ADVANCING the cause | more with Steve & Connie Lyman

talking about fun times with friends, favorite Indy venues and the impact of the arts with American Pianists Association board chair Steve Lyman and his wife Connie

Steve Lyman, Connie Lyman

[this is second of a two-part article; the first part is here]

Steve Lyman moved to Indianapolis in 1974 after graduating with a law degree from Indiana University. A native of West Lafayette, Indiana, he is in his forty-third year of legal practice. Connie grew up in Franklin, Indiana and came to Indianapolis in 1974 to share an apartment with a sister who had just taken a job in town. “We lived together on the northeast side of Indianapolis right behind the apartment of my future husband. Steve and I met there in 1975 and were married in 1976.”

The longtime Indianapolis residents have introduced many of their friends to the excellence on display and uniqueness of APA’s events in Indy’s cultural scene. Additionally, though their involvement they have gained many new friends. Says Connie, “APA has become a huge part of our social life, and we look forward to seeing staff, host families and other members at various events.”

Steve agrees:

“We have so many new friendships since that first cold call by Joel Harrison back in 2008! Of course, Jeremy Siskind and Sullivan Fortner and their families and each of the other finalists over the years have truly become friends along the way. In addition, the amazing APA supporters, the staff, the board members and other supporters in the community have all become close friends.  We would not have expanded our circle of friends to such an extent without the APA.”

In addition to finding new friends, their introduction to the APA has helped the Lymans establish a number of new favorite venues to frequent. Steve and Connie discuss these venues and more in this clip:

Steve elaborates off camera:

“My favorite venue in Indianapolis is the Hilbert Circle Theater where both the APA’s jazz and classical competitions were last held.  The quality of the setting made that venue truly world class. Certainly for jazz you cannot beat The Jazz Kitchen in Broad Ripple as the perfect venue for any performer whoever they might be.”

Beautiful tear-inducing performances, opportunities to mentor young, world-class American artists, introductions to similarly passionate people and inspiring venues…the APA has provided much in return for the Lymans’ support. According to Connie, “when you see the level of talent and how young these people are and you realize the APA is giving them a giant step forward in their careers, you really want to be a part of if.”

In this final clip, Steve and Connie talk more about the reasons for their support:

Leaving final thoughts for Steve:

“Quite simply, the arts—whether music, dance, theater, opera, painting, sculpture or literature—are truly the lifeblood of a life well-lived. One could say that appreciation of the arts makes an individual whole.  It certainly does for me.

My advice to anyone whether not they are familiar with classical or jazz is to simply go and listen to an APA performance. Once people are introduced, they always return. I would say that all of our friends that we have invited to performances have enthusiastically embraced the quality they have witnessed. Then they become part of the APA family.”

The Lymans went from never having heard of the American Pianists Association to serving as some of our biggest supporters—all stemming from a simple invitation by APA Artistic Director and CEO Joel Harrison. Asking is easy, and as Steve notes, the uniqueness of our organization and beauty of our artists’ performances ensure your guests will have a great time.

Who will you introduce to the APA this spring?

 

 

Announcing the Concerto Curriculum Schools

American Pianists Association names five Indianapolis-area schools to participate in its Concerto Curriculum program.

Each school will host a 2017 American Pianists Awards finalist for a three day residency and performance with student musicians.

Program brings world-class talents to share their knowledge with and serve as inspiration for young musicians; first residency starts September 2016.

The American Pianists Association has named five Indianapolis-area schools to participate in the Concerto Curriculum program as part of the 2017 American Pianists Awards. Congratulations to Broad Ripple Magnet High School, Heritage Christian School, Lawrence Central High School, Lawrence North High School, and Warren Central High School!

Concerto Curriculum is the American Pianists Association’s education and community outreach program. The objectives of the program are to bring the beauty of world-class music to new audiences and non-traditional venues, provide pedagogical growth for our artists, and inspire new generations of young musicians. As part of each American Pianists Awards competition, every finalist completes a residency with an Indianapolis-area high school orchestra or jazz band. Residencies typically span the course of three days and culminate in a joint public performance with the school musicians.

