USC’s School of Music hosted the Southeastern Piano Festival, from June 12 to 18, which showcased the talents of select young students and highly distinguished artists, and honored a South Carolina teenager as the first-place winner of its international competition. The week-long event began in 2003 as a summer camp for students in grades eight through 12. Eight years later, the festival has become an internationally renowned event bringing in guest artists and highly renowned instructors from all over. The focus has remained on educating and exhibiting young talent with daily lessons given by USC and guest piano faculty. The day ends with a performance by one of the students, a faculty member or a guest artist. An international piano competition was held at the end of the festival. Zachary Hughes, of Traveler’s Rest, S.C., was the first-place winner of the Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition held Saturday. He was awarded a prize of $3,000 and the opportunity to perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic. Hughes is a home-schooled high school senior who has studied piano for nine years. Second- and third-place awards were attained by Vanessa Meiling Haynes, an eighth grader from Ohio, and Bolton Ellenberg, a senior from Florida. They will also have the opportunity to perform with the Philharmonic and the South Carolina Youth Orchestra. Some distinguished guests at this year’s event included Dmitri Levkovich, first-place winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and Nelita True, professor of piano at Eastman School of Music. True was a guest lecturer for the Marian Stanley Tucker Lecture Series, which serves as an outreach program for professional piano teachers and connoisseurs. Tucker has taught piano for 57 years and contributed greatly to the life of music in Columbia. The Marian Stanley Tucker Fund was created in her honor in 2004, and it has given the festival the ability to provide free educational workshops with the elite of pianists. “Each year I try to highlight a different aspect of piano or piano history,” said Marina Lomazov, founder and artistic director of the festival. “One year in 2005, we dedicated to Vladimir Horowitz and actually had his piano flown in from New York for participants to play on.” The highlights of this year’s festival were the piano duos featuring Anderson/Roe Piano Duo of the Julliard School and Angela Cheng and Alvin Chow Piano Duo of Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Lomazov, along with her husband, makes up the Lomazov/Rackers duo who, in 2005, won second prize in the Sixth Biennial Ellis Competition. “While a piano duo is hardly a new concept, piano duo teams have blossomed over the last decade,” Lomazov said.Lomazov was appointed the assistant piano professor at the School of Music in 2003 and has brought a strong history in piano. Ukrainian-American, she studied at the Kiev Conservatory and became the first-prize winner of the all-Kiev Piano Competition. She holds degrees from the Julliard School and Eastman School of Music, where she was awarded the Artist’s Certificate, an award that had not been bestowed upon anyone for nearly 20 years. Lomazov has performed in many places in the United States, South America, England, France and Germany, just to name a few. “The Southeastern Piano Festival has traditionally fostered new and unusual programming alongside the traditional core of the piano repertoire and has encouraged the same adventurous spirit in its participants,” said Lomazov. The event is held every year in the month of June.