While the lineups for most summer music festivals consist of pop stars and DJs, USC’s Southeastern Piano Festival is taking a more classical approach.
From June 17-23, USC’s School of Music will host its 16th annual Southeastern Piano Festival. Each year, the festival invites musicians and concert goers from far and wide to congregate and celebrate their mutual love of the piano for one week.
USC professor of piano Marina Lomazov co-founded the festival with her husband and fellow professor of piano Dr. Joseph Rackers 16 years ago. Their aim is to bring world-class talent to the local level. Currently, they serve together as the festival’s artistic directors.
For years, the festival has drawn sold-out crowds and a wide range of guest pianists such as Anderson and Roe, Petronel Malan and former festival alumni. Lomazov believes that over time the festival has cemented itself as a “cultural destination for many music aficionados who make a pilgrimage to Columbia every year.”
Each day, the festival's program is packed with events that begin early in morning and carry on into the evenings. In addition to concerts, the festival features a variety of activities, with Lomazov promising that there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
“Be it our signature opening concert Piano Extravaganza, evening concerts by world-renown pianists, open lessons with rising stars, masterclasses with guest master teachers or Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, the festival offers something to everyone who loves music and piano,” Lomazov said.
This year, Lomazov wants to take concert goers through the creative process of their guest artists and says that the opening concert, Piano Extravaganza, will bring a lot of surprises.
While the festival has proved to be a huge success, Lomazov still finds the biggest challenge in adapting to the public’s evolving musical tastes. Even so, she doesn’t let that prevent her from experimenting with the program and taking risks. Some of this year’s guest artists include pianists such as Charlie Albright and Lera Auerbach and returning festival alumni Hugo Kitano and Aleksandra Kasman.
Although this year’s Southeastern Piano Festival is right around the corner, Lomazov and Rackers are currently in preparation for the festival that will take place in 2020, as the team tends to prepare two or three years in advance to accommodate their special guests.
“The guest artists we invite are in high demand around the globe, and we need to engage them far in advance for their schedule to work with ours,” Lomazov said.
For Lomazov, the joy she finds in planning the festival includes using music as a force to bring people together, because “in the words of Hans Christian Anderson (sic), 'when words fail, music speaks.'”
“We hope that people leave the concerts feeling uplifted and inspired. Our concerts and events are very welcoming, and we embrace new audiences,” Lomazov said. "We would love to welcome everyone to become part of the Southeastern Piano Festival 'family'!"