Highlighting Indie Music in the Summer Music Festival Season

So we are officially in the midst of the summer festival season, and dedicated local music lovers have probably caught various local acts populating the stages at Rosewood Crawfish Festival (which had an excellent line-up of local acts this year), Stereofly’s Rootsy Memorial Day Festival at Art Bar, the Back To Rockafella’s celebration, or West Fest. The more cultured have also stopped in on the Southeastern Piano Festival, a week of world-class piano performances which is as of this writing mostly sold-out (we recommend checking out the Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition, where young contestants duke it out in dazzling style from morning to night. It's this Friday, June 14, at the School of Music recital hall, and it's free).  More festivals are on the horizon, including the wince-inducing resuscitation of the Three Rivers Festival on July 6 and 13. Jasper loves a diversity of musical experiences, but in particular loves when Columbia gets a bit more cutting-edge. Two festivals this summer offer some of that edginess where others play it safe.


The first is Recess Fest, which is happening this Friday, June 14th, at a variety of venues across Columbia. An off-shoot of the Charlotte festival, which is celebrating its sixth anniversary this year, the festival derives its name from the carefree spirit of school recess, and champions a community-centered approach while introducing local acts from across the state. Spearheaded by people person bandleader and Can’t Kids drummer/singer Jessica Oliver, the night offers a reasonable festival-style cost for a rambunctious line-up. Here are the details:

New Brookland Tavern Modern Man - Charleston Elim Bolt - Charleston Octopus Jones - Raleigh (formerly Columbia) One Another - Charlotte Red Door Tavern Great Architect - Charlotte Magnetic Flowers - Columbia Dear Blanca - Columbia Luciferian Agenda - Charlotte State Street Pub Blossoms - Charlotte Dumb Doctors - Charleston Let’s Go, Coyote! - Columbia Jordan Igoe - Charleston Silent Spring Ensemble - Columbia Conundrum Music Hall Roomdance - Columbia Happiness Bomb - Columbia Sandcastles - Columbia Late Bloomer - Charlotte Hunter Gatherer Brewery Bo White & su Orchesta Fat Rat da Czar with Grand Royal

All of the shows except for the Hunter-Gatherer one start at 7 and finish around 11, with festival-goers convening at the brewpub for an after-party with Bo White and Fat Rat (which Jasper thinks was a thoroughly excellent planning decision). The line-up demonstrates an excellent mix of bands who play the town frequently with some lesser-knowns from from the Charlotte area.

Here's a video from Charleston favorite Elim Bolt, recorded as part of our own Fork & Spoon's Casual Friday series, who will be playing the New Brookland stage:


The second festival we want to highlight is Spit Fest (“SP”ace “I”dea “T”apes Fest) , an annual DIY music festival on July 4th dedicated to celebrating “outsider art and culture centering around Columbia, SC.” Organized by the Space Idea Tapes record label, which does casette-only releases of bands throughout the tri-state area, the festival features off-kilter and oddball acts seldom-seen on any other big festival bill in Columbia--and fast-moving, 15 minute sets that allow for a rather expansive line-up on one stage in a single night. Now in its third year, the festival wants to be a bit more above-ground and move away from its house show origins--this  year, Conundrum Music Hall is hosting, and the festival has an Indie GoGo fundraiser which finishes up at midnight tomorrow. Check out the fundraiser site here--note the nice incentives, as well as the other logistics needs Space Idea Tapes still has. The festival will also feature a BBQ potluck and regional visual artists showcasing their work. Check out the line-up below.



We'll leave you with a tune from the Spit Fest-featured elvis depressedly's lastest ep, holo pleasures, which was reviewed in the current issue of Jasper (pick one up, if you haven't already!).


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


Reach Jeffrey Day at Carolinaculture@hotmail.com and visit us at Jasper at www.JasperColumbia.com


News from the Southeastern Piano Festival

Our friend and frequent contributor, Jeffrey Day, is something of a classical music freak.  So when he tells us something is good - Jasper listens. Jeffrey just shared this coup with us so we thought we'd turn around and send it out to you. He's talking about another amazing performer that Marina Lomazov has brought to the Southeastern Piano Festival, currently going on at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia.


Here’s what they’re saying about Alessio Bax who will perform at the Southeastern Piano Festival Thursday night: With an electrifying technique, the 33-year-old Italian pianist delivered riveting performances of Brahms, Enescu and Bartok. It was a wonderful musical event, one which left many audience members shaking their heads in astonishment.

