2013 Piano Extravaganza! Festival Runs April 5-7

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 22, 2013 – The 2013 Piano Extravaganza! Festival opens at the University of Rhode Island on Friday, April 5, with a concert by two rising stars of the international music scene, the festival’s featured guest, pianist Shuann Chai, with award-winning violinist Shunske Sato. The concert, first of two in the festival, will be held at 8 p.m. in the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall at 105 Upper College Rd., Kingston, as will the additional concert on Saturday, April 6. Admission to each concert is $10 general public, $5 students.

The Saturday concert, also at 8 p.m., will feature Chai performing with Manabu Takasawa, URI’s piano program director and the festival’s coordinator, plus more from Takasawa and pianists chosen by audition from the students in the URI piano program, playing a variety of solo and piano ensemble music. Student performers are expected to include: Alexander Breault, music education major, West Warwick; Alexander Gorelick, music performance major, Jamestown; Alyssa Dagenais, music education major, Douglas, MA; Ian Otenti, music major, Providence; Katherine Williams, music education major, Coventry; Jonathan Audette, music performance major, Lincoln; Tyler Sowers, music education major, Coventry; and Amanda Betchy, music education major, Foster.

The Piano Extravaganza! Festival also includes separate daytime adult and young pianist competitions that attract some of the best pianists in the Northeast and are open to the public for free. Concert-style performances will be held Saturday afternoon 1-5 p.m. for the Adult Amateur piano competition (pianists aged 18 and older), and on Sunday afternoon, April 7, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for the Young Pianists competition (pianists aged up to 18, in three sub-divisions). A recital concert by top-rated performers from the competitions will be offered later in the spring at a date and location to be announced, sponsored by the Jamestown Piano Association.

Shuann Chai has been acclaimed for her interpretations and recording of Beethoven’s works and her program for Friday’s concert includes the composer’s famous “Moonlight” and “Appassionata” sonatas. In addition, she and Shunske Sato will perform Schubert’s Grand Duo Sonata in A major for Piano and Violin, op. 162, Romanian dances by Bartok and variations on a theme by C. Czerny. Both artists share a passion for historical as well as modern instrumentation, and both have performed all over the world on modern and period instruments–Chai in the Netherlands, China, France, Hong Kong, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada , and the U.S.; Sato in Japan, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Russia, and the U.S.

Shuann Chai completed degrees in both Piano Performance and Biology at Oberlin College and earned Master’s degrees from the New England Conservatory in Boston and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (NL). In 2010 she received a full scholarship at the Banff Centre (Canada), where she was one of eight pianists from around the world selected to take part in an exclusive Beethoven Seminar and Master Class with Anton Kuerti. She was invited back to the Centre as an Artist-in-Residence in 2012. Last year she also received an appointment at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where she is now a Visiting Lecturer in early keyboards and pianos. Upcoming projects reflect her wide-ranging interests: a tour of 8 performances this spring will feature the music of John Cage in collaboration with modern dancers, while part of her 2013-14 season will be dedicated to performing the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven.

Japanese native Shunske Sato has lived and studied in the U.S. (including a stint at Juilliard), Paris and Munich. He made his American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 10. In addition to his extensive concert experience, he has a wide-ranging discography including several recordings for solo violin. As a baroque violinist, Sato serves as concertmaster of both Concerto Köln and the Netherlands Bach Society. Among other awards he has received the Idemitsu Award (a distinction awarded to prominent, internationally active Japanese musicians) and the S & R Washington Award.

The URI Concert Hall is handicap-accessible, and parking is available in the lot behind the Fine Arts Center, off Bills Road. For more information, please contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431, or check the website: www.uri.edu/music.