I had an amazing and unforgettable time at the Southeastern Piano Festival held at the University of South Carolina in Columbia this past week. I worked with 19 other talented pianists and avid musicians, and seven of them had attended the program in previous years. There was also a very helpful staff along with a highly dedicated faculty including Professors Joseph Rackers, Charles Fugo, Phillip Bush, and Marina Lomazov, whose studio I was assigned to for the week. Dr. Lomazov, the artistic director of the festival, was knowledgeable and approachable, and she had presented an amazing solo and duo concert at the start of the festival. SEPF offered many learning opportunities such as a Van Cliburn documentary, daily private and group lessons which were open to the public, and lectures and performances by faculty and guest artists including Petronel Malan, Yoshikazu Nagai, Morihiko Nakahara, and Sergei Babayan. The community involvement was immense, and the performance hall was packed for almost every concert and master class. The week culminated with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, master classes, and the closing ceremony. To my excitement, I was selected by Sergei Babayan to perform in his master class along with three other SEPF students, which was held on the final day of the program! Professor Babayan teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music and had given an amazing concert earlier in the week. The master class was exciting, and Professor Babayan gave very straight-forward advice to all of us. He was able to formulate interesting stories to convey his ideas, which was quite helpful.
Attending the Southeastern Piano Festival was an incredible experience. We were immersed in an environment where we were able to listen to each other, critique one another, and reflect on our own playing in order to improve. The guidance given to us from the different faculty was invaluable. This was a terrific start of the summer!