Mabel Henderson Memorial Prize, and academically, the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan. In 2017, Hong Kong government awarded him residency according to the Quality Migrant Scheme. Currently Xiaofeng Wu is an elite piano faculty of Pädagogische Universität Nanjing‍, School of Music. 

Xiaofeng Wu is the founder of The Chaconne Chamber Ensemble, The Thames Piano Trio, and The Wu Artists Promotions and Institute. As a scholar and educator, Xiaofeng Wu’s students have garnered many national prizes and admission with high scholarships into major institutions such as Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Arizona State University, Cleveland Institutes, Royal Conservatory of Music, etc. Xiaofeng actively introduced the Urtext edition publishers such as Wien (universal), Henle as well as Peters. He was commissioned to write concert reviews for Maestro Yin, Chengzong, Mischa Maisky, Cyprien Katsaris and many others, and have been collected in various magazines and press. In 2020, Xiaofeng Wu was appointed the Artistic Director of the Asian Pianists Association. 

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November

Lecture: Two forgotten Romantic Composers—Chopin’s Schoolmate Antoine de Kontski (1816-1899) and Liszt’s Favorite Hungarian Student Károly Aggházy (1855-1918)

Slawomir Dobrzański
Pianist and Professor of Piano, Kansas State University
Nov. 5, 5:30 p.m.

Praised by the Buenos Aires Herald as “one of the best Polish pianists”, Sławomir Dobrzański delights audiences with his expressive touch, intelligent phrasing, and elegant technique. As a soloist and chamber musician, he performed in over twenty countries in Asia, Europe, North and South America.

Dobrzański released several critically acclaimed world-premiere recordings of piano music by Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831), Antoni Kątski (known also as Anton de Kontski) (1816-1899), Wiktor Łabuński (1895-1974), and Károly Aggházy (1855-1918), published by the London-based label Acte Prealable. He is also an author of the first biography of Maria Szymanowska in the English language, published by the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California.

Originally from Wrocław, Poland, he is a graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, Poland, and the University of Connecticut. He currently resides in Manhattan, Kansas, where he serves as Professor of Piano at the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at Kansas State University.

Recently, the pianist was honored with the title of “Meritorious for National Culture” by the Government of the Republic of Poland.

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Piano Master Class

Cahill Smith
Pianist
Nov. 19, 5:30 p.m.

Pianist Cahill Smith has performed in major venues in the United States and abroad, including four programs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, Chongqing’s PolyTheatre, Zhuhai’s Mozart Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall in Boston, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Royal Dublin Society’s Concert Hall, Buffalo’s Kleinhan’s Music Hall, and Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Center. Cahill has been featured as a concerto soloist with the National Ukranian Symphony Orchestra in Kiev, the Mongolian Symphony Orchestra in Hohhot, China, the Eastman Philharmonia, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Chattanooga Symphony, the Butler Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and others. His live and studio recordings have been broadcast on WQXR, New York’s Classical Music Radio Station, WCRB, Classical Radio Boston, and WSMC, Chattanooga Public Radio.

Cahill gave his first recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2013 with a program dedicated entirely to works of Nikolai Medtner. Two years later, in a review of his 2015 solo recital in the same venue, New York Concert Review wrote, “The entire second half was devoted to a special “cause” of Mr. Smith: the piano music of Nikolai Medtner […]. Here, Mr. Smith was in his element, revealing every twist and turn, every poignant repeat of the cyclic themes, with beautiful shimmering colors I haven’t heard since Gilels played the Sonata reminiscenza in Carnegie Hall in 1980.” Cahill has given recitals and lectures on Medtner’s music at Yale University, the International Medtner Festival in London, and others. In January of 2019, his debut album “Medtner: Forgotten Melodies” was featured as Classical Radio Boston’s “CD of the Week” for its “irresistible lyricism” and “a palpable sense of love – a real affinity for the directness and honesty in Medtner’s music, which goes straight to the heart.” 

Cahill completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music, where he served as the teaching assistant to Natalya Antonova. At Eastman, Cahill was the inaugural recipient of the Douglas Lowry award for excellence in degree recital performance, won the Eastman Concerto Competition, received honors in chamber music, and was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Cahill completed his Master’s degree at the University of Michigan with Arthur Greene, and his Bachelor’s at the University of Alabama at Birmingham with Yakov Kasman. Cahill previously served as Keyboard Area Coordinator and Artistic Director of the International Piano Festival and Competition at Lee University. He joined the faculty of Utah State University in 2019. Cahill is a Yamaha Artist.

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