Denison University International Piano Competition
We are excited to launch the inaugural Denison University International Piano Competition, open to high school students currently in grades 9 – 11. Competition rounds, master classes, recitals, and other events will be held in the Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts on Denison University's campus in Granville, Ohio (25 miles east of Columbus). Participants will perform for an international jury in the beautiful Sharon Martin Hall, and will have the opportunity to join master classes with acclaimed guest artists and Denison piano faculty members.
Open to classically-trained pianists (any nationality) currently attending high school grades 9–11. Current seniors are NOT eligible.
Application deadline: November 15, 2023
Notification of acceptance will be made by December 15, 2023
Participants should prepare 20-25 minutes of program. (Applicants must upload a video of 10–15 minutes of their playing to the SlideRoom application portal. Prescreening repertoire may be different from the competition program.)
The program should include selections from at least two of the following style periods:
- 20th/21st century
Performance of works by BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) composers is encouraged.
With the exception of 20th/21st century repertoire, all works must be memorized.
First Prize: $3,000
Second Prize: $2,000
Third Prize: $500
Special Award for best performance of music by a BIPoC composer: $500
Semi-Final & Final Round Judges
San Sung Aum
Dr. San Sung Aum, a native of Seoul, South Korea, is a distinguished concert pianist, chamber musician, and dedicated educator. Embarking on her formal piano journey at the age of 12, she made an illustrious debut with the youth Royal symphony Orchestra in Korea.
She has appeared in venues such as Weill recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, the Chamber Hall at Sejong Art Center, and the Grand Theater at Seogwipo Art Center as well as in Europe, including Italy and Germany. She has won numerous competitions such as American Protégé international Piano Competition in New York, international Florestano Rossomandi Piano Competition in Italy, the United States International Duo Piano Competition in Colorado, OHIO International Piano Duo Competition, Korea-Germany Brahms Association Music Competition, and CBS broadcast Competition.
Dr. Aum obtained her BM from Seoul National University, an MM from Eastman School of Music, and a DMA in Piano Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, with minors in chamber music and piano pedagogy. She currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Denison University.
Polina Bespalko began her performance career at the age of 8, appearing regularly in the most prestigious venues in Russia – including performances in Bolshoi Hall and for the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II at the age of 13. Her career continued at the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory, where she was invited by the Minister of Culture to perform at every major cultural center in the region.
Bespalko made her American debut in 1998 as a member of the Russian-US Cultural Music Exchange. This launched a period of intense U.S. concertizing, with performances as varied as Cincinnati’s Matinee Musicale, concerts at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., to two performances at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
In the U.S., Bespalko earned Master’s and Doctoral degrees at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She won the CCM Concerto Competition, performing Rachmaninov’s 3rd Concerto with the CCM Philharmonia under Mark Gibson. She has also been a prize-winner in the Wideman International Piano Competition, the World Piano Competition, and the Rachmaninov Concerto Competition. Bespalko currently serves on the piano faculty of Xavier University in Cincinnati, where she serves as the Director of the Xavier University Music Series.
Renowned as a soloist and collaborative pianist, Dr. Hana Chu has performed on international stages across North America, South America, the Middle East, and Korea, collaborating with esteemed artists. Her artistic versatility is showcased in her extensive work as a chamber musician, making her a sought-after collaborator. Committed to nurturing talent, Dr. Chu performed concerts in Jordan in 2015 and 2017, aiding the development of the country’s first generation of classical musicians. In 2017, she also performed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of a cultural exchange. A passionate advocate for contemporary music, Dr. Chu debuted “Blue Pacific” by composer Michael Torke and released a single album under Ecstatic Records, featured on U.S. classical radio stations. At Juilliard, she performed with the New Juilliard Ensemble and premiered works by her contemporaries.
Born in South Korea, Dr. Chu studied at the Juilliard School under Matti Raekallio and Jerome Lowenthal, and received tutelage from Nelita True and Jean Barr at the Eastman School of Music. She serves on the piano faculty at Denison University and has taught at Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, and Kent State University.
