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Amateurs Performers

J. Michael Brounoff

Judith Evans

Robert Finley

Joel Goodman

Grace Huang

Carlos Huertas

Mari Ito

Vanessa Lam

Georgina Lavery

John Nees

Joann Oh

Jose Mauro Peixoto

Utako Tanigawa

Yoko Taruki

Kelly Walker

Wei Ling Wang

Mari Yoshihara

 

 

Amateurs Mini Session Performers

 
Simon Finlow
 
Mihono Kawamata
 
David Swenson
 
Rebecca Wang

 

J. Michael Brounoff

U. S. Administrative Law Judge
Plano, TX
 
Master Class Repertoire
Claude Debussy, transcr. by Jacques Durand: Danse Sacree, Danse Profane
 
Chamber Music
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Trio in C major, KV 548 (II. Andante cantabile)

 

Although he suspended formal piano study after high school, Michael continued to play for personal enjoyment, serving as musical director of the satirical review, “Assault and Flattery” while in law school. As a practicing attorney, he still found time to direct the music for local productions of Broadway musicals, including Brigadoon, The Fantasticks, Anything Goes, The Grass Harp, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, and Guys & Dolls. He resumed formal piano study at age 53 with Dr. Tamas Ungar of Texas Christian University and—after accepting an appointment as Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration in Syracuse, NY— with Dr. Fred Karpoff of Syracuse University. Transferring back to Dallas, he resumed study with Dr. Ungar. He has competed in the Van Cliburn Foundation’s, International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs four times, advancing to the semi-final round three times. He has attended Piano Texas Academy and Festival at TCU every year since 2000 except one, and won in competition the privilege of concerto performance with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra four times. Michael lives in Plano, TX with his wife of 34 years, Martha Jane, their son, David Franklin, and Michael’s piano, a 9-foot Knabe named “Obiwan.”
 
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Judith Evans

Physician
Shaker Heights, OH
 
Master Class Repertoire
Robert Schumann: Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), op.82

 

Judith Evans began her music study as a child in the Preparatory Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), studying piano, keyboard harmony, and music theory. While at Vassar College, she studied piano with Earl Grove and Blanca Uribe, and studied composition with Richard Wilson. She also spent a summer semester at CIM, studying piano with Mignon Bennett as well as taking courses in sight singing, ear training, and harmony.  She then took time off from formal music study to go to medical school.
She resumed formal piano study in 1998. She has been studying with Gerardo Teissonnière at CIM since Spring 2011. She has been a performing member of two local music clubs for the past 14 years.  She participated in the final round of the CIM Preparatory/Continuing concerto competition in 2012 and in 2013. She participated as an Active Observer at the Piano Texas International Academy and Festival in June 2013.
Dr. Evans is a physician at the Cleveland Clinic Beachwood Family Health Center, where she practices gynecology. She is married to Thomas McGrew MD, and they have two adult children. She also studies yoga, and is currently completing teacher training in the Satyananda Yoga tradition.
 
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Robert Finley

Retired Electronics Engineer
Northborough, MA
 
Master Class Repertoire
Isaac Albeniz: Triana from Iberia Suite
 
Chamber Music
Robert Schumann: Violin Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105 (II. Allegretto – III. Lebhaft)

 

Robert Finley was born in Hull, England, and is a retired electronics engineer. He began to play the piano at the age of 7, studied at Trinity College of Music and with Norma Fisher, Albert Ferber and in the masterclasses of Jorge Bolet, Louis Kentner and Vlado Perlemuter. He studied electronic engineering at Sussex University and worked in the UK and USA in the field of telecommunications. He gained the ARCM diploma with Honours from the Royal College of Music in 1976. He played recitals and concertos in the USA, UK, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Argentina, Japan and Israel. He is the founder of the Boston Piano Amateurs Association that organizes international piano competitions every two years. He played in piano competitions in the USA and overseas and was the winner of the 2012 Yamaha and Pianist Magazine amateur piano competition in Manchester, UK. In 2013 he was invited back to give a recital at the Chethams School of Music and played the first movement of the Chopin 2nd Piano Concerto with the Manchester Camerata orchestra. In 2012 he played the Liszt 1st Piano Concerto with the Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 he gave a recital at the Gasteig auditorium in Munich Germany and also two recitals at the Earth Plaza Auditorium in Yokohama Japan.
 
