The 2021 International Piano Festival and Competition to Begin Thursday

Events, Music, News

The Lee University School of Music will present its 16th annual International Piano Festival, taking place Thursday, May 27- Sunday, May 30. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Festival will be conducted virtually.

The event began in 2005 as a competition for high school students and was expanded in 2011 to include opportunities for participants to study with internationally-acclaimed artists. This year, the Festival celebrates another milestone as Dr. Jonathan Jung, coordinator of piano study at Lee, assumes the role of director, ending the 15-year tenure of Dr. Phillip Thomas, who helped found the event.

“It has been my pleasure to hear the talented young pianists and stellar professionals that we were able to bring to our community during the past 15 years of this festival,” said Thomas. “I am confident that it will continue to flourish under Dr. Jung’s capable leadership.”

Jung has invited highly-praised performers Christopher Harding and Thomas Lanners as guest artists for this year’s Festival. Lee faculty Dr. ChoEun Lee and Thomas will present informative sessions for participants.

To kick off the Festival week, the public will get a chance to watch faculty and guest artists in recital. Jung will present a recital on Thursday evening, May 27; Harding will perform on Friday evening, May 28; and Lanners will perform on Saturday, May 29. Each recital will take place at 6:30 p.m. and will be pre-recorded and livestreamed.

Pianist Harding has given frequent solo, concerto, and chamber music performances in venues around the world. He has presented master classes and lecture recitals in universities across the United States and Asia, as well as in Israel and Canada. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate piano performance and chamber music at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Harding also serves on the faculty of the Indiana University Summer Piano Academy and is a frequent guest artist and teacher at the MasterWorks Festival in Winona Lake, Indiana.

Lanners has appeared as a solo and collaborative pianist and clinician throughout the U.S. and abroad, presenting his New York solo debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2004. Lanners has performed, presented master classes, and given lectures on various musical topics as a guest artist throughout Asia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S. He is an active writer on musical topics, with several feature articles having been published in American Music Teacher, and his performances have been broadcast nationally and internationally.

Jung joined the faculty of Lee’s School of Music as an assistant professor of piano in the fall of 2017. He has performed with the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra and Korean Philharmonic Orchestra of New Zealand. As a composer, Jung’s original pieces have been featured in Brevard Music Center, Carnegie Hall, and Hatch Recital Hall. He has received awards in the Christchurch National Piano Concerto Competition, Eastman Concerto Competition, and Kapiti Coast National Piano Competition.

Lee joined the Lee University School of Music faculty in 2017 as an assistant professor of collaborative piano and vocal coaching. She has extensive collaborative experiences in vocal and chamber music repertoires and has given numerous performances in Australia, Austria, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, and the U.S., and in major venues including Carnegie Hall in New York City, Harris Concert Hall in Aspen Music Festival, and Ozawa Hall in Tanglewood Music Center. Lee has been named a recipient of the Grace B. Jackson Prize.

Thomas, distinguished professor of music and associate dean of Lee’s School of Music, joined Lee’s faculty in 1977. Thomas had a long tenure as keyboardist for the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, appearing with them as harpsichord soloist on two occasions. He has studied piano, music history, and harpsichord at some of the world’s finest institutions and has also served as adjudicator for a variety of competitions on the local, regional, and international levels.

Mini-masterclasses, piano lessons, and roundtable discussions will be held virtually for participating students throughout the week. Participants will compete for cash awards totaling $7,000, as well as scholarships for undergraduate and graduate studies at Lee University. Competition winners will be announced at the conclusion of the Festival on Sunday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m.

All concerts will be livestreamed to the public for free. Links for livestream viewing will be available closer to the recital dates.

For more information on the Lee University International Piano Festival, call (423) 614-8594, visit, or email [email protected].

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