• Lee University

    Piano Festival

  • Guest Artists

    Jerome Lowenthal

    Piano faculty member at the Julliard School since 1991; prizewinner at Queen Elisabeth and Busoni competitions.

    Jerome Lowenthal continues to fascinate audiences, who find in his playing a youthful intensity and an eloquence born of life-experience. He is a virtuoso of the fingers and the emotions.

    Lowenthal studied in his native Philadelphia with Olga Samaroff-Stokowski, in New York with William Kapell and Edward Steuermann, and in Paris with Alfred Cortot, meanwhile traveling annually to Los Angeles for coaching with Arthur Rubinstein. After winning prizes in three international competitions (Bolzano, Darmstadt, and Brussels), he moved to Jerusalem where, for three years, he played, taught and lectured.

    Returning to America, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic playing Bartok’s Concerto No. 2 in 1963. Since then, he has performed more-or-less everywhere, from the Aleutians to Zagreb. Conductors with whom he has appeared as soloist include Barenboim, Ozawa, Tilson Thomas, and Slatkin, as well as such giants of the past as Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy and Leopold Stokowski. He has recently recorded the Beethoven Fourth Concerto with cadenzas by eleven different composers. His other recordings include concerti by Tchaikovsky and Liszt, solo works by Sinding and Bartok, and chamber-music by Arensky and Taneyev.

    Teaching, too, is an important part of Lowenthal’s musical life. For twenty-two years at the Juilliard School and over 40 summers at the Music Academy of the West, he has worked with an extraordinary number of gifted pianists, whom he encourages to understand the music they play in a wide aesthetic and cultural perspective and to project it with the freedom which that perspective allows.


    Ursula Oppens

    A three-time Grammy nominee, Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

    Ursula Oppens studied piano with her mother, the late Edith Oppens, as well as with Leonard Shure and Guido Agosti. She received her master’s degree at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Felix Galimir and Rosina Lhévinne. After 14 years as the John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University, Ms. Oppens is now a Distinguished Professor on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

    A co-founder of Speculum Musicae, Ms. Oppens has an extensive recording catalogue and has received three Grammy nominations: for Oppens plays Carter; for her Vanguard recording of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated; and for American Piano Music of Our Time, a classic compilation of piano works by 20th century American composers for the Music & Arts label. Her most recent release is Winging It: Music of John Corigliano on Cedille Records, which has already received great critical acclaim.

    Driven by an enduring commitment to integrating new music into regular concert life, Ms. Oppens has commissioned and premiered many compositions, including works by Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, Anthony Davis, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Singleton, Joan Tower, Lois V Vierk, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen.  

    Minsoo Sohn

    Assistant professor of piano at the Michigan State University College of Music; prize winner at Busoni, Rubinstein, Hilton Head, and Cleveland Piano Competitions.

    Minsoo Sohn began piano studies at age three. He moved to Boston to study with Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun at New England Conservatory where he recieved his artist diploma in 2004. Sohn has been described by the Boston Globe as an artist, a man who will create a life in music, find listeners, and reward them.

    Sohn has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Israel at important venues including Weill Recital Hall and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with leading conductors such as Gilbert Varga, Keith Lockhart, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jane Glover, Yoav Talmi, Goerges Octors, Jahja Ling, David Hoose, Roy Goodman, Andrew Grams, Avner Biron and has performed with orchestras including Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Calgary Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Israel Philharmonic, Jerusalem Camerata, Holland Symfonia, National Orchestra of Belgium, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Symphony, and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestras, among others.

    An avid chamber musician, Sohn has performed with Aviv Quartet, Cecilia Quartet and Ysaÿe Quartet and Israel Camerata Woodwind Quintet. In January 2010, he collaborated with Mark Morris Dance Group alongside pianist Russell Sherman and the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music in the Boston premiere of Mozart Dances.

    In 2006, Sohn became the First Laureate of the Honens International Piano Competition. Prior to that, he was top prize winner of international competitions such as the Busoni, Cleveland, Hilton Head, Rubinstein, and Laureate of Santander and Queen Elizabeth competitions.  

    Faculty Artists


    Ning An

    Top Prize winner: Kapell, Queen Elizabeth,
    and Santander Competitions;
    international soloist and teacher

    Pianist Ning An, is a rare pianist who has been hailed as a musician who “combines a flawless technique and mastery of the instrument with an expressive power that is fueled by profound and insightful understanding.” (New York Concert Review) His top prizes from the Queen Elizabeth, Cleveland, and William Kapell Piano Competitions led to performances from Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Salle Verdi (Milan), to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. He has been invited to perform at numerous festivals, including the International Chopin Festival in Duszinski, Poland, the Gina Bachauer Piano Festival in Salt Lake City, New Hampshire's Monadnock Music Festival, the Bourglinster Festival in Luxembourg, and the Interlaken Music Festival in Switzerland. A passionate chamber musician as well as soloist, Mr. An has performed with groups such as the Ysaye, Daedalus, and Takacs Quartets as well as instrumentalists James Buswell, Paul Neubauer, Andres Diaz and Soovin Kim.

