Willis Delony (September 10, 7:30 pm)
Hugues Leclère (October 7, 2007, 4:00 pm)
Nikita Fitenko & Students (November 10, 2007, 7:30 pm)
Seok-Rahn Kwon (January 26, 2008, 7:30 pm)
Thomas Duis (February 23 , 2008, 7:30 pm)
Luis Sanchez (April 5, 2008, 7:30 pm)
Willis Delony (USA)
Willis Delony has won national and international acclaim as a jazz and classical pianist, conductor, chamber player, commercial composer, and arranger. His concert explorations of the jazz and classical piano worlds have been showcased in a recording entitled, A New World A' Comin' - Classical and Jazz Connections, which was released on the Centaur label. In a review published by Fanfare magazine, Peter Burwasser writes: "(Delony) plays with gusto and finesse, and with an especially nimble rhythmic sensibility, a proper combination of attributes for jazz, or any other kind of music-making, for that matter." Previous album credits include a recording of sonatas by Samuel Barber and Sergei Prokofiev, also on the Centaur label, and a jazz album entitled Civilized Conversations, featuring Delony and bassist Bill Grimes. He is featured in a collaboration with bassoonist William Ludwig on the recent recording, Rhapsody in Bassoon, on the Mark Records label, which features the world premiere recording of André Previn's Sonata for Bassoon and Piano. Most recently, he recorded piano music by Joseph Makholm, David Baker, Bill Dobbins and John Lewis for an album entitled Double Dance - Classical and Jazz Connections II, to be released by Centaur Records in 2007.
During recent concert seasons, Delony has appeared as piano soloist or conductor with American orchestras in Wichita, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toronto, Madison (Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra), Spartanburg (South Carolina), Rochester, Omaha, Nashville, Fort Worth, New Orleans (Louisiana Philharmonic), the Sun River Festival Orchestra in Bend, OR and the Florida Orchestra (Tampa). He has appeared recently as guest soloist with the Columbus (GA) Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, the Baton Rouge Symphony, the Louisiana Sinfonietta and, in a 2002 Asian tour, the Shanghai Symphony. In July, 2006 he performed a solo recital in Offenburg, Germany as part of the Kreuzgangkonzerte series, performing a special program entitled Jazz Meets Mozart. In November, 2006 he traveled to Paris for an appearance as solo recitalist on the La Main d'Or concert series. An experienced jazz arranger, Delony's scores have been performed by orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada. His work as pianist, arranger and conductor is currently featured in Club Swing and Stay Tuned, the popular orchestral shows featuring the Minneapolis-based vocal group Five By Design. He performed as conductor/pianist on the CD recording of Club Swing, which was released in January 2002.
Delony is the Barineau Professor of Keyboard Studies and Professor of Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Prior to his LSU appointment in August of 2000, he taught for fourteen years on the music faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University where he received the university's President's Award for Excellence in Artistic Activity. He is also the recipient of an Artist Fellowship by the Louisiana Division of the Arts in recognition of his achievements in classical and jazz performance.
Hugues Leclère (France)
Born in France, Hugues Leclère perfected his playing with Catherine Collard before entering the Paris National Conservatory (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique), from which he graduated with high honours in piano, music theory, and chamber music. During his years at Conservatory, he studied at with Jean-Claude Pennetier, Jean-François Heisser, Alain Planès, Régis Pasquier, and Alain Louvier.
Mr. Leclère has played numerous recitals in France, including appearances at the Cite de la Musique, the Festival d'Ile de France, Festival Présences of Radio France, Riom, Boucard, Pierrefonds, Flaine, Melle, La Prée, Musique en Albret, Abbaye de Sées, Mazaugues, and Chateauneuf du Pape. He has also performed at Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Musikhalle in Hambourg, Germany, Coimbra Festival in Portugal as well as in the US, Japan, China, Maroco, Belarus, Italy, and Spain.
Mr. Leclère has been invited to play with many orchestras including the Soloists of Saint Petersburg, Camerata of Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Orchestre d'Auvergne, Orchestre Symphonique & Lyrique of Nancy, Minsk Orchestra, Timisoara Orchestra, and l'Ensemble Itinéraire among others.
An outstanding interpreter of Debussy, Ravel and their contemporaries, Hughes Leclère also demonstrates his artistic maturity in the works by German and Austrian composers. His passion for Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven brought him to research the original sonority of classical instruments. Mr. Leclère has his own Fortepiano (the early version of the piano), the crystalline finesse of which is perfect for the late 18th century masterpieces.
An active participant in the contemporary artistic life, Hughes Leclère works with many composers promoting their new compositions. He collaborates with the CCN Ballet National de Lorraine in the productions of music by Tchaikovsky and Bartok, proposing various original shows which intermingle different artistic expressions.
Hugues Leclère combines his active performing career with teaching at the Paris Conservatory (Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris), and CNR, where he has been on the faculty since 1995. Mr. Leclère is also the artistic director of the Nancyphonies Festival and the European Music Masterclasses in Nancy, France.
