Center for Historical Keyboards summer academy hosts 12 young piano stars

For seven days this summer, 12 young artists from around the world will be immersed in one of the world’s most significant collections of performance-ready historical pianos, as part of the Forte/Piano Summer Academy at Cornell University’s Center for Historical Keyboards, in partnership with the Westfield Center.

“The new educational initiative will give these students the opportunity of a lifetime, to be stimulated by instruments of the collection that are associated with music by all major composers, and to rethink the presumed meanings of familiar repertoire,” said Academy Artistic Director Mike Cheng-Yu Lee, visiting scholar and artist-in-residence at Cornell.

Academy faculty and participants will offer performances, master classes and lectures open to the public every evening from August 1 to August 6 (see the schedule below).

Selected as part of a competitive application process, the young artists participating in the July 31-Aug. 7 academy will work intimately with internationally-renowned artist-teachers, including Lee; Malcolm Bilson, professor emeritus of music in Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences; Tuija Hakkila,  professor of piano, Sibelius Academy, and Roberto Poli, professor of piano, New England Conservatory of Music. Participants will have the opportunity to practice daily and perform on historical pianos from the Cornell collection.

“Through this inaugural academy, we hope to help develop the quintessential 21st-century pianist, one who straddles comfortably the once separate spheres of historical and modern performance and who can be fluent in performing on pianos and repertories that span the history of this glorious instrument,” Lee said.

Participants will concentrate on solo piano repertoire ranging from the late Baroque to the early 20th century, working with the artist-faculty towards a public recital performance.

In addition to the week-long academy, the Center is hosting an intensive two-day academy for piano technicians. Participants will learn conservation principles, working with hardware, period action regulation and more.

“The Center needs specialized skills from piano technicians for our piano collection to be kept in performance-ready condition, and few opportunities exist for acquiring this expertise,” said Lee. “Our academy for piano technicians seeks to fill that need.”

The intensive will be led by restorer-technicians Ken Eschete, a professional associate in the American Institute for Conservation who has worked with the Smithsonian and Colonial Williamsburg, and Ken Walkup, recently retired as Cornell’s piano technician, and who continues to offer his expertise to maintain the Center’s unique historical instruments.

Recital schedule

Monday, August 1:
Mike Lee performs Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor, D. 845 and Chopin’s four Scherzos, utilizing the 1825 Graf and 1843 Pleyel pianos.
7:30 pm
Barnes Hall
 
Tuesday, August 2:
Performing on the Wolf-Schantz (ca. 1800), Tuija Hakkila plays Mozart’s arrangement to his Overture to Entführung aus dem Sérail, Sonata in C Major, K. 330, and Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333, along with Haydn’s Sonata in E Major, Hob. 31.
7:30 pm
Lincoln Hall, room B20
 
Wednesday, August 3:
Chopin specialist Roberto Poli uses the 1843 Pleyel for his performance of Two Nocturnes, Op. 55; Mazurka in C Minor, Op, 56, No. 3; Fantaisie in F Minor, Op. 49; Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60; Berceuse in D-flat Major, Op. 57; Ballade in F Minor, Op. 52.
7:30 pm
Barnes Hall
 
Thursday, August 4:
Academy participants Aurelia Vişovan, Gabriel Merrill-Steskal, and Pedro Sperandio perform music by Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Tchaikovsky
7:30 pm
Barnes Hall
 
Friday, August 5:
Academy participants perform (performers and repertoire TBA)
7:30 pm
Lincoln Hall, room B20
 
Saturday, August 6:
Academy participants perform (performers and repertoire TBA)
7:30 pm
Barnes Hall

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