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Joel Goodman

Cell Biologist / Professor
Carrollton, TX
 
Master Class Repertoire
Johannes Brahms: Fantasies, Opus 116

 

Joel Goodman has played the piano since childhood – in New York City as a young boy, in Southern California during his school years, and in Dallas since 1982. He took private lessons through his mid 20s, and then started up again in 1999, studying with Adam Wodnicki at Unversity of North Texas. Goodman has played in Van Cliburn Amateur Competitions as well as the first Berlin Amateur Competition. He has performed with the Ft. Worth Symphony three times as one of the winners from Piano Texas. Goodman received both his doctoral training in pharmacology and post-doctoral work in cell and molecular biology in Los Angeles. Since 1982 he has been on the faculty of UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where he directs a research program in fat storage mechanisms, with grants from the NIH, AHA, and American Diabetes Association. He also teaches medical and doctoral students, and direct the science outreach office (Science Teacher Access to Resources at Southwestern). Besides piano, Joel also enjoys his bicycle and train commute to work, reading, and wasting way too much time surfing the internet.
 
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Grace Huang

Research Scientist
Georgetown, TX
 
Master Class Repertoire
Maurice Ravel: Ondine from Gaspard de la nuit

 

I started learning playing the piano since I was 7 years old. I grew up in Taiwan and I moved to Texas for college. I have a degree in Molecular Biology from UT Austin and I work as a research scientist. I took a long break from piano lessons but re-started again in 2009 with Melanie Richards. I continued the lessons with Dr. Yi-Hsien Chien in 2011. Since 2011, I have participated in various piano festivals, master classes, and competitions.
 
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Carlos Huertas

Engineer
Arlington, TX
 
Master Class Repertoire
Johannes Brahms: Ballade in G minor, Op.118 No.3

 

Carlos Huertas is a Petroleum Engineer and MBA now participating as a Performer at Piano Texas for his second time. Carlos has been in love with the piano since a very young age. He began his musical training with organ lessons when he was 12 years old. Even though he did not pursue a career as a concert pianist as he once dreamed of, Carlos has been involved with the instrument on and off since his early twenties. He is currently studying with Harold Martina. Carlos enjoys photography, triathlons and spending time with his wife Joyce and daughter Sofia.
 
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Mari Ito
 
Architect
New York, NY
 
Master Class Repertoire
Johannes Brahms: Rhapsody in G minor, Op.79 No.2

 

Japanese native, Mari Ito obtained BA and MA in architecture and holds first class license in Japan. She practiced architectural design in her own firm for years in Sapporo, Japan and currently works at Stonehill & Taylor Architects in NYC for high-end hotel design/engineering such as Peninsula NY, Hyatt House, Intercontinental Barclay and Hilton Atlanta Downtown. Inspired by the high cultural environment of NYC, she resumed piano playing in 2010, enrolling in Juilliard School evening division.
 
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Vanessa Lam

Voice Teacher
Arcadia, CA
 
Master Class Repertoire
Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo in A major, Op.118 No.2

 

Vanessa Lam, soprano, completed her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Azusa Pacific University. She has been involved in music and performing from a young age; beginning ballet training at the age of five. She began her musical training with piano lessons at the age of seven, under Weihui Mao. Ms. Lam later began training in violin and voice; since then, she has appeared in various recitals and performances. Currently a student of Antoinette Perry and Deanna Murray, Ms. Lam has also studied with Tao Chang and Dianne Harmel. Ms. Lam has participated in the Young Artist training programs at SongFest and Intimate Opera. While studying at Azusa Pacific University, she served as the assistant stage manager for APU Opera’s productions of Gioachino Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio and Antonio Salieri’s Falstaff. She has also participated in the Amateurs program at PianoTexas in 2014 and 2015. Ms. Lam currently maintains an active teaching studio in Southern California.
 