Nikita Fitenko & Studio
Internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Nikita Fitenko has performed recitals and with orchestras in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, and South and North America. He has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as St. Petersburg Capella Symphony, Russian Chamber Philharmonic, Russian Philharmonic of Moscow, Oregon State Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Conservatory Orchestra, State Hermitage Orchestra, Slovak National Philharmonic, Lewisville Symphony, Rapides Symphony, Northeast Texas Symphony, and Northwestern Symphony Orchestra.
While performing a wide and diverse repertoire, Nikita Fitenko is an acknowledged master of Russian piano music. He recorded three CDs for Altarus Records of works by leading contemporary Russian composers. His initial recording of solo piano works by Georgy Sviridov (1997) and his two-CD set of music by Sergei Slonimsky (2000) have garnered rave reviews from the international music press. Fanfare Music Review wrote, "Fitenko plays magnificently!" Slonimsky himself described Fitenko's interpretation of his piano music as "outstanding." He also added, "It is very vivid, imaginative, virtuosic, fascinating, and pianistically brilliant." Mr. Fitenko's latest recording - Scriabin's Piano Concerto with the Russian Philharmonic of Moscow scheduled to be released on Classical Records label in November 2007.
Native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Nikita Fitenko graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatory with a citation for excellence given to only five other graduates in the last fifty years. After receiving the Anton Rubinstein Memorial Award he came to study to the US pursuing his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas. His principal teachers included Roman Lebedev, Igor Lebedev, and Joseph Banowetz.
Nikita Fitenko is a prizewinner of several competitions including Byelorussian International Piano Competition (Minsk, Byelorussia), Beethoven Piano Competition (Memphis, TN), and the Houston Symphony National Young Artist Competition (Houston, TX) among others.
Since 2002, Nikita Fitenko has been Artistic director of the Louisiana Piano Series International. He is also founder and Artistic director of the Louisiana International Piano Competition and Festival and the Orlando International Piano Competition.
Dr. Fitenko is currently Associate Professor and coordinator of keyboard area at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.
Seok-Rahn Kwon (South Korea)
Seok-Rahn Kwon is one of the most outstanding pianists in Korea. Her recent performance with Busan Philharmonic Orchestra at the prestigious Korea Orchestra Festival received rave reviews from the music press: "Dazzling and colorful sound, her playing is persuasive and brilliant"
As a solo Artist, she has performed at Mozarteum Summer Academy (Salzburg, Austria), Banff Summer Festival (Banff, Canada) and had numerous solo recitals in such halls as Jordan Hall and Williams Hall at New England Conservatory in Boston, Concert Hall at the University of North Texas in Denton and Recital Hall at the Seoul Arts Center in Seoul. She has performed many concertos with Korean Symphony Orchestra, Kang-nam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Busan Philharmonic Orchestra.
She has won New England Conservatory Honor's Audition, New England Conservatory Concerto Competition, Clark University Competition and was a prize winner of International Viotti Valsesia Competition.
Native of Seoul, Korea, Seok-Rahn Kwon received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music with Full Scholarship and her doctoral degree from the University of North Texas. She was a recipient of Teaching Fellowship, UNT scholarship and PI KADDA LAMDA Awards. She received her DMA degree with Honor's. She has studied with JaeHee Hyun, Mrs. Sherman, Wha-Kyung Byun, Dr. Pamela Paul, and Gyogy Sebok.
Dr. Kwon is currently teaching at Seoul National University, Korea National University of Arts, Se-jong University, Kyung-Ki Arts High school and Sun-Wha Arts High school in Seoul, Korea.
Thomas Duis (Germany)
Born in 1958, Thomas Duis started to receive piano lessons at the age of five. His teachers including Kurt Gerecke, Fanny Waterman and Karl-Heinz Kämmerling , were responsible for a unique amount of international prizes .
Being a member of the german Musikrat Foundation, Thomas Duis won several prizes in Int. Piano Competitions all over the world, such as Salt Lake City, Maryland ( both USA), Pretoria (South Africa) , Tel Aviv (Israel), Leeds (UK), Sydney (Australia), Vercelli (Italy), Athens (Greece), Munich and Cologne (Germany).
After winning the Arthur Rubinstein Int. Piano Master Competition in Israel in 1987, and being a major prizewinner at the ARD-Munich Competition , Thomas Duis received invitations from all over the world, he was given a recording contract with Emi-Electrola , later also with Orfeo, Capriccio, MDG; and others, some of which gained international recognition and prestigious awards. Concert engagements and invitations to acclaimed festivals lead him into many countries in Europe. As a musical ambassador of the German Cultural Centre (Goethe-Institute) Thomas Duis toured some African Countries, such as Marocco, Tunesia, Egypt, Algeria, the Middle East, America and Asia and returned to China and South Korea in 2004, 2006 and in 2007 for masterclasses and Concerts.
