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KU piano professor to participate in multiple activities to honor bicentennial of Franz Liszt

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This year marks the bicentennial of renowned pianist Franz Liszt (born 1811), and Steven Spooner, KU assistant professor of piano, will participate in numerous celebratory activities to honor the famed musician.

Spooner has been invited to perform at three of the largest Liszt commemorations in the world: The Maratone Liszt at the Academia Santa Cecilia on March 11 in Rome, Italy, featuring famed pianists from around the world performing the complete works of Liszt in a first-ever series; the American Liszt Society National Festival/Liszt and the Future, where Spooner will be featured as the final performer of a festival featuring new works commissioned by the ALS by William Bolcom; and the Shenzhen International Piano Festival in Shenzhen, China, dedicated to Liszt's music and featuring performances by several distinguished pianists of international reputation.

In addition to these performances, Professor Spooner was selected as a juror for the only two Liszt international piano competitions in the United States: the International Liszt-Garrison Piano Competition in Washington, D.C. in October and the International Liszt Competition in Los Angeles in November.

Spooner will feature the works of Liszt in his numerous solo recitals planned for 2011 in Rome, San Francisco, Budapest, Milan, Jakarta, Singapore, and Washington, D.C. He will give an extensive interview and broadcast of Liszt's B Minor Sonata on Radio 4 in Hong Kong to publicize the Liszt Bicentennial and upcoming Shenzhen International Piano Festival.

Alan Walker, British pianist, musicologist and renowned author of the three-volume biography of Franz Liszt, stated:

"I always enjoy hearing Steven Spooner play the piano. He is a born musician. Too many pianists know only how to play the piano fast and loud. Spooner makes you listen to the nuances. And that makes him interesting. It is also what places him among the best interpreters of Franz Liszt."

The President of the American Liszt Society, Thomas Mastroianni, said this about Spooner:

"As President of the American Liszt Society, I am proud to claim Steven Spooner, pianist, as one of our internationally recognized and distinguished performance members. I have worked closely with him over past years not only through festivals of the society where his performances have been acclaimed and eagerly anticipated, but also on the Amalfi Coast of Italy where he has been a valued member of our distinguished artist faculty. His merit as a teacher has been equally important to his excellence and brilliance as a pianist of international stature. His strength of character, warmth of personality and outstanding intellect are evident in all he does, and are especially evident in his musical interpretations. Poetry, intuitive insight, declarative brilliance emanate from his secure and well prepared presentations. He is indeed a formidable pianist."

Described as "dazzling" (Washington Post), critics have hailed the powerful performances of pianist Steven Spooner and noted that the "American had everything: polished technique, musical intelligence, innate sensitivity, and a personality that reaches across the keyboard." Spooner is a prizewinner at each of the seven international piano competitions he has entered and top prizewinner at both the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Artlivre Chopin/Liszt International Piano Competition. He was awarded First Prize and recipient of the Niekamp Career Grant as most outstanding pianist in French music at the Paris Conservatory.

Spooner has released 14 solo and chamber recordings on the EMR, IU, and Everythingmusic labels and has studied at Paris Conservatory, Moscow and Tbilisi Conservatories in the former Soviet Union, and Indiana University, Bloomington. He has been appointed to the Artist Faculty of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, IIYM, and the Gyorgy Castle Academy in Budapest. Spooner currently serves on the piano faculty at the University of Kansas, the National Board of the American Liszt Society, and is a Steinway Artist. His tours this year take him all over the world including major cities in Europe, South America, and Asia.

For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-9742 or visit music.ku.edu.

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