Finalists for the 2017 American Pianists Awards were announced in March. Following are the five schools that will take turns hosting a finalist in the 2016-17 school year:

  • Heritage Christian School will now be known as the home of #TeamKate! Kate Liu, 21, was the Bronze Medal winner at the 2015 International Chopin Competition, and has won prizes in competitions in Montreal, at the Eastman School of Music, at Hilton Head, Oberlin and New York, and at the MTNA. Kate, who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, is currently preparing her Bachelor’s degree at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She begins her residency at Heritage Christian on 9/26/16.
  • Warren Central High School students can now be called #TeamSteven! Steven Lin, 27, was the recipient of Third Prize, as well as the Beethoven and Irish NSO special awards at the 2015 Dublin International Piano Competition. He earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at The Juilliard School and recently completed his curriculum at the Curtis Institute of Music. Steven, who has lived in the Los Angeles area, Taiwan and New York, currently resides in Philadelphia. He begins his residency at Warren Central on 11/7/16.
  • Lawrence North High School is the home of #TeamSam! Sam Hong, 21, has been a Young Steinway Artist since 2010. He has been featured as a guest soloist with the Milwaukee, New York, Fort Worth, Richardson, Waco, Galveston, and Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestras. At the age of 16, Sam graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor’s of Music. Sam was born in Seoul , South Korea and currently lives in Baltimore while continuing his musical education at Johns Hopkins University. He begins his residency at Lawrence North on 12/5/16.
  • Lawrence Central High School has been declared #TeamDrew! Drew Petersen, 22, a prizewinner in the Leeds International Piano Competition, has performed solo and concerto recitals in both Europe and the United States. Drew graduated cum laude from Harvard with bachelor of liberal arts in social science and earned a Diploma in piano performance from Juilliard. Born and raised in Oradell, NJ, Drew continues to call this borough near New York City home. He begins his residency at Lawrence Central on 1/30/17.
  • Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities will serve as the Indianapolis headquarters of #TeamAlex! Alex Beyer, 21, was the recipient of Third Prize, as well as the Beethoven and Irish NSO special awards at the 2015 Dublin International Piano Competition. Alex lives in Fairfield, CT and is currently studying music at the New England Conservatory while also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in math and statistics from Harvard. He begins his residency at Broad Ripple on 2/27/17.

Feedback from prior years of the program has been consistently positive:

  • “The audiences at Herron High School had never experienced a world-class pianist like American Pianists Awards finalist Christian Sands before. More students want to play piano, and they want to listen to Mr. Sands and performers of his caliber.” – John Horgeshimer, Jazz Band Director, Herron High School.
  • “The three days that we spent with Andrew Staupe were nothing short of miraculous! The students were mesmerized! The underlying theme for all of his presentations was: Go after whatever your passion is in life, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve it! How powerful and insightful a message that was for our students to hear!”-Leslie Bartolowits, Orchestra Director, Broad Ripple High School

With this year’s program we hope to make many more great memories!

More information about the finalists and the American Pianists Awards can be found here.

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DISCOVERING world-class pianists | meet Kate Liu | #TeamKate

Kate Liu is late.

The minutes tick by as we wait for her to join us for a video chat to discuss her selection as a finalist for the 2017 American Pianists Awards. She confirmed this time just before midnight last night—perhaps she overslept?

Kate Liu - high resolution headshot

Then a smiling face appears. Apologetically, Kate greets us and explains she had been up late finishing a paper for class and was now fitting us in between practice for an upcoming world tour. No sleeping in for Kate, the life of a 21 year old world-class pianist blends typical college tasks with extraordinary activities.

A window into her exceptional life finds this college student performing in New York and being notified of making the finals:

 

Kate Liu was born in Singapore on May 23, 1994, “back when we were still using CDs—I don’t even know if iTunes and that kind of stuff existed back then!” Her parents “kept a cupboard of CDs” and one of Kate’s earliest memories of music is when her mom introduced her to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons:

“I still remember very, very clearly just putting the CD in and my mom commenting about how much she loved the piece. You know, I was like three years old, and it continues for a very long time. I’m a little ashamed to say I was bored after 5 minutes!”

Undaunted, Kate and her parents continued to explore different kinds of music:

 

As Kate has established her performance career, a consistent theme in critical reviews and competitive results has been her ability to connect with her audiences. This connection was especially apparent during the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015. She had wide popular support from the Polish public during the competition and received the highest number of votes cast by listeners of Polish Radio, winning the contest “My Chopin.”

In this clip, Kate explores why she seems to relate so well with her audience:

 

Apart from the recognition bestowed upon her by the Polish public, Kate has taken great pleasure in playing European venues during competition:

 

Back in America, Kate, who grew up in a town called Winnekta in the suburbs of Chicago, prefers the bustle of the city. She is currently in the fourth year of her bachelor’s diploma program at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Of Philadelphia, she says, “it is a homey kind of city and you feel like it is pretty cozy, but at the same time there are lots of shops and bustling people. It’s somewhere in between NYC and the suburbs which is kind of perfect for me. I really love Philly!”

