Piano Institute 2015

On Sunday, October 25th, the Department of Music hosted a full day of piano recitals, lectures, masterclasses, lessons, and discussion featuring a noon concert recital on period instruments by exciting up-and-coming fortepianist David Hyun-su Kim, Turkish-born Schumann-and-Brahms specialist, Sezi Seskir of Bucknell University, and Andrew Willis of UNCG School of Music, Theatre and Dance, an eminent historian of the piano and leading authority of historical performance. Their joint noon concert on Sunday included Schumann’s piano cycle Carnaval, Chopin’s C-sharp-minor Prelude, op. 45, Brahms’s op. 116 Fantasien, op. 116 (1892), and Beethoven’s Fantasia, op. 77.

The visit of such artists represents a unique educational opportunity for the talented undergraduates of the music department’s piano program. More and more, we see that gifted young pianists choose to become double majors at Berkeley. This is the fourth year that the Piano Institute has taken place in Hertz and Morrison Halls. Faculty pianists Nicholas Mathew and James Davies organized the popular event.

The Piano Institute began four years ago when Suzanne Macahilig (alumna of the department, authority on Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and student of Seymour Lipkin) approached the music department to ask if we would be prepared to host a piano-related long weekend, for which she would do the hard work of fundraising and organization for her fledgling non-profit. The department jumped at the opportunity, because the profile of the keyboard had already been boosted by the recent appointment of pianist-professors Nicholas Mathew and James Q. Davies to the music faculty, to join Professor Davitt Moroney, who had for many years run a vibrant keyboards program for music majors. The Piano Institute seemed a perfect opportunity to expand these efforts still further, and integrate into the department’s more general strategy to expand the profile of piano-playing for our students and build a piano-playing community at Berkeley. Added to this, the event seemed to chime with renewed pedagogical efforts to engage active learning models on campus by combining the best of scholarship with the best of performance. These emerging priorities are reflected in a series of proposed curricula changes that are due to be implemented in the music department in the very near future.

We want to be sure that our recently revised undergraduate curriculum provides enough opportunities for our talented undergraduates; collaborating closely with dynamic new arrivals at Berkeley, such as Cal Performances artists, and enlisting the help of friends of the piano in the Bay Area and beyond.

Due to generosity of our donors, all events at The Piano Institute 2015 are FREE and open to the public.