His program unfolded with an ease, precision and beauty so seemingly effortless that the music appeared to live and breathe of its own volition.

… has both the nimble fingers and the easy charm required to give the concerto a marvelous outing.

…dispatching the breakneck runs with a smooth, clean, silvery tone.

These are a few recent praises showered on Mr. Bax, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, one of the most prestigious awards in classical music. During the past 12 months, Mr. Bax has performed on opening night of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's season, with the Dallas Symphony and Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and orchestras in London, Bilbao, and Mexico City and in recital from Hong Kong to Iceland. He has also also performed in recent years with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Rome Symphony and as a chamber musician he has collaborated with Joshua Bell, Emmanuel Ax and Anne-Marie McDermott. For his Piano Festival concert he will perform Brahms’ Ballades, Op. 10; Liebesleid and Liebesfreud by Fritz Kreisler, Five Preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff, closing with Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata by Franz Liszt. This is a concert you will not want to miss. Be at the USC School of Music Recital Hall at 7:30 Thursday, April 14. For tickets call 803-576-5763 or email frontoffice@mozart.sc.edu.


You can watch his performances at http://www.alessiobax.com/


Southeastern Piano Festival kicks off 10th anniversary with big concert at the Koger Center


If you love the piano, have we got a week for you.

The Southeastern Piano Festival kicks off its 10th year with a Piano Extravaganza concert featuring 16 pianist, five pianos and the S.C. Philharmonic on June 10 at the Koger Center for the Arts. The festival runs through June 16 with concerts by well-known and up-and-coming musicians.

“The festival has been a success on so many levels and we’re thrilled to be celebrating our first decade,” said Marina Lomazov, Festival Artistic Director. “The festival continues to provide top-flight training for young musicians, but has also grown to be one of the most significant showcases of piano music.”

Dr. Lomazov will perform at the Piano Extravaganza along with fellow USC piano faculty Joseph Rackers and  Charles Fugo, guest pianist Phillip Bush, a dozen past winners of Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition, and the S.C. Philharmonic conducted by Music Director Morihiko Nakahara.  The concert includes works by Mozart, Bach and Wagner and five pianists performing movements from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst on five Steinway concert grand pianos. The concert will close with Lomazov and Rackers playing the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor by Francis Poulenc.

The festival blends a week of exciting concerts with a training program for 19 young pianists from around the country and one from Australia who take part in the Fraser Competition. Those who want to see some of tomorrow’s great pianists today can watch the competition from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 15. Competition winners will give the closing concert June 16.

Among the other highlights of the week are performances by Boris Slutsky, first prize winner of the Kapell International Piano Competition and chair of the piano department at the Peabody Institute, playing the music of Ravel, Chopin and Schuman on June 13 and Alessio Bax, recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, performing Rachmaninoff and Liszt pieces on June 14.

Students attending the festival will give an afternoon concert at the Columbia Museum of Art June 12. A number of young pianists will be in the spotlight including past winners of the Fraser Competition Leo Svirsky and Sean Yeh performing June 11 and George Li, the 15-year-old winner of the Gilmore Young Artist Award, playing June 12.

Admission to the Piano Extravaganza is $25 for VIP seating and $15 general admission, $10 for seniors, students, military, USC faculty and staff and free for those under 18. Tickets are available through capitoltickets.com or by calling (803) 251-2222.

The other concerts will be held at the USC School of Music Recital Hall. Admission is $20; $10 for seniors, USC faculty and staff, students and military and free to everyone under  18.  For tickets call (803) 576-5763 or email  frontoffice@mozart.sc.edu

The Svirsky and Yeh concert is $5.

The competition concert is free.

For a complete schedule and more information about tickets, concerts, guest artists and participants visit the Piano Festival website http://sepf.music.sc.edu/

Concert lineup for the Southeastern Piano Festival (unless otherwise noted concerts are at the USC School of Music Recital Hall, Assembly and College streets.)

Sunday, June 10, 4 p.m. Piano Extravaganza concert.

Monday, June 11, 7:30 p.m. Alumni Celebration Concert with Leo Svirsky and Sean Yeh.

Tuesday, June 12, 1:30 – 3 p.m. Southeastern Piano Festival on the Road. Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.

Tuesday, June 12, 7:30 p.m. George Li.

Wednesday, June 13, 7:30 p.m. Boris Slutsky.

Thursday, June 14, 7:30 p.m. Alessio Bax.

Friday, June 15, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition.

Saturday, June 16, 7 p.m. Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition Winners' Concert and Closing Ceremony.