“If you came to Philly I would probably take you to go eat Philly cheesesteaks because that’s what everybody does. But I wouldn’t know where to go because I haven’t had it myself so we would be going on a journey together! Nobody’s ever asked me to go eat Philly cheesesteaks. It has been four years, maybe I’ll do it in my fifth year.”

Prompted by her success in prior competitions, Kate has a busy performance calendar leading up to her Premiere Series concert in Indianapolis. This week she will be in Taiwan for performances on April 15th and 16th. She is in Poland in May, Singapore and China in July, and Denmark and Poland again in August. In between she will be back in Winnekta, “basically just practicing all day!”

Aside from the American Pianists Awards, she is open to the future: “After my bachelors I’m hoping to go audition for my Master’s degree, complete an Artist’s diploma and maybe a DMA if I choose at that time. I’m not really how sure my career will play out because these things are so unpredictable. I would like to progress with my musical studies as much as I can and see how to go from there.”

Being one of the top young American pianists, Kate has frequently crossed paths with the other finalists. Like the others, she looks forward to the distinctive camaraderie between the finalists that develops over the course of the APA’s unique 13-month-long competition.

 

So we didn’t edit out her challenge (sorry about that, Kate!), but clearly this exceptionally talented college student will get along well with the other finalists. We cannot wait to see her perform in Indianapolis this fall!

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The American Pianists Awards finalists were selected by jury from nominations of the top American classical pianists aged 18-30. Each pianist performs a Premiere Series concert in Indianapolis between September 2016 and February 2017. All five finalists return to Indianapolis for a week of juried performances next spring, culminating in the naming of a winner on April 8, 2017.

Kate Liu’s Premiere Series concert will be Sunday, September 25 at the Indiana History Center. As part of the American Pianists Awards program, Kate will also perform a residency at Heritage Christian School 9/25 – 9/28. Show your support for her on social media by mentioning #AmericanPianistsAwards #TeamKate!

ADVANCING the cause | meet Steve & Connie Lyman

talking about the thrill of competition, a Cole Porter lullaby and a tear-jerking take on the Beatles’ Blackbird with American Pianists Association board chair Steve Lyman and his wife Connie

Sullivan Fortner and Lymans smaller
Steve & Connie Lyman with 2015 American Pianists Awards winner Sullivan Fortner

This story starts with a cold call. The pitch: we saw your home in Indianapolis Monthly magazine and think it would be a perfect place to have a party.

Thank goodness Steve and Connie Lyman kept listening!

 

 

Their first APA concert, hosted at the Lymans’ home, left an indelible impression upon them. That evening, Dan Tepfer, winner of the 2007 American Pianists Awards, played “Blackbird” by the Beatles as a jazz composition. “There was a moment when he played that brought several of us to tears—it was very powerful and moving,” recalls Connie.

Shares Steve, “we were totally blown away by the experience and by the wonderful people associated with the APA. We were invited to more APA events and were eventually asked to host one of the jazz Finalists, Jeremy Siskind for the 2011 jazz competition. That was Jeremy’s second competition, so he knew what he was in for during the competition. We didn’t! “

According to Connie, the couple was a bit apprehensive about their guest, not knowing what to expect and wanting him to have everything needed to perform well in the competition. It turned out to be great:

“The minute we heard him play, any reservations we had were immediately washed away. I remember it was nearly midnight and we were in bed listening to a Cole Porter tune he was practicing downstairs. So soothing, so hypnotic, it was like the best adult lullaby you could ever imagine. The next morning there he sat at our kitchen counter eating Cheerios and playing on his laptop, so relaxed and familiar that I immediately thought of him as one of the family.”

Here, the Lymans share more about hosting Jeremy:

 

 

The Lymans continue to open their home to Jeremy during his frequent return trips to Indianapolis. Further, they expanded their “family” to include another finalist, Sullivan Fortner, who went on to win the 2015 American Pianists Awards. Steve and Connie compare their experiences with each artist:

 

 

Clearly, strong bonds were developed between these young American pianists and their hosts. Says Steve, “being on the stage of the Hilbert Circle Theater as Sullivan’s name was announced was a major life event for me and, of course, for Sullivan.”

Connie agrees:

“It’s a privilege to support such exceptional talent. They are all future Grammy winners, songwriters and Billboard names. To know that we might have been helpful boosting them to that level in their careers is thrilling!

