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MIDSUMMER MELODIES Piano, guitar festivals bring international talent to ECU

The past two weeks at East Carolina University were filled with music as the inaugural East Carolina Piano Festival started on June 23, followed by the 23rd annual ECU Summer International Guitar Festival. The festivals featured ECU faculty, acclaimed guest musicians, public concerts and hands-on instruction for veterans to novices.

Andy Dai practices during the piano festival.

East Carolina Piano Festival

Twenty-eight pianists came together for the first East Carolina Piano Festival held June 23-28. World-class artists, ECU School of Music piano faculty and 21 young pianists from across the United States participated in the event.

"The piano festival participants were immersed in music for the week — working closely with ECU piano faculty and guest artists in lessons and public master classes and attending concerts. At the end of the week, all participants performed in public recitals.”

— Keiko Sekino, founding director of the piano festival

The piano festival featured two main components — a concert series and a Young Artist Program.

The concert series featured world-renowned guest artists and ECU School of Music faculty in a wide range of programs. Here, Hungarian pianist Peter Frankl (left) plays piano with faculty member Kwan Yi.

The Young Artist Program was an intensive training program for students in grades 6-12 and college undergraduates selected through an audition process.

At left, Luke Turner plays in an office space. Above, Kevin Xu practices.
About half of the participants were from North Carolina; others were from South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, West Virginia and New York.
"The piano festival is a wonderful opportunity for the young musicians to meet peers who share a strong interest in music."

—Keiko Sekino

Peter Frankl looks at music prior to a pianist playing it on stage in Fletcher.

Hungarian pianist Peter Frankl and Andrew Tyson (not pictured), winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and numerous international piano competitions, were guest performers.

Classical guitarist Hart Wells works with students.

ECU Summer International Guitar Festival

The ECU Summer International Guitar Festival – a celebration of classical guitar – was held June 30-July 3.

Thirty-nine guitarists participated in the festival – now in its 23rd year.

The only requirement for students to attend the guitar festival is a desire to learn or learn more about classical guitar. The festival’s workshop and camp are open to ages 8 and up.

Here, master class teacher Adam Kossler works with a student during the festival.

Grammy-winner Jason Vieaux, described by NPR as “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation,” headlined the guitar festival.

Additional concerts featured: French virtuoso Judicaël Perroy; Canadian Jeffrey McFadden; American guitarist Andrew Zohn; 2004 ECU solo guitar competition first prize winner Isaac Bustos; 2017 solo competition winner Samuel Hines; Mary Akerman, who teaches classical guitar at Kennesaw State University; and guitar festival director Elliot Frank.

Andrew Zohn works with two students during a master class in Fletcher.
"The festival is four days of teaching, performance and interaction among guitarists from all over, and of all ages and skill levels. We have students who have attended the festival for more than a decade, and who come from as far away as Taiwan."

—Elliot Frank, director of ECU Summer International Guitar Festival

Here, classical guitarist Hart Wells works with students during the guitar festival.
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Kristin Zachary
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Photos by Cliff Hollis Video by Reed Wolfley

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