Five-day festival gives community a chance to polish piano prowess


Daily Egyptian file photograph

By Isabelle Rogers

Novice and master pianists — and everyone in between — have a chance to learn, watch and be a part of performances and sharpen their musical skills during a five-day piano festival held on campus.

From Oct. 14 to 18, the School of Music is putting on the Southern Illinois Piano Festival.

The festival welcomes pianists Nina Ferrigno from Washington University in St. Louis and Sandro Russo from New York. It will include private clinics for students of all ages, public masterclasses and various recitals.


Ferrigno will be performing alongside associate piano professor Yuko Kato in a two-piano recital on October 16. Russo will be holding a masterclass for SIU students on October 17 as well as a final piano performance on October 18.

Festival director and associate piano professor Junghwa Lee said she wanted a festival to tie into SIU’s summer Piano Camp, a weeklong workshop on campus for students in the fifth grade and above.

Lee said though the festival is funded by the fine arts activity fee, it is open to the entire community.

SIU staff pianist and Piano Camp volunteer Jenny Kirby said she offered to staff the festival in order to connect with the Carbondale community and stay in contact with the previous summer’s piano campers.

Kirby said that the festival will provide an incentive for younger piano students to become involved in the piano community as it will give them a chance meet others who have an appreciation for classical music.

“[The festival is] not a normal opportunity to meet people of similar interests,” Kirby said. “People want [to meet] others who are interested in piano, and especially with the younger group who are in accelerated programs, they get to meet peers [who will] challenge each other. You get to check out how others are doing and it becomes motivation for yourself. I think it is very important to be in that environment.”

Lee said she also wants to create an educational environment for these younger students that may be hard to find otherwise.


“We are most importantly [looking] to continue the educational environment of music and the tradition of classical music and any kind of music making in the younger generations,” Lee said. “For SIU students, this is going to promote the audience base for the [near and distant] future. What I noticed in the community, in the past few years, is there are quite a few people interested in doing something like this.”

The festival offers clinics for piano students in levels three and up or lower level students with their piano instructor’s written approval.

The clinics are closed to the public, but family, friends and piano instructors may sit in on the lessons. The festival is charging $10 for a one-piece clinic or $20 for a two-piece clinic.

Clinic participants will also be given the opportunity to perform in the festival student recital on October 18, though participants are not obligated to, Lee said.

Though Kato said the clinics are mostly for community piano students, the festival is holding masterclasses as well, in which the public is welcome to be a part of the audience.

Students that are chosen from the clinics are invited to be a part of the masterclasses taught by Kato and Lee. The masterclass taught by Russo will only include SIU student participants, though anyone can be a part of the audience, Lee said.

The masterclasses are free for both the audience and the chosen students.

The main goal of the masterclasses is to delve deeper into the art and music making of the piece and view the piece at different angles, Lee said.

“It’s so interesting how we can see so many different aspects of the same piece,” Lee said. “Different artists mention different things and [the piece] could end up looking very different. It’s a different angle of the same artwork. When you look [at the piece] in a different light, it looks completely [changed].”

Attendees will be inspired by the chance to listen to and meet a variety of artists, Yuko said, and Kirby said students that attend all four recitals will receive a discount for next year’s piano camp.

“Everybody who is in attendance at the concert will be given this opportunity to witness the live music making of the wonderful artists that are visiting, as well as the excellent faculty of SIU,” Lee said. “… First timers for this kind of concert will hear something valuable that they will hold onto and remember [forever].”

Staff writer Isabelle Rogers can be reached at or on Twitter @isabellearogers. 

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