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Georgina Lavery

Financial Advisor
Las Cruces
 
Master Class Repertoire
Franz Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy in C major, Op. 15 (D. 760) I. Allegro con Fuoco

 

Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Ms. Lavery received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Otago in Dunedin where she studied with Professor Terence Dennis. Prior to moving to the United States she completed a Master of Arts degree at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Science degree with the University of Maryland, European Division. During her time in the United States Ms. Lavery completed her Master of Music degree at the University of New Mexico with Professor Falko Steinbach. She has participated in masterclasses with Piers Lane, Ian Hominick, and Neal Larrabee and has also performed at the DTKV Music Festival in Heek-Nienborg, and the International Piano Festival in Lindlar, Germany. Since 2013 Ms. Lavery has been working as a Financial Advisor for First Command Financial Services in Sierra Vista, Arizona. She is currently studying piano with Dr. Alexander Tentser in Tucson, Arizona. In her spare time she enjoys running, gardening, and spending time with her family.
 
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John Nees

Plastic Surgeon
Delray Beach, FL
 
Master Class Repertoire
Robert Schumann: Carnaval, Op.9
 
John E. Nees, M.D., began organ studies at age 10 with Ken Wayne Klaiss, a silent movie organist in Pittsburgh, PA. He studied popular music and show tunes. At age 13, he began classical piano and organ studies with Edward M. Harris, a Julliard professor and composer in Johnstown, PA. He joined the American Guild of Organists and played in organ recitals, weddings, and religious services. During college and medical school at Cornell University, he delayed his music interests to advance his career in medicine. While at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he studied twentieth century opera with Donald Grout. He completed his medical education at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, University of Texas Southwestern Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas (internship), Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance (general surgery), and University of Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami (plastic surgery). In 1982, Dr. Nees started his practice of plastic surgery in Seattle and Bellevue, WA. He bought a Steinway piano and renewed his music studies with Justin Root, a Peabody Conservatory graduate. Two years later, he continued piano studies with Victoria Bogdashevskaya, a Moscow Conservatory graduate and Seattle Symphony pianist under Gerard Schwartz. He performed in the Performing Arts Festival of the Eastside (PAFE) in Bellevue from 1987 to 2000, winning first prize six times. In 2001, Dr. Nees moved to Boca Raton, FL, to be nearer to his wife’s family in Lima, Peru. He has continued his piano studies with Roberta Rust and Yang Shen at Lynn University, and also has performed regularly at various events, including Piano Texas International Academy & Festival and California Concerto Weekend.
 
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Joann Oh

Office Manager
Irvine, CA
 
Master Class Repertoire
Franz Liszt: Concert Etude No.3, "Un sospiro"

 

Joann Oh earned her degrees in German Studies and Pre-med from Pomona College and Wesleyan University. She is the winner of the Elisabeth Tishler Prize in Piano and a grant recipient of the YaleGriffith Scholarship to study German Studies and language in Vienna, Austria, and Munich, Germany. While in Vienna, Ms. Oh studied piano with Rosario Marciano. In addition to these accolades, Ms. Oh was also awarded a scholarship from the Korean-American Foundation for academic excellence. In 2015, Ms. Oh was chosen to participate in CCW with orchestra. Currently, Ms. Oh continues her piano studies with Dr. Anna Gliadkovskaya. In high school, Ms. Oh was recognized as a nationally ranked synchronized swimmer. Currently, Ms. Oh resides in the Orange County area.
 
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Jose Mauro Peixoto

Portfolio Manager
Sao Paulo, Brazil
 
Master Class Repetoire
Robert Schumann: Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (Allegro affettuoso)

 

José Mauro Peixoto is a mechanical engineer, graduated in 1966 by Maua Institute of Technology.  He completed a post graduated course in Business Administration at Getulio Vargas Foundation in 1970.
José works at the stock market since 1970.  He actually manages some Investment Funds that are among the top of the Brazilian funds.
José Mauro is son of the pianist Odette de Faria and the journalist Silveira Peixoto and started to study piano with his mother when he was three years old.  When he was five he made a studio recording.  At nine he gave a recital for “Pro Arte” the most famous artistic society at the time in Sao Paulo. At eleven appeared twice on Television.
His mother did not favor his adopting music as a career and encourages him to study engineering, because of his facility for mathematics.
At the age of twelve he abandoned the piano for twenty eight years, and only played again when a friend on the occasion of his fortieth birthday asked Jose Mauro to play, as a birthday gift, the Chopin’s Polonaise (opus 53), which he loved and remembered hearing him play as a child.
The success encourages José to return to the piano.  He looked for a teacher, and found Olga Normanha in Campinas, a friend of his mother’s.  For eight years he had weekly classes. At the same time, he refused invitations to work as director of two large financial institutions in Brazil, because he needed four hours daily to practice the piano.
In 1988 he gave two recitals.  In the following years he performed in public about once a year and in 1994 played the Rachmaninoff’s Concerto nº 2 with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Eleazar de Carvalho.
In 1997 he recorded a CD with works of Bach/Almeida Prado, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff.
In January, 1999, he started to participate in piano competitions for amateurs, first in Paris, after in Fort Worth.  When returned to Brasil, Jose performed five times at English Culture of Sao Paulo, once at Musical Conservatory of Osasco, once in Curitiba, most of all playing a Chopin’s Recital.
In the following years, he participate in many other piano competitions for amateurs, in Salt Lake City, Colorado, Paris, Washington, Boston, Fort Worth, Berlin.
Since 2003 he has annually participated in the Amateurs Program of TCU.
Jose loves to play bridge and dance.
 
