Pianist Leon Fleisher to Offer Master Classes
Pianist Leon Fleisher will present three master classes as well as a guest lecture for the Southeastern Piano Festival.
“Leon Fleisher is a seminal figure, both as an artist and a teacher,” said Joseph Rackers, co-founder of the festival with his wife, Marina Lomazov. “For the students at the festival, we felt it would be a very inspirational experience for them to be exposed to someone like him. We’re really honored that he’s going to be with us this year, and I know that audiences all around the state are looking forward to him.”
The Southeastern Piano Festival features world-class performers as well as master classes for a select group of 20 young students from across the nation.
It’s the only piano-focused festival in the Southeast region. Events occur at various venues throughout Columbia.
The master classes are all free, allowing music fans to look on as celebrated professional pianists work with individual students. Performances, however, carry an admission fee.
Fleisher, 85, was a child prodigy who made his debut at 16 as soloist with the New York Philharmonic. He performed and recorded extensively with the world’s great orchestras. In 1964, Fleisher was struck with a neurological condition rendering two fingers on his right hand immobile. For the next 40 years, he focused exclusively on piano repertoire for the left hand only. He was able to regain use of his right hand in 2004.
The festival opens on June 15 with a “Piano Extravaganza,” featuring a half dozen pianists performing on several pianos with the South Carolina Philharmonic.
“We’re partnering with the South Carolina Philharmonic to start the festival with a bang,” Lomazov said. “We’re inviting alumni of the festival to perform in the concert in different combinations of two pianos, five pianos and piano with orchestra. There’ll be a lot of great music for a splashy concert.”
Solo performers at the festival this year include internationally acclaimed pianist Alexander Korsantia, the gold medal winner at the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition.
“He’s a fantastic pianist,” Lomazov said.
Korsantia will play Beethoven’s “Eroica” Variations as well as works by Copland and Chopin in his recital on June 19.
Other guests include the London-based pianist Ingrid Jacoby, who’ll perform Mussorgsky’s original solo piano version of “Pictures at an Exhibition” on June 18.
The festival also features rising American star Andrew Tyson.
“Andrew Tyson is in his early 20s, but he’s already making a name for himself as a winner of many competitions,” Lomazov said.
The festival also includes a student competition on June 20, followed by a solo performance by the winner of that competition on June 21.
The student winner also gets to perform a concert with the South Carolina Philharmonic next season.
“It’s such an incredible experience to be able to play with such a great orchestra,” Lomazov said.
For students, the festival is highly competitive. About 80 students internationally applied by audition for the 20 slots available.