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WVU announces winners of keyboard festival

Piano Festival

Six outstanding student pianists from across the country were winners of the Jazz and Classical Piano Competitions during the Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music Piano Festival hosted by the College of Creative Arts and the School of Music at West Virginia University June 2 – 4.

The event explored the many ways jazz and classical music intersect and influence each other other, featuring internationally known pianists Julian Martin and Tay Cher Siang as special guest artists for classical and jazz, respectively.

Students from 10 states and three countries took part in the piano competitions: high school and college students in classical music and a college competition in jazz. They were selected on the basis of performances and letters of recommendation.

Prizes included substantial cash awards.

The winners include:

College Jazz Competition

First Place: Theresa Chen, Eastman School of Music

Second Place: Michael Jones, West Virginia University

Third Place: Philip Nichols, West Virginia University

High School Classical Competition

First Place: Baron Cao, State College Area High School, Pennsylvania

Second Place: Kasey Shao, Walnut Hills High School, Ohio

Third Place: Jimmy Liu, Science Hill High School, Tennessee

Honorable mention: Mary Nerren, Homeschooled through Gateway Christian School, Tennessee 

College Classical Competition 

Second Place: Soojin Kang, Michigan State University

Third Place (Tie): Jocelyn Lee, Indiana University; and Oscar Jiang, The Juilliard School

The judges for the competitions included Christopher Guzman, Penn State University; Julian Martin, The Juilliard School; and Tay Cher Siang, a WVU alumnus who has become an award-winning jazz pianist and recording artist, widely known throughout Southeast Asia.

The competitions and festival were made possible through the Office of the Provost and private donors.

The festival was developed in 2011 by the late Christine Bane Kefferstan, who taught at WVU for 35 years.

“As Dr. Kefferstan said of the festival, it has become an important experience to give us all a sense of how much more there is to explore and understand in the world of music,” said Ching-Wen Hsiao, assistant professor of piano. “We know that Dr. Kefferstan would be thrilled at how this festival has attracted participants from around the country and internationally.”