Ohio State University
Caroline Hong is Professor and Area Head of Piano at Ohio State University and the director of the Franz Liszt International Piano Festival and Competition. She received her training from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins, the Juilliard School, and Indiana University. She has served on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Piano Festival, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Summer Piano Academy, the Vianden International Festival and School (Luxembourg), the Pianale International Piano Academy and Competition (Fulda, Germany), and elsewhere. She has served as a juror for many piano competitions, including the Aarhus International Piano Competition (Denmark), Los Angeles International Liszt Piano Competition, and the Bartok-Kabalevsky International Piano Competition (U.S.). She has appeared as soloist with the Utah, Columbus, West Texas, and Richmond Symphonies, the Indiana University Philharmonic, and teh Chicago Civic Orchestra among others. A Steinway Artist, she won the Steinway Top Teacher award for 2022–2023.
Brianna Matzke, NCTM, serves as an Associate Professor of Music at Wilmington College. A lauded performer and advocate for living composers, she has commissioned dozens of new works for piano and appeared in concert across the globe. Dr. Matzke is President/CEO of the International Foundation for Contemporary Music, Executive Director of the Cortona Sessions for New Music, and Artistic Director for the concert:nova ensemble. She holds degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Sun Min Kim, Artistic Director
South Korean-born American pianist Sun Min Kim is the Coordinator of Keyboard Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Denison University. He made his début with the Ulsan Symphony Orchestra at age 13, performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto. He has been a prizewinner at national and international competitions, including the Maria Canals International Piano Competition, the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, the International Crescendo Music Awards, Brevard Music Center Solo Piano Competition, the Competition of the Society for American Musicians, and the Lee Biennial Piano Competition.
In 2008, the professional music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon awarded Kim the Sterling Achievement Award, the highest honor that the fraternity bestows upon its collegiate members. He has debuted at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and other prestigious venues across the United States and abroad. Sun Min Kim completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Nelita True and Thomas Schumacher. Additionally, he studied with chamber music and accompanying with Jean Barr.
Central State University
Nanyi Qiang has established a wide-ranging career as a chamber musician, soloist, and pedagogue. He is in demand as a concert artist in solo & chamber recitals and new music concerts. In 2021, his album “DUO SHU” was released by Blue Griffin. Qiang has appeared in venues including Carnegie Hall, Stanford University, and the San Francisco New Music Center. An alumnus of the Music Academy of the West with a DMA from the University of Minnesota, Qiang is on the piano faculty of Central State University. He is the current president of the Ohio Music Teachers Association Western District.
Logan Skelton, Guest Artist
University of Michigan
Logan Skelton is a much sought-after pianist, teacher and composer whose work has received international critical acclaim. Skelton has concertized widely in the United States, Europe and Asia and has been featured on many public radio and television programs as well as on radio in China and national television in Romania. He has recorded numerous discs for Centaur, Albany, Crystal, Blue Griffin, Equilibrium, Supertrain, and Naxos Records. He has been a juror for many international piano competitions. Skelton regularly appears at festivals such as Gina Bachauer, Amalfi Coast, Gijón, Eastman, Tunghai, Chautauqua Institution, American Romanian, Eastern, New Orleans, Poland International, Indiana University, Hilton Head Island, and the Prague International Piano Masterclasses.
Reception for early arrivals
Panel discussion on “Designing your college music experience”
Piano master class with Sun Min Kim and Hana Chu
Guest artist recital
Master class with Logan Skelton
Application deadline: November 15, 2023
Click on the box below to access the SlideRoom application portal and detailed application requirements. Please contact Sun Min Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request an application fee waiver.
Location & Venue
Denison University, Granville, OH
The state-of-the-art Michael D. Eisner Center for the Performing Arts is home to Denison University's departments of dance, music, and theatre.
Click here for a campus map, directions, and list of local accommodations Discounted rooms will available at the Cherry Valley Lodge.