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Utako Tanigawa

Information TechnoCIlogy Consultant/Advisor
Dawsonville, GA
 
Master Class Repetoire
Joseph Haydn: Sonata Hob:xvi 52 1st movement

 

Utako Tanigawa started playing the piano at the age of three; however she gave up playing due to work pressures. She earned multiple degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Management Science and Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems. Dr. Tanigawa has held executive positions in global corporations for more than two decades.  She has also served as an academic lecturer and researcher at multiple universities. About six years ago, her life had a dramatic turn due to a life threatening illness. Although it severely damaged her body, her love of music returned after 30 years of absence of playing the piano.  Today music continues to play a key soothing and healing role as her recovery continues while she still works as a technology advisor.
 
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Yoko Taruki

Director of Kindergarten
Yokohama, Japan
 
Master Class Repertoire
Robert Schumann: Sonata No.2 in G minor, Op.22 (First Movement)
 
Chamber Music
Ludwig Van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No.5 in F major, Op.24 “Frühlingssonate” (First Movement – Allegro)

 

I am a School Director in Japan. I started the piano practice at age four. I really enjoyed to play the piano but stopped in high school. After taking MS at Indiana University,   I have worked in the social science fields as a social case worker and teacher at kindergarten. In 2005 I performed at the music concert in the Dominican Republic. Then I started my piano practice again. From 2007 I took a piano amateur program at Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and the summer piano programs,IKIF, at Mannes College in NYC. In 2009 I was a finalist of the International piano amateur competition at Osaka and Tianjin. I participated in some International amateur piano competitions, Paris, Boston, Berlin, Texas, and Chicago. In 2014 and 2015 I attended the Piano Texas Amateurs Program.
 
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Kelly Walker

Software Developer
Concord, CA
 
Master Class Repetoire
Johannes Brahms: Klavierstücke, Op.118 , No.6 Intermezzo in E-flat minor

 

Kelly Walker began his musical studies in high school, first playing saxophone, and then later both drums and orchestral percussion. After moving to the Bay Area in 1995, he began studying piano, and currently studies in Eliane Lust's master class. He has also studied the Taubman Approach with Marc Steiner. Kelly enjoys playing works from the traditional repertoire, as well as pieces by contemporary composers such as George Crumb, John Corigliano, and David Lang. Kelly currently works as a software developer in Kaiser Permanente's Mobility Center of Excellence, supporting the Android platform. He lives in the East Bay with his wife Yvonne and their two cats Sylvester and Roxanne.
 
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Wei Ling Wang

Computer Network Technologist
Plano, TX
 
Master Class Repertoire
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Élégie from Morceaux de fantaisie, Op.3

 

Since graduating from Rice University with a degree in computer science, Wei Ling has been developing advanced computer networks utilizing latest computer technology for the telecommunication industry. She currently engages multiple engineering teams to build cloud computer networks to transport voice and data for global companies. Wei Ling also enjoys attending symphony and chamber music concerts, and operas, and actively supporting local music schools and non-profit music organizations.
 
