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Enroll in the Festival for Creative Pianists Today!

 
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MISSION STATEMENT

The Festival for Creative Pianists is a nonprofit arts education organization dedicated to celebrating the joy of creating music at the piano by developing unique learning opportunities and supporting the work of 21st Century creative pianists.

VIRTUAL FESTIVAL

Our flagship program is an international virtual festival for pianists of all ages and skill levels. This unique festival celebrates creative skill building and creative thinking through workshops, creative challenges, individualized feedback on creative work, and more. Learn more and enroll!

ABUNDANT SILENCE

We publish sheet music and recordings by 21st Century musical artists and composers under the publishing imprint, Abundant Silence. Sheet music is available for pianists from early intermediate through advanced levels. Collections include Solo Piano, Collaborative Piano, Art Song, and Experimental Piano. Many of the festival teaching artists also have works published with Abundant Silence. Shop sheet music today!

PIANO EDUCATOR COMMUNITY

We are also building a network of piano educators who are dedicated to teaching creative skills and creative thinking at the piano. This community of educators has access to a special membership only online platform that includes articles, tips, inspiration, and courses. Piano Educator Members also receive special discount opportunities for our virtual festival. Join the community today!

 
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The Festival for Creative Pianists and Abundant Silence honors the work of 21st Century musical artists. We strive to compensate these exceptional professionals fairly for their time, effort, and creative skill. The pricing of our programs and publications reflects this goal. We continue to strive for inclusivity and diversity in our program participation and outreach as well as our selection of 21st Century musical artists who we publish and support.

 

FESTIVAL DIRECTORS

Our leadership team is dedicated to providing unique, creative learning experiences and programming for piano students of all ages, teachers, lifelong learners and the general public.

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LUKE RACKERS

Executive Director

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ARTHUR HOULE

Founder/Artistic Director

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EVELYN BILLBERG

Program Director

Are you interested in participating in the
Festival for Creative Pianists ​but still have questions?  

Email us or contact one of the festival directors above.

 

TEACHING ARTISTS

 
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JOHN SALMON is the only person to have served as a judge for the Festival every year since its founding in 2001. He has distinguished himself on four continents, as both a classical and jazz artist.

In the United States, he has given recitals for the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago, the Discovery Series in Indianapolis, the Van Cliburn Foundation in Fort Worth, and a Busoni Gala at Symphony Space in New York. He has also appeared as recitalist at many colleges and universities across the United States, including Tulane, Vanderbilt,  Cincinnati College Conservatory, and San Francisco State University.

His performances have been heard on many radio stations in the U.S., including NPR, WNYC in New York, WFMT in Chicago, and KUSC in Los Angeles; and on the national radio stations of Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Ukraine.
 
John is also a frequent guest performer at festivals in the U.S. and Europe, having appeared at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (Charleston, South Carolina), Piano Festival Northwest (Portland, Oregon), Interlochen Piano Festival (Interlochen, Michigan), Festival Internacional de Música del Mediterráneo (Cartagena, Spain), and the International Bartók Festival (Szombathely, Hungary). He has toured China six times, with concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Hangzhou. He has also been the featured artist for the Music Teachers National Association state conferences in California (CAPMT), Virginia (VMTA), and Minnesota (MMTA).   
 
John has recorded four compact discs of Dave Brubeck's classical piano music, on the Phoenix, Naxos, and Albany labels. Brubeck dedicated two compositions to Salmon - "The Salmon Strikes (song sample)" and "Bach Again (song sample)."John's CD of piano pieces by Nikolai Kapustin is also on the Naxos label, and his CD of his own jazz compositions, Salmon Is A Jumpin', was released by Albany Records in November 2010.

As guest lecturer, John has spoken on a wide array of topics – e.g., "Beethoven’s Shadow" (The Juilliard School), "September 1828: Schubert’s Last Three Piano Sonatas" (Boston Conservatory), and "Adding Notes to Classical Scores" (Conservatorio de Música, Morelia, Mexico).
 
John has been a member of the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music since 1989. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin; the Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School; the Solistendiplom from the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, Germany; and the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (philosophy) degrees from Texas Christian University. His awards include the Premio Jaén (1979), the Gina Bachauer Award from Juilliard, a fellowship from the Beethoven Foundation (known nowadays as the American Pianists Association), and prizes from the 1979 University of Maryland (William Kapell Competition) and 1984 Busoni competitions.

