School of Music hosts Piano Institute

Allyson Eighmey

Program welcomes talented musicians

Amid the noise of banging hammers and bulldozers operating outside the soon-to-be Roe Green Center, the graceful sound of piano keys can still be heard within the building’s staircases and hallways.

Eleven aspiring pianists were invited to participate in the fourth annual Piano Institute hosted by the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. The students will be on campus for 11 days of education and inspiration and will converge for a gala concert at the prestigious Severance Hall in Cleveland.

The seventh through 12th-graders were selected after an application process which included submitting audition CDs or DVDs. Students from Ohio, Indiana, New York, California and China were chosen to participate. In the past, students have traveled from Costa Rica and Ecuador for the program. Students pay a fee to participate, but are eligible to receive scholarships. The School of Music has received grants and donations that have made it possible to continue the institute.

“I’m very proud of the curriculum we’ve put together,” said Donna Lee, associate professor of music and coordinator of the School of Music’s piano division. “It’s a very high-level program that will challenge all the students, yet, it’s set in a very caring and nurturing environment.”

Throughout their week-and-a-half on campus, students will attend workshops on technique, sight-reading and competition preparation. The participants will also receive one-on-one lessons and attend master classes taught by guest artists. Classwork and seminars differ from year-to-year in order to expose repeat students to new techniques and lessons.

Lee said she believes the Piano Institute benefits students in ways normal lessons wouldn’t be able to.

“The program provides the opportunity to really study the piano intensively,” Lee said. “Perhaps they wouldn’t be able to during the school year with homework and sports practices.”

When the students aren’t in their workshops or practicing, they will be staying on campus in Beall Hall and are also scheduled to see a production at the Porthouse Theatre and visit the Blossom Music Center.

Along with Lee, the Piano Institute instructors include: Jerry Wong, assistant professor of piano; Joela Jones, guest artist and principal keyboardist for the Cleveland Orchestra; and Chu-fang Huang, international touring artist and Cleveland International Piano Competition winner.

All students will perform at a gala concert at 7 p.m. on July 28 in Cleveland’s Severance Hall. The performance is open to the public. For a complete schedule of the 2009 Piano Institute classes and events, visit the Piano Institute Web Site at

Contact perfoming arts and entertainment reporter Allyson Eighmey at [email protected].