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Mari Yoshihara

Professor of American Studies
Honolulu, HI
 
Master Class Repertoire
Mason Bates: White Lies for Lomax

 

Mari Yoshihara is a scholar, writer, and amateur pianist. She is Professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, specializing in U.S. cultural history, U.S.-Asian relations, literary and cultural studies, and gender studies. She has published a number of books, including Embracing the East: White Women and American Orientalism (Oxford, 2003) and Musicians from a Different Shore: Asians and Asian Americans in Classical Music (Temple, 2007). She also writes and publishes extensively in Japanese. Her Japanese-language publications include a book about the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition as well as a book about contemporary American society and culture based on her own experience with online dating. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Dearest Lenny: Leonard Bernstein’s Epistolary Love and U.S.-Japan Relations, under contract with Oxford University Press. Beginning in the summer of 2014, she is also serving as the Editor of American Quarterly, the journal of the American Studies Association. As an avid amateur pianist, she studies with Thomas Yee and gives annual solo recitals in Honolulu. For her 45th birthday, she gave a recital of the program consisting of pieces that the composers wrote when they were 45. Most recently, she has been working on works by American composers whose name start with B: Amy Beach, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Mason Bates, and Kenji Bunch. She won first prize in the Aloha International Piano Festival amateur competition in June 2014. organizations.
 
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Simon Finlow

Retired IT project manager/database engineer
Washington, D.C.
 
Master Class Repertoire
 
Born in Lincoln, England, Simon Finlow began playing piano at age 4 and studied with Imogen Cooper in his late teenage years. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from Oxford University in 1977, and a doctorate in musicology from Cambridge University in 1985. Highlights for Dr. Finlow during this time included performances of the Brahms B-flat Major Concerto and Rhapsody in Blue with orchestra. “Hard reality,” he says, forced him along another path towards a career in IT, engineering, and management following his move to the United States in 1985. Two key events in 2013 changed the direction of Dr. Finlow’s life: He quit his high-stress job that was taking a serious toll on his health, and he attended the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. After learning about the Amateur Competition, he was inspired to find a new piano teacher, to rebuild his repertoire, and to perform again. When he is not playing, Dr. Finlow enjoys running marathons, delving into theories of cosmology and quantum physics, playing Gran Turismo on PlayStation, and helping his wife maintain a delicate peace between their 14-year-old twins.
 
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Mihono Kawamata

Web designer
Yokohama City, Japan
 
Master Class Repertoire

 

Mihono Kawamata, a web designer from Yokohama City, Japan, began her musical education with private piano lessons at age 3, and as an adult has augmented her practice by participating in amateur competitions and master classes in Tokyo. Her dedication has paid off, netting Ms. Kawamata outstanding performance awards at the PTNA Piano Competition in 2013 and 2014. Other events she has attended include the Washington International Piano Festival in 2009, a master class with Michel Michalakakos (viola) of the Paris Conservatory in 2012, master classes at the Boston Conservatory in 2013 and 2014, a chamber music master class with Markys Placci and Andrew Mark, and a piano solo master class in Japan with Nikita Fitenco and Katerina Zaitseva in 2014. Away from the piano bench, Ms. Kawamata goes to the movies, travels, and enjoys cooking and fine food.
 
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David Swenson

Physician
Butler, PA
 
Master Class Repertoire
 
David Swenson studied the piano for 12 years with Earle C. Voorhies. In 1972, he placed first in the Amateur Championship Concerto Competition, but then chose to embark on a medical career. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1982, and completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Swenson practiced medicine for 32 years, during which time he completely stepped away from the piano. Now semi-retired, he has redoubled his musical efforts, having been inspired by the extensive piano community he has found online. A new piano teacher aided him in preparing his application to this Competition. Dr. Swenson, who is active in his church, is looking forward to meeting other amateur piano acquaintances here whom he has connected with online.
 
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Rebecca Wang

Actuary
Tokyo, Japan
 
Master Class Repertoire
 
Rebecca Kao Wang was born in Hong Kong and lives in Tokyo, but she grew up in the Boston area, studying music under Jade Lin in Newton, Massachusetts and Beatrice Erdely in Concord, New Hampshire. She minored in music and majored in computer science engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1990. In the ensuing 25 years, Ms. Wang has worked in the corporate world, became an actuary, and then married and became the mother of two now-teenage boys. Asia beckoned again for Ms. Wang, so the family moved in 2007 for her husband’s job. She took some time off from work to stay home with her kids  (including one who has learning difficulties), but now that they’re nearly grown, Ms. Wang has found herself with more time to devote to playing the piano. She currently studies with Kaoru Fukuda in Tokyo. Entering the Amateur Competition is a dream of hers, giving her the incentive to return her music to performance-level, she says.
 
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