Dr. John Salmon International Reviews
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Dr. John Salmon's Publications
Dr. John Salmon's Videos

A sampling of Dr. Salmon's expressive gestures at the 2017 Festival for Creative Pianists adjudications:

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John Salmon & Connor Watz

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Maria Evans & John Salmon

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John Salmon & Maria Ali

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A bemused Maria Ali looks on as Dr. Salmon makes a point in his own inimitable way

 
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Dr. John Salmon's Publications

KEVIN OLSON is an active pianist, composer, and member of the piano faculty at Utah State University, where he has taught courses in piano literature, pedagogy, collaborative piano, music theory, aural skills, and others. In addition to his collegiate teaching responsibilities, Kevin coordinates the piano program at Utah State University, and oversees the Utah State University Youth Conservatory, which provides weekly group and private piano instruction to more than 200 pre-college community students. The National Association of Schools of Music has recently recognized the Conservatory as a model for pre-college piano instruction programs. Before teaching at Utah State, he was on the faculty at Elmhurst College near Chicago and Humboldt State University in northern California.

A native of Utah, Kevin began composing at age five. When he was twelve, his composition, An American Trainride, received the Overall First Prize at the 1983 National PTA Convention at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since then he has been a Composer in Residence at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, and has written music commissioned and performed by groups such as the Five Browns, American Piano Quartet, American Festival Choir and Orchestra, Chicago a cappella, the Rich Matteson Jazz Festival, Music Teachers National Association, and several piano teacher associations around the country. He gives workshops and performances nationally and internationally, most recently in India, China, Canada, and Great Britain.
 
Kevin maintains a large piano studio, teaching students of a variety of ages and abilities. Many of the needs of his own piano students have inspired hundreds of books and solos published by the FJH Music Company, which he joined as a writer in 1994.

Dr. Olson inspires students at the 2017 Festival for Creative Pianists adjudications:

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Kevin Olson & Sophie Brants

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Genesse Johannik & Kevin Olson

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Kevin Olson & Kira Waite

 
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As a dynamic composer and unique music educator, WYNN-ANNE ROSSI's compositions have reached audiences throughout the United States and around the world. She has over 100 publications, primarily for piano, that are widely distributed online and in music stores. Her repertoire also includes works for vocal and chamber groups, concert band and orchestra. Various commissions have been sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, the National Endowment for the Arts, Music Teachers National Association and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. 

Wynn-Anne has a specialty for bringing the art of composition to young musicians. She has been offering composition residencies in Minnesota schools and across the country since 2003, inspiring hundreds of students to write their own music. Partnerships have included the MUNDI Project (UT), the Linda Luebke Strings Festival (IN), the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (MN), and many more. Rossi has also written two comprehensive series that encourage young pianists to compose: Music by Me (FJH, with Kevin Olson) and most recently, Creative Composition Toolbox(Alfred).                   

 

Active as a presenter, Wynn-Anne is known for her innovative lectures, workshops and master classes. She lectures on a wide variety of subjects, including the importance of “Speaking Music” and “American Music: Jazz meets Latin,” inspired by her two popular series, Música Latina and Jazzin’ Americana (Alfred).  

Rossi was educated in music theory and composition at the University of Colorado. Further training included choral conducting at Harvard University and jazz pedagogy through the University of Illinois. She has also studied composition under Pulitzer Prize recipient Aaron Jay Kernis.

Dr. John Salmon's Publications
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Wynn-Anne Rossi offers constructive feedback to students at the 2017 Festival for Creative Pianists adjudications:

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Wynn-Anne Rossi & Desi Silverman-Joseph

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Wynn-Anne Rossi & Heather Hunt

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Wynn-Anne Rossi & Renée Hoyt

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Wynn-Anne Rossi & Abby Waite

 
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EVAN MAZUNIK plays contemporary and improvised music as a composer, keyboardist, and musical director in the Denver, CO area. Fluent in Soundpainting (52 videos), a sign language for live composition, Evan is composer/director for ZAHA, his NYC-based ensemble. He has performed with Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, and Robin Eubanks, and has played at creative music venues such as Roulette, The Stone, and Dazzle.

As a composer, his commissions have included works for jazz band, chorus, and various solo instruments, as well as interdisciplinary works for theater, dance, and film. He scored the HBO2 documentary "The Checker King," which received critical acclaim at the DOCtober Film Fest in Santa Monica, CA.

As an educator, he founded the Sunnyside Piano Academy while in New York, and has collaborated with Jeffrey Agrell for master classes and workshops at Colorado Mesa University, University of Indiana, University of North Texas, Southern Mississippi University, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and many others.

In 2016, he was the first (and only) person - in conjunction with
Jeffrey Agrell - to perform a 100% improvised audience-interactive concert on Colorado Mesa University's Guest Artist Series (see Agrell-Mazunik program). He returned on September 25, 2019 to once again perform on CMU's Guest Artist Series with another improvisation enthusiast, Conrad Kehn.

Evan received a Bachelors degree in piano performance and a Masters in jazz studies from the University of Iowa. He currently serves as Director of Worship, Music & Arts at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, CO.

