Internationally acclaimed pianists Harold Danko and Christopher Taylor will be special guests for the third annual West Virginia University Keyboard Festival and Competition, to be held at the Creative Arts Center, June 23-27.

Titled “The Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music: a Piano Festival for Students and Teachers,” the event will explore the many ways jazz and classical music intersect and influence each other.

“The goal of the festival is to celebrate the piano and diminish the barriers between the classical and jazz piano worlds,” said Christine Kefferstan, WVU professor of piano and one of the organizers of the event. “Our aim is to stimulate a deeper appreciation for the connections between jazz and classical music, as well as to have a great deal of fun!”

The festival will feature piano competitions for both high school and college students in the areas of jazz and classical music, with prizes that include substantial cash awards and opportunities to perform in the festival’s classes and concerts.

“Our student competitors come well-seasoned, with many having participated in or won international competitions already,” Kefferstan said. “The level of playing is extraordinary.”

The winners of the high school and collegiate jazz competitions will perform a recital Tuesday, June 24, at 4 p.m. in Bloch Hall and the winners of the high school and collegiate classical competitions will perform Friday, June 27, at 1 p.m. in Bloch Hall.

Workshops to be held during the festival will include topics such as: how to listen to jazz, how to listen to classical music, sacred and secular keyboard music in West Virginia, improvisation, publications, and much more.

Other concerts, including a WVU Showcase Concert, will feature WVU piano faculty James Miltenberger, Peter Amstutz, Lucy Mauro and Christine Kefferstan, as well as their students and the guest artists.

The WVU piano faculty will also offer master classes Tuesday through Friday at noon in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall (200A).

Two special public events will be held as part of the festival:

Guest artist Christopher Taylor will perform Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6 and Liszt’s arrangement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony during a concert to be held Wednesday, June 25, at 7 p.m. in Bloch Hall. Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door

Taylor will also offer a master class on Thursday, June 26, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for the first place winners of the classical high school and college piano competitions.

Guest artist Harold Danko will perform a jazz concert with local jazz musicians Scott Green and Mark Cappellini on Monday, June 23, at 7 p.m. in Bloch Hall. Tickets for that concert are also $10 and will be available at the door.

Harold Danko is a complete jazz musician, a top-level creative composer and performer and a teacher who inspires at all levels. He is professor of piano at Eastman School of Music and has made many recordings (at least 28 as a band leader), including sessions with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Woody Herman, Rich Perry, Dick Oatts and many others. His recent solo piano performances include appearances in Rochester, New York; New Haven, Connecticut; Italy and Taiwan. Other engagements have included Montreal, France and England. His teachers were Chick Corea, Jaki Byard, Zita Carno and Gene Rush. After living at the center of jazz for decades, Danko recently began to investigate the speech and music recordings of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. By exploring the traditions of early jazz, he discovered information that illustrates the challenge of relating rhythmic and metric phrasing in speech to music.

Christopher Taylor is the winner of the 1990 William Kapell International Piano Competition, and was the first recipient of the Irving Gilmore Young Arts Award. He received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1996, and the bronze medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in 1993. He is an advocate for the music of Messiaen, Ligeti, Bolcom and others of the 20th century. Taylor’s huge repertoire includes the complete Beethoven sonatas, the complete Liszt Etudes, and the Bach Goldberg Variations. His concert schedule has included performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, Houston and Boston Pops orchestras. He has appeared at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Aspen, Ravinia, and has toured Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. With a math degree from Harvard, he also pursues research in math, computing, philosophy and linguistics. He is currently professor of piano at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Other guest artists for the festival include: Daniel Strange, of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, who will speak about the solo jazz piano performance with insights to its challenges; John Salmon, of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music, will speak about Bach; and Jerry Wong of Kent State University, who will discuss Debussy and the cakewalk.

Teachers may receive course credit