Also in 2006 , Thomas Duis completed a series of recordings , including the entire Works for violin and piano by G. Enescu.
Concert invitations lead him into musical centres throughout Europe, but also to Chile, North America and Asia.
Apart from appearing with Orchestra , Thomas Duis is committed to Chamber Music and performs with Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet), Gustav Rivinius (Cello), Albrecht Breuninger(Violin), the Mannheim String Quartet a.o. In 2005 and again in 2007, Thomas Duis appeared with Maxim Vengerov.
In 2006, Benjamin Yusupov, russian born Composer, living in Israel , wrote a piano concerto for Thomas Duis, which has just been performed for the first time with Jerusalem Symphony in Israel.
In 1994 Thomas Duis was given a professorship at the University of Music in Graz, Austria, in 1998 he was asked to become a professor at the University of Music in Saarbrücken, Germany and became rector of the faculty in 2004.
Thomas Duis is teaching some of the finest and most promising young pianists from around the world (Italy, China, Hungary, Turkey, Taiwan, Spain, Ireland, Russia, Corea and Germany), who have already won prestigious awards in outstanding Competitions ( ARD-Munich, Sendai - Japan , Italy, Spain, USA).
Luis Sanchez (Argentina)
Argentine pianist, Dr. Luis Sanchez has received wide acclaim for his artistry and insightful performances. He leads an active career as a soloist, clinician, collaborative artist, and adjudicator. His many awards include Fort Wayne Philharmonic Concerto Competition, Competition for Young Pianists of the Jrimian Foundation, Centro de Estudios Pianisticos, M.T.N.A. Indiana State winner, Ball State Concerto Competition, and the Merle Montgomery Doctoral Dissertation Grant.
A recipient of the 2005 Pinellas County Arts Council Artist Resource Fund, Dr. Sanchez has recorded a CD of solo works by Mozart, Ginastera, Chopin, Taranto Jr., and Schumann. Future recording projects include a CD of Spanish and Latin American art songs with soprano, Jennifer Hester-Sanchez, and solo recording featuring piano sonatas by Mozart.
As a soloist, Dr. Sanchez has performed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ball State Symphony Orchestra. He has presented solo recitals in the Midwest, Florida, Argentina, and Uruguay. In 2000, he created the Sanchez-Duo with his wife soprano Jennifer Sanchez. They have performed numerous recitals in the Tampa Bay area. In Argentina, he was featured on two occasions in the Young Pianists Concert Series broadcasted live by National Public Radio. In 2003, he was guest artist at Stetson Universitys Piano Weekend Festival. In 2003 and 2004, he presented master classes and recitals in the Young Pianists Festival at University of Florida. Dr. Sanchez has been an adjudicator of the SAI Piano Competition at the Chautauqua Summer Institution, the FSMTA piano competitions, the Florida Orchestra Young Artist Competition, Federation of Music Clubs, and Hoosier Auditions in Indiana. Moreover, he has collaborated on several occasions with the Tampa Bay Composers Forum, an association that promotes the performance of new music by living American composers.
Dr. Sanchez has presented lectures and teaching demonstrations on a wide array of topics: My first Mozart, an introduction to Mozarts piano music for the elementary and intermediate students; Modest Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition; Lets Tango!, an historical account of the origins of the tango and its influences around the world; Alberto Ginasteras piano music; among other topics. He is frequently invited to present workshops and seminars on piano literature, piano technique, and efficient practice techniques.
In increasing demand as a clinician, Dr. Sanchezs students have been prize winners in numerous competitions: Carmel Scholarship Award, Muncie Symphony Junior Concerto Competition, Florida Community College Symposium, Emeric Lazar Scholarship Competition, among others. In June 2005, he created the Summer Piano Program in Florence, Italy. This program is designed for piano students interested in immersing themselves in the world of musical learning and performance. Its unique curriculum incorporates the study of the visual arts in an intensive schedule of lessons, master classes and concerts.
Dr. Sanchez holds degrees from the National Conservatory of Music Carlos López Buchardo and Ball State University. His teachers include Ana Litovsky-Grunwald, Graciela Beretervide, Robert Palmer, and Rebecca Penneys. A recipient of an Artist Enhancement Grant of the State of Florida, Dr. Sanchez attended fortepiano master classes with Dr. Andrew Willis, at University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and most recently visited Cornell University to study fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson. As a recipient of a 2006-2007 American Scandinavian Foundation, Dr. Sanchez traveled to Norway and Sweden to study fortepiano with Liv Glaser (Norwegian Academy of Music), Torleif Torgersen (Grieg Academy), and Tilman Skowroneck (Goteborg, Sweden). He also presented a recital and master class at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and a recital at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, Norway. After serving in the faculty at St. Petersburg College for several years, Dr. Sanchez was appointed Assistant Professor of Piano at Texas A&M University-Commerce in the Fall 2007. He resides in Rockwall, TX with his wife Jennifer and two children, Nathaniel and Sophia.