Backing these young musicians through our donations to the APA gives them a huge and genuine leg up toward a successful career nationally and internationally. If you love music, if you love watching exceptional talent and you want to back a sure thing, then by all means, throw your support to the APA.”

Of course not everyone is ready to host an APA event or pianist in their home. In part two of our interview with the Lymans, we discuss some additional social aspects of involvement with the American Pianists Association, great venues for piano performances and additional ways to get involved. Check back soon!

 

BEAUTY of music | “rational people conversing”

APA Artistic Administrator Milner Fuller takes a moment to reflect upon chamber music.

samhong chamber
2017 American Pianists Awards finalist Sam Hong is a dedicated chamber musician.

What is chamber music?

Often in a pianist’s bio, you will see a pianist refer to him or herself as an “avid chamber musician.” So what constitutes chamber music, and what is a chamber orchestra?

Chamber music is generally defined as classical music that is written for an ensemble where each part is performed by one instrument. This contrasts with an orchestra where many players, particularly string players, perform the same part. Several chamber ensembles became standardized in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly the string quartet (2 violins, viola and cello), the piano trio (piano, violin, and cello), piano quartet (piano, violin, viola, and cello), and piano quintet (piano plus string quartet). Composers over the years have written vast repertoire for each of these ensembles, and while nearly every major composer wrote chamber music at some point, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert are particularly known for their catalogs of chamber music.

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2009 American Pianists Awards winner Grace Fong focuses on the music of her group.

For a pianist to be a skilled chamber musician, he or she must be able to interact well with other musicians. Many artistic decisions must be made as a group in chamber music, either in rehearsal or even during a performance. While chamber musicians make most artistic decisions in rehearsal, they also “speak” to each other during performances with visual cues. Goethe, in fact, once described the chamber music as “rational people conversing.” These skills are important for any pianist, which is why chamber music is an important part of the American Pianists Awards. Each Finalist will perform a piano quintet next April with our resident string quartet, the Pacifica Quartet.

If chamber music means each musician plays his or her own part, then what is a chamber orchestra?

This can be a little confusing because a chamber orchestra does not generally play chamber music. A chamber orchestra is just another term for a small orchestra, usually 25-50 musicians, as opposed to a symphony or philharmonic orchestra, which can range from 40-120 musicians. Today’s chamber orchestras are closer to the size of an 18th- or early 19th-century orchestra, and most chamber orchestras specialize in music from this period, though contemporary music is also written for chamber orchestra.

The typical symphony orchestra grew throughout the 19th century for two reasons:

  1. Orchestration became a valued aesthetic in orchestral music and composers sought new instruments to expand the sound palette.
  2. The growing, concert-going middle class led to larger concert halls and a need for a louder orchestra.

The 2017 American Pianists Awards will feature our finalists with both the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (Premiere Series) and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (Finals).

Adam - PSQ IMG_0219
2009 American Pianists Awards winner Adam Golka with Pacifica String Quartet.

 

For more on the beauty of music and to learn about opportunities to experience chamber music live, sign up for our newsletter and follow the conversation on social media using #AmericanPianistsAwards.

GRAND ENCOUNTERS | Eric Lu

The American Pianists Association presents classical pianist Eric Lu at Butler University’s Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, Sunday, March 6, 2016 in a 3:30 PM concert.

Eric Lu photo 2

Tickets are $10 – $40 and are available by calling the American Pianists Association at 317.940.9945 or by visiting http://www.americanpianists.org.

APA: Where did you grow up?

ERIC: I grew up in Bedford MA, about 30 min outside of Boston.

 

APA: Are you from a musical family?

ERIC: I am not from a musical family, both my parents are not musicians, but they definitely are “music lovers”, which in some ways, is even more important, I think. There was always music around the house via recordings, so I really loved it and was exposed to it from early childhood.

 

APA: What age were you when you started to play the piano?

ERIC: I started the piano around the age of 5 1/2.

 

APA: What type of music do you listen to?

ERIC: Almost all classical. Definitely in my spare time.

 

APA: Favorite venue?

ERIC: This is hard to say for sure, but I would say right now probably the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall. The most intense and significant musical experience in my life so far happened there at the Chopin Competition, and it really was a memorable one. The hall is so beautiful, and wonderful acoustics too.

 

APA: How do you deal with the pressure and being on stage?

ERIC: I think that is constantly evolving, and gets better with experience. However, each new time on is like a fresh start, you are just as nervous as the last time.

 

APA: What is an ordinary day like for you?

