Southeastern Piano Festival wraps up 10th anniversary year with great attendance, competition winners and significant donation


The Southeastern Piano Festival wrapped up Saturday night June 16 with a concert by the winners of the Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition and the announcement of a $20,000 gift to the festival. The Festival, June 10 – 16, had its most successful year ever with record attendance at concerts including 1,500 at its opening Piano Extravaganza Concert at the Koger Center for the Arts.

“This has been an amazing year with extraordinary students and guest artists and wonderful music that has been shared with large and enthusiastic audiences. To cap it off with an announcement of this gift is the perfect way to end our 10th anniversary festival,” said Marina Lomazov, Artistic Director of the Southeastern Piano Festival.

The first place winner of the Fraser Competition was Dong Yeon Kim of Idyllwild, Calif. The second place winner was Kevin Ahfat of Centennial. Colo., and third place was won by Evelyn Mo of Herndon, Va. Discretionary awards went to Vanessa Meiling Haynes of Shrewsbury, Mass.; Michael Lenahan of Rossford, Ohio; and Rieko Tsuchida of Mill Valley, Calif.

Artistic Director Marina Lomazov announced that an anonymous donor will match dollar for dollar up to $20,000 all donations made to the Piano Festival. The unnamed donor is a long-time supporter of the festival.

Also announced at the closing event is that Joseph Rackers, an assistant professor of music at the USC School of Music and Festival faculty member, will become co-director of the festival.

The Southeastern Piano Festival is composed of a week-long training program for pre-college students coupled with a series of concerts by accomplished pianists. This year 20 students from around the nation and one from Australia took part in the competition.

The top award winner Dong Yeon Kim has been grand prize winner of the Lake Lewisville Competition and in the Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition and has won top awards in the New Orleans International, Dallas Symphonic, National Young Artist Institute, MTNA, Wysong-Joplin and Denton Bach Society competitions. He has performed with the Dallas Symphony under conductor Jaap van Zweden. A native of South Korea, He moved to the United States in 2007 to continue his music studies.

As first place winner, he will receive a $3,000 cash award sponsored by Rice Music House-Steinway Pianos and the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic. The competition is sponsored by the Symphony League of the S.C. Philharmonic and named in honor of the founding music director of the Philharmonic.

Kevin Ahfat was a Silver Medalist at the Fifth Schimmel USASU International Piano Competition, first prize winner in the Boulder Philharmonic, Steinway & Sons and Bradshaw & Buono international competitions. He has performed with the Colorado Symphony, Arapahoe Philharmonic and will perform with the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra in August as first prize winner of the 2012 Schmitt Music Competition. He will begin studies at the Juilliard School in the fall.

Evelyn Mo is an eighth grader whose awards include first prizes at the 2012 Blount- Slawson Young Artist Concerto Competition, 2011 Chopin International Piano Competition, 2011 MSMTA Beethoven Sonata Competition, and the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington, DC, in 2008 and 2010. She has been invited to appear on NPR’s “From the Top’’ and has performed at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the National Gallery of Art.

The second and third place winners receive $1,500 and $1,000 respectively.

The competition jury was composed of Boris Slutsky, jury chairman and Peabody Conservatory Piano Department Chairman; pianist Alessio Bax; Natalya Antonova, Eastman School of Music Professor of Piano; and Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director of the S.C. Philharmonic. Dong Kim was also awarded the Young Jury Prize selected by a panel of USC School of Music graduate and doctoral students.

-- Jeffrey Day


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