In just its second year, the Washington College Piano Festival is giving high school and college students a unique opportunity to advance and develop their musical skills and talents. The one-day event, part of Washington College’s Department of Music, will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2019, at the Gibson Center for the Arts, and is open to the public.
Interested applicants were asked to submit a recording from a designated advanced or intermediate piano piece. Chosen participants will have an opportunity to meet other pianists, attend workshops, and take part in one-on-one lessons with faculty members. They will also be able to perform in a competitive concert in Hotchkiss Recital Hall for a panel of Washington College faculty judges. Winners will receive cash prizes.
The idea for the Piano Festival came about during a lunch between two Washington College faculty member—Dr. Matthew Brower and Dr. Woobin Park. Park, a renowned international pianist, recalls learning about a colleague who created a piano festival in his department at another university. “We don’t have a piano festival here,” she said, “so why don’t we try to create one?”
The festival, which is being described as an ‘immersive educational experience,’ attracted internationally acclaimed guest artist Yong Hi Moon, Professor of Piano at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Moon will be teaching a master class during the afternoon and, as part of the Washington College Premier Artists Series, will perform a concert in the evening at the Decker Theater.
Park is excited about everything the festival can offer to a burgeoning pianist. It’s a beautiful setting, she says of the recital hall and the campus. The focus of the day will be on classical music, particularly the German repertoire of Bach, Beethoven, Shubert, and Brahms. “In the workshop class, we will talk about reality as a musician, [musical] careers, and how to practice. It will be unique,” Park says. “The world is becoming superficial. Learning about classical music gives people a chance to be in the ‘now,’ be in the ‘moment.’”
Park is no stranger to those types of moments. She has been playing for over 30 years throughout the United States and Korea and has performed in various prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and Seoul Arts Center. Winning various competitions and receiving full scholarships for her outstanding performance and academic achievements, have allowed her to continue and expand her education and study under distinguished musicians. Park completed her Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) at the University of Minnesota. She is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music in Piano at Washington College.
As for the future, Park sees the Piano Festival as an excellent opportunity to invite other outstanding pianists and expand to different genres, such as jazz. For now, however, she looks forward to sharing her experiences with a new group of talented students. Her advice to them will be: don’t feel too comfortable. A little anxiety helps to convey the music effectively. “We need a certain sense of intensity,” she says. “Finding a balance between being relaxed and having anxiety, makes a perfect performance in a concert.”
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Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.