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Dr. Matt Cooper's Book-Length Study

Evan Mazunik (right) at the 2018 Festival for Creative Pianists

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John Salmon, Wynn-Anne Rossi & Evan Muzunik

 
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MARTHA HILL DUNCAN has been Abundant Silence's Featured Composition Educator. A Texas native, she began piano lessons at the age of eight and later received a diploma in vocal music in the first graduating class of The Houston High School for Performing and Visual Arts. She earned a degree in composition from The University of Texas at Austin studying composition with Donald Grantham and piano with Gregory Allen, Danielle Martin, and Errol Haun. In Ithaca, New York she worked with pianist Trudi Borden and composer Robert Palmer and in 1982, moved to Canada with her husband, astrophysicist Martin Duncan. In Toronto she continued her musical studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music with composer Sam Dolin.


In recognition of her adopted country, many of Martha's vocal and choral works are set to Canadian texts. Some of these songs have won awards in both American and Canadian choral and art song competitions. In addition to her vocal writing, Martha is also known for her piano compositions, many of which were inspired by places where she has lived or visited. A piano examiner for The Royal Conservatory of Music, Martha is also a renowned clinician and frequent adjudicator. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her husband and has two grown children: Alex, a mathematician and Claire, a singer, actress and voice over artist.

One-on-one session at the 2017 Festival for Creative Pianists

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Wynn-Anne Rossi & A Festival Participant

 

Before joining our roster in 2021, DR. MATT COOPER was a clinician and recitalist for the 2004 Festival for Creative Pianists.


Matt Cooper is a Professor Emeritus of Music at Eastern Oregon University, where he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Faculty award. He is the author of a Duke Ellington: A Study in Styles (College Music Society, 2013) and has been a keynote speaker and recitalist on Ellington’s piano music at conferences in Amsterdam, in England, and at Reed College (Portland). A prizewinner in the Thelonious Monk International and Great American Jazz Piano Competitions (1988), he has toured with the Woody Herman big band, and performed or recorded with many jazz artists such as Eddie Harris, Nancy King, Glen Moore, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and Clark Terry.
 
Dr. Cooper has performed jazz and classical recitals and concertos with orchestras throughout the United States, as well as in the Russian Far East. He has recorded four jazz and classical CDs, and has been a guest artist at festivals such as the San Juan College (New Mexico) Jazz Festival, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Jazz Festival, Piano Duet Festival-by-the-Sea, as well as the Festival of Creative Pianists when it was briefly located in Boise (2004). He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oregon. Dr. Cooper has done extensive study in the Taubman approach to piano and has studied Tango music in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
 
Dr. Cooper has adjudicated many piano festivals and competitions throughout the Northwest, including the MTNA Performance Competitions in Washington and Montana, the Boise Sonatina Festival, and many others. A Past President and Lifetime Member of Oregon Music Teachers Association, he is in frequent demand throughout the Northwest as a performer, adjudicator, clinician and presenter, and he is known locally as the accompanist of choice for nationally-known jazz artists such as Rob Scheps, Kathy Kosins, and Dmitri Matheny.

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Dr. Matt Cooper's Book-Length Study
 
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Fred Karpoff

https://entradapiano.com

Winner of the Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award presented by MTNA, Steinway Artist, and Professor of Piano at Syracuse University, Fred Karpoff is highly sought after for workshops throughout the world. After recovering from a career-threatening injury, his life’s work is realized through guiding teachers and pianists toward more efficient, healthful and expressive playing as the Artistic Producer of Entrada Piano. Training with Yoheved Kaplinsky, Leon Fleisher, and Ann Schein, and work with Tai chi, the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Methodâ have contributed to his multi-dimensional approach to piano teaching and playing. Learn more at entradapiano.com.

 

Fred presents workshops and master classes throughout North America and abroad, including multiple appearances at the MTNA Conference, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. He is regularly featured as the conference artist and/or clinician at state and provincial music teachers’ association events, including those of Texas, California, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alabama, Alberta, Virginia, and North and South Carolina.

 

He has performed as soloist and collaborative pianist on four continents, including venues in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Finland, Italy, China, India, and North America. He has been fortunate to study with Leon Fleisher, Ann Schein, Robert Weirich and Yoheved Kaplinsky, and to have had extensive coachings with Karl Ulrich Schnabel and Richard Goode. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Peabody Conservatory and his undergraduate training took place at Northwestern University.

 

Fred Karpoff has served as visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music and is an international Steinway Artist. He is Professor of Piano and Ensemble Arts at the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University.

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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS

 

Check out the 2019 Festival for Creative Pianists alumni spotlights: James Algermissen and Ella Kollett!