ERIC: An ordinary day, if I’m not somewhere playing, would be quite simple. I’d probably sleep in(if I don’t have a morning class at school), go to class, practice, spend time with friends, eat, etc..

 

APA: Favorite restaurant?

ERIC: It’s hard to say, don’t really have a specific one right now. Although the best place I have been for food has definitely been Taiwan, with Japan a close second.

 

APA: Favorite TV show?

ERIC: Hard to say, although I do plead guilty to watching almost every episode of “Friends”. That one was definitely a really good one.

 

APA: Favorite season?

ERIC: Summer.

 

APA: Favorite vacation destination?

ERIC: Probably someplace with beautiful landscapes in Europe.

 

APA: Interesting fact about yourself?

ERIC: I really playing poker for fun.

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GRAND ENCOUNTERS | Frederic Chiu

American Pianists Association presents classical pianist Frederic Chiu in a brunch concert at the Columbia Club, located on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Sunday, January 31, 2016.

Columbia Club

11:00 AM || Mimosas in the Grand Lobby

11:45 AM || Brunch in the Crystal Terrace

12:30 PM || Concert by American Pianists Association 1985 Classical Fellow, Frederic Chiu

Frederic Chiu 1.31

TICKETS: 317.940.9945 | http://www.americanpianists.org

APA: Where did you grow up?

FREDERIC: Born in Ithaca NY, but lived in Indianapolis since age 6

FC 2 years old picFrederic Chiu at age 2

APA: What attracted you to the piano/can you play any other instruments?

FREDERIC: My parents had an old player piano, and they started me on lessons at age 6. I also played cello starting age 9, oboe age 11 and French Horn age 12. I stuck with cello for 7 years, and played in Indianapolis All City and All State orchestras, but the piano was my first instrument and I kept with it through all of that.

FC Band uniform picFrederic Chiu in his band uniform

APA: What age were you when you started to play the piano?

FREDERIC: Lessons started at age 6. I didn’t play before that, as we didn’t have a piano before moving to Indianapolis.

APA: How has your life changed since winning APA’s classical competition?

FREDERIC: I won the APA competition very early, in both the APA’s life and my own life! 1985, when I was only 20. I was just starting out as a performer, so the experience that the APA brought me, through the competition itself and the various concerts that came about because of it, were all significant and changed my perspective on what a career meant.

APA: What does it mean to you to be part of the APA family?

FREDERIC: Winning the APA’s classical competition was one of the most important things to happen to me in my career. I’m so happy to see the organization moving forward, constantly breaking new ground and promoting its values, and I’m particularly proud to have been able to contribute to that, as a Fellow, in my role as director of Deeper Performance Studies workshops, as an adviser, as a judge.

IMG_4840American Pianists Association 30th Anniversary Party
(l to r): ’89 Classical Fellow Stephen Prutsman, ’85 Classical Fellow Frederic Chiu, ’95 Classical Fellow J.Y. Song, ’09 Classical Fellow Grace Fong, ’94 Jazz Laureate Reginald Thomas, ’07 & ’11 Jazz Laureate Jeremy Siskind, APA President/CEO & Artistic Director Joel Harrison

APA: Why should someone support the American Pianists Association?

FREDERIC: The APA is unique among the major competitions in how it approaches the idea of competition and career development. Obviously, young pianists need financial support and logistic support, and the APA provides both. And then there is the moral and community support that is priceless.

It is also an inclusive organization that welcomes the involvement of enthusiasts, as audience members, as host families, as sponsors, as volunteers. The APA deserves to receive support from people, but people should support it for their own self-interest of being involved in great music-making and community-building.

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APA: Favorite memory from your APA experiences?

FREDERIC: Monster piano concerts with other Fellows, where we played Czerny arrangements for 8 pianists, and an arrangement of The Blue Danube.

APA: Favorite memory with you host family?

FREDERIC: When I was in the competition, I was “local”, so my host family was my own family! However, I’ve since met a number of host families and had the great pleasure of staying with them while judging and performing. My family has moved away from Indianapolis, so now I only have a few friends from that long-ago period. But there are always new friends that I meet every time I come to Indianapolis.

APA: Interesting fact about yourself?

FREDERIC: I received a BS in Computer Science at Indiana University, but in fact, I was already playing around with an IBM mainframe at Indiana Central College (aka Indiana Central University, aka Indianapolis University) when I was pre-teen, accompanying my father who was a professor there, in Math, Physics and Computer Science. He would grade papers and I would punch cards and create graphic images with the printer through computer formulas.
I was also the fastest typist in my typing class in 8th grade. I was always comfortable with keyboards, I guess!

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