Vermont Festival

The Festival for Creative Pianists is coming to Central Vermont in 2025!


At the Festival for Creative Pianists, we seek to foster diverse and well-rounded musicianship that goes beyond the “autonomic wizardry” that is often overemphasized in competitions.

Above all, pianists and composers are urged to develop and showcase their unique creative talents with individuality, personality, exuberance, originality, and spontaneity in a fun social constructivist educational setting.

The Festival for Creative Pianists is part of a growing movement whose battle cry is, in John Salmon’s words, “to loosen the strictures of perfectionism and literalism that have gradually eviscerated the interpreter’s art in this age of ‘note-perfect’ recordings and competitions, and to reemphasize the beautiful, the imaginative.”

Dr. John Salmon

Program Highlights

This festival is for pianists who seek to develop their creative skills or re-kindle their creative spark. Our goal is to nurture your creative development while uplifting your creative voice and encouraging your creative expression.

Participants prepare performances, submit optional written compositions, and receive constructive and individualized masterclass-style feedback from world-renowned teaching artists to help guide their development and continued creative exploration.

These world-class teaching artists provide extensive individualized feedback and enriching opportunities to grow artistically and develop interpretive and creative skills.

  • Individuality, Originality, Artistry
  • Comprehensive and Unique Awards
  • Unique Learning Experience w/ Private Coaching
  • Workshops, Concerts, and Intesnives

Key Components

All festival participants prepare 10-15 minutes of performance repertoire to present to a panel of 3 teaching artists. Following the performance, the teaching artists provide individualized feedback focused especially on creative elements. These sessions are open to the public and open for all participants and teachers to attend.

Workshops on a variety of creative topics are offered through the week, primarily centered on creative historical interpretation, composition, improvisation, arranging, pedaling, performance technique, genre exploration, and more. At least one intensive is offered, allowed participants to dive deeply into a topic over several days. These workshops and intensives are focused on development of creative skills and expression.

Participants have the option of submitting a written composition ahead of the festival for detailed feedback from a teaching artist. They can then revise their work to make it performance ready for the festival week. Participants have the option of performing their own work during a concert or having a teaching artist perform the work. Composition participants will also gather for a group coaching session with the teaching artists who provided feedback on their work.

Nightly concerts are offered through the festival week, including a night featuring works by composers on the Abundant Silence roster, and a night featuring performances by the directors and teaching artists. The final day features a concert to highlight the best work of each festival participant. Participants receive a video/audio recording of the best work from this concert.


The in-person festival is recommended for piano students and enthusiasts from ages 10 and up* who have an understanding of foundational musical elements such as dynamics, articulation, rhythmic values, time signatures, and note reading on the grand staff (generally from the late beginner/early intermediate level through advance level).

While there are no prerequisites to enroll in this festival, we recommend having knowledge of basic musical elements like dynamics, articulation, notation reading on the grand staff, key signatures, musical expressions, concept of style, tempo and meter, etc. This is generally the equivalent of 2-3 years of previous musical study, depending on the learner.

*Pianists under age 18 will need to be accompanied by a guardian during the festival week. Guardians can attend the festival week for the rate of room and board.


All participants are recognized with one special, individually-tailored award to highlight their excellence and creative development.

Our uniquely diverse awards celebrates standard baroque through contemporary repertory as well as neglected, yet important, skills — e.g., improvisations (any style), original concerto cadenzas & classical embellishing (demonstrated by most of history’s greatest composers yet seldom seen today), versatility (needed to thrive in today’s competitive market), lyricism (usually overshadowed by “loud and fast” playing), original compositions (too few venues exist for young serious composers), works by female composers (underrepresented elsewhere), and tasteful arrangements & transcriptions (often disallowed in other events).


Reach Out With Questions

Evelyn Billberg, Program 595-4656

Festival Features

Individuality, Originality, and Artistry

We seek to foster diverse and well-rounded musicianship that goes beyond the “autonomic wizardry” that is often overemphasized in competitions and evaluations. Above all, pianists and composers are urged to develop and showcase their unique creative talents and perform with individuality, personality, exuberance, originality, and spontaneity.

Comprehensive  Awards

‚ÄčTeaching artists bestow one special, individually-tailored award certificate to each participant to spotlight that person’s finest achievement. Our diverse award menu celebrates standard baroque through contemporary repertory as well as creative skills – e.g., improvisation, original concerto cadenzas and classical embellishing, versatility, lyricism, original compositions, tasteful arrangements, transcriptions, & more!

Unique Learning Experience

World-class adjudicators, teaching artists, and clinicians provide participants of all ages and teachers with a powerful and uplifting learning experience through individualized feedback and insight into the creative process. Participants are encouraged to engage with fellow participants by sharing their work, collaborating, and commenting on the work of others. 

Festival Workshops and Concerts

‚ÄčEvery festival includes a comprehensive and experiential array of workshops that help participants build creative skills, examine and interpret historical works, discover and appreciate new music, develop practice strategies, and explore new ways of thinking creatively. Participants attend live workshops, concerts, coaching sessions, and other events that will help spark their creativity and inspire their continued development.