Seventeen-year-old Katherine Liu's fingers danced across the keys as she competed at the Southeastern Piano Festival. She leaned in closer as the notes came faster and leaned back as the music swelled. When the song is finished, the USC School of Music Recital Hall echoed with her last note.
In addition to Lui's award-winning performance, Columbia had a number of notable live music events this summer. From concerts for charity to an innovative sustainable festival, here is what you missed.
20th anniversary of the Southeastern Piano Festival
Liu, who took home the first place prize, was one of 20 young musicians who came to South Carolina to participate in the Southeastern Piano Festival’s (SEPF) piano competition.
The festival brought together performers from around the state and country in a weeklong June event celebrating the love of piano and classical music for the 20th year in a row.
“You know, I think they feel the energy of the performances,” Joseph Rackers, the co-founder of the festival, said. “It's a very exciting form of music and we find that when people come to concerts, they end up coming back over and over again.”
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Rackers and his wife, and co-founder Marina Lomazov featured 20 SEPF alumni including accomplished pianists Caleb Borick, Solomon Ge and Susan Zhang.
“We've sort of become a family at this point. And it's something that I've done every single summer of my adult life. So, it's so meaningful to be here,” Zhang said. “It's like a reunion every summer.”
ColaJazz Foundation brings concert series to Bourbon Restaurant
The ColaJazz Foundation partnered with the downtown Columbia cocktail bar Bourbon Restaurant to host a free concert series every Thursday from mid-May until the end of June.
ColaJazz is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote jazz in the Midlands through education, concerts and events.
These concerts, titled the "Jack-n-Jazz" series, gave a portion of the proceeds from every Jack Daniel's cocktail purchased at Bourbon during these performances to ColaJazz's outreach program, which plays music for patients at Lexington Medical Center.
The Jack-n-Jazz series featured a variety of jazz artists. Gino Castillo, who performed on June 2, brought Cuban jazz to Columbia with his group — the aptly titled — Gino Castillo Trio.
The Jack-n-Jazz series also featured R&B jazz from Rapp's own Mark Rapp Funktet, New Orleans jazz from the Soda City Brass Band, pop jazz from the Reggie Sullivan Band and more.
SolFest RollFest, Columbia's first bike-powered music festival
Volunteers pedaled stationary bikes to power performances from local and national bands alike as music burst from speakers during Columbia's first sustainably run and environmentally conscious music festival.
SolFest RollFest was a music festival presented by NoMa Warehouse at Earlewood Park in July, and the event's entertainment was fully run by renewable resources with bikes and solar panels.
The festival featured two stages. One, the "roll' stage, was powered by volunteers riding stationary bikes. The bikes were hooked up to a generator and provided the energy to power the performances.
The bike-powered stage came to fruition thanks to Rock the Bike, a company that created the pedal-powered generators, and Illiterate Light, a duo from Virginia that has a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly practices, according to NoMa Warehouse owner Beth Lawson.
While the bikes and solar panels are not powering the whole festival by themselves, any effort helps — especially on such a large scale, according to Mazie Cook, the co-founder and creative director of NoMa Warehouse.
Emphasizing sustainability, the event asked festival-goers to bring their own reusable cups to prevent excess landfill waste. Instead of selling merchandise for the festival, NoMa Warehouse also asked attendees to bring their own shirts to have the event's logo screen printed onto them.
“The more that we can be sustainable and keep (the Earth) happy and healthy, the more we get to all party together," Cook said.