BGSU celebrates joy of piano with Dubois festival & competition

Internationally renown pianist Marina Lomazov will perform, teach, and judge during the Dubois festival at BGSU.


BG Independent News

Bowling Green State University will welcome 23 top teenage pianists from as close as Toledo and as far as Taiwan as well as guest performer and judge Marina Lomazov for the David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition, Feb 1 through 3.

The festival was established in 2008, and since then more than 200 pianists have come to campus to compete for the top prize of $3,000. The young pianists already have impressive resumes, often having won other competitions. Several have performed on “From the Top” on National Public Radio.

The semifinalists have been selected through a preliminary round in which video recordings of applicants are screened. Each contestant must prepare a program of 20-30 minutes in length that includes pieces from three of the four major periods — Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary. One of the pieces must be a movement from a Classical sonata.

The semifinal round will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center with the finals taking place Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m. The winners are announced shortly after the last pianist performs.

Lomazov will be on campus throughout the festival. On Friday, Feb. 1 she will present a master class with students in the College of Musical Arts from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall.

On Saturday, Feb. 2 she will perform a free recital at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall. Tickets for the recital are $7 and $3 for children and non-BGSU students in advance from All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. Students with BGSU ID card, and the festival participants will get in free.

On Sunday morning, she will join two BGSU faculty members to judge the finals. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance.

Lomazov is no stranger to competitions. She launched her career with prizes in several international events. Her performing has drawn praise from critics around the world. Talk Magazine Shanghai described her performances as “a dramatic blend of boldness and wit.”

A native of Ukraine, Lomazov emigrated to the United States in 1990. She had studied at the Kiev Conservatory where she became the youngest First Prize Winner at the all-Kiev Piano Competition. In the United States she studied at the Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music, where she received the Artist’s Certificate – an honor the institution had not given a pianist for nearly two decades.

Her touring schedule did not allow for a telephone interview previous to her performance. She did answer questions posed by BG Independent News via email.

BG Indy: Given this is a piano competition, can you tell me about your own experience with competitions? Was it something you enjoyed doing? What did you learn from them?

Marina Lomazov: I’ve always loved doing competitions, because my mind-set was always — I am not going to win, so I will just enjoy performing in front of people (which I loved doing).  I am very critical of my playing and I never thought I was good enough.  But it liberated me from the pressure to win; my mindset was: if I don’t win, I learn.  Looking back at my experiences, it was that lack of pressure that allowed me to play well at times and occasionally win —I was only aspiring to play my personal best without worrying how I stack up against anyone else.  

BG Indy: What will you be listening for in the contestants? What sets a winner apart from the rest of the field?

Marina Lomazov: I am always looking for authenticity, sincerity, and directness in playing — I am the most grateful audience if I feel someone is really communicating. I do have to help choose someone to take home the first prize, but for me, listening will be a concert experience — I will enjoy the message of beauty and depth that music always carries with it.  I know that everyone in the competition will reach me with that message.

BG Indy: When did you decide to make piano your career? What led to that decision?

Marina Lomazov: The cute answer is my piano lessons were a consolation prize for being kicked out of the ballet school when I was 5.  But honestly, I never could imagine doing anything else — I was really only just good at piano and was a solid C student at all my other subjects.

BG Indy: You’ll be performing Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” at your recital. How do you make such a familiar piece new for your listeners?

Marina Lomazov: Each picture becomes an elaborate stage play for me — and I tell it slightly differently each time — I hope that you might also hear it differently every time you hear it.

BG Indy: Why this program at this event?

Marina Lomazov: “Pictures at an Exhibition,” besides being a masterpiece, is such a vivid, accessible and familiar piece. When people hear it for the first time, they fall in love with it and anyone who has heard it before will want to hear it again. One cannot lose.

BG Indy: Can you tell me something about the appeal of William Bolcom’s “Serpent’s Kiss Rag” and John Fitz Rogers’ “Blue River Variations”  that are concluding the recital?

Marina Lomazov: It’s modern American music that employs authentic American music idioms — ragtime, jazz, even boogie-woogie sound.  Much like Mussorgsky, who drew on the wealth of Russian folk music, these great American composers borrow from the rich American culture of music.

The semifinalists are:

Bryant Li, Katy, Texas

Derek Zhu, Ann Arbor

Jean Yu, Rochester Hills, Michigan

Kelsey Lee, Summit, New Jersey

Olivia Yang, Charlotte, North Caroline 

Salem Wang, Farmington Hills, Michigan

Arun Kamath, Cincinnati

George Shum, Broadview Heights

Stephanie Petinaux, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Jubilee Wang, Farmington Hills,  Michigan

Emma Taggart, Blaine, Minnesota

Natasha Wu, Tainan, Taiwan

Theodore Deddens, Toledo

Athena Grasso, Beachwood

Michelle Tang, Potomac, Maryland

Christian Chiu, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Emma Ki, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Kasey Shao, Cincinnati

Tejas Shivaraman, Northville, Michigan

Maggie Ma, Brooklyn, New York

Elizabeth Qiu, Potomac, Maryland

Jingchun Li, Rochester, New York

Colin Choi, Chicago, Illinois.

All events are free and open to the public.