    Since making his orchestral debut at the age of 16 with the Cleveland Orchestra, Mr. An has been a featured soloist with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, the Stuttgart Philarmonic, Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, the Belgian National Symphony, the Flemish Radio Symphony, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra under the batons of conductors such as Vladimir Fedosseyev, Jorg-Peter Weigle, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, etc. Mr. An was also a featured soloist during the 100th Anniversary American Tour made by the Warsaw Philharmonic and Maestro Kazmierz Kord.

    Ning An has also been a top prize winner of the Paloma O’Shea Santander Competition, the Tivoli International Piano Competition, the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition and the Alfred Cortot Prize winner of the International Chopin Piano Comeptition.

    Mr. An began his musical studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Olga Radosavljevich and Sergei Babayan. Subsquently, Mr. An continued his studies under the tutelage of Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music.
    A frequent guest lecturer himself, Mr. An has given masterclasses throughout the United States and Asia. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Piano at Lee University, Tennessee. He is a Steinway Artist.  


    Gloria Chien

    Prize winner: World Piano and
    San Antonio Competitions;
    collaborative pianist,
    Chameleon Arts Boston, Music @ Menlo

    Pianist Gloria Chien has been praised by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe for "a wondrously rich palette of colors, which she mixes with dashing bravado and with an uncanny precision of calibration…Chien's performance had it all, and it was fabulous."

    Dr. Chien has presented solo recitals at the Gardner Museum, Harvard Musical Association, the Monadnock Music Festival in New Hampshire, the Caramoor Festival in New York State, and the National Concert Hall in Taiwan. She has appeared as a featured soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall under the baton of Maestro Keith Lockhart and Thomas Dausgaard. In addition, she has been soloist with the New England Conservatory Honors Orchestra under Maestro Sergiu Comissiona, and the NEC Youth Philharmonic conducted by Benjamin Zander. Dr. Chien was invited to travel with the Massachusetts delegation and former Governor William Weld to perform several concerts in Chile. Dr. Chien has attended the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland in 1999, as well as the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA in 2001.

    In 1994, Dr. Chien won first prize in the Harry Dubbs Memorial Competition, the Harvard Musical Association Achievement Award, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School Concerto Competition, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition. In 1995, she placed second in the Fite Family National Piano Competition, as well as in the Oberlin International Piano Competition. She was the winner of the New England Conservatory Piano Department Concerto Competition in 1998, and has recently placed fifth at the 2000 World Piano Competition in Cincinnati. She was the third prize winner of the 2000 San Antonio International Piano Competition where she also received the prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work.

    Gloria Chien began playing the piano at the age of five in her native Taiwan, where she won both divisions of the National Piano Competition before coming to the United States when she was fourteen. She has completed a masters degree and an undergraduate degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and recently earned her Doctoral of Musical Arts Degree. Her private teachers have included Russell Sherman and Wha-Kyung Byun.

    Dr. Chien is currently a member of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston and an assistant professor at the Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. Her recording of music for violin and piano by Grazyna Bacewicz with fellow Chameleon Joanna Kurkowicz was recently released on Chandos.

    Competition Chair


    Phillip Thomas


    An alumnus of Lee’s music program, Phillip Thomas returned to his alma mater as a keyboard instructor in 1977. Since then, he has filled a number of roles, including classroom and studio teacher, accompanist, ensemble director, and administrator.

    Currently, his teaching responsibilities include Music History, Performance Practice and Piano. Thomas also chairs the Department of Instrumental Music and serves on a number of University committees. For the past two years, he has led the Steering Committee of Lee’s Piano Festival and Competition since its inception.

    Thomas has served as adjudicator for a variety of competitions on the local, regional, and international levels. His students often receive the highest ratings; some have won their respective divisions. Thomas is listed in Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

    A year after graduating summa cum laude from Lee, Thomas completed the master’s degree in piano from the Peabody Conservatory. He later completed the Ph.D. degree in Music History from the University of Cincinnati, where he was the recipient of a full-tuition scholarship and an assistantship in Music Theory. His dissertation was entitled Music for One or More Alternately Tuned Acoustic Pianos, 1920-1993: Trends in Melody, Harmony, and Technique.

    In 1996, Thomas founded the University’s Orchestra, after serving as founding conductor of a community string orchestra for several years. He studied conducting at the Institute Provençe-Aubagne in France with Yves Cohen, a student of Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa.

    Off campus, he has served as board member for the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and Chattanooga Youth Symphony. In the 1980s, he was keyboardist for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and has appeared with them on numerous occasions since. Thomas has also served as reviewer for several college textbooks, including the second edition of Douglass Seaton’s Ideas and Styles in the Western Musical Tradition, published by McGraw-Hill. For the past several years, he has been staff pianist for the Mount Paran North Church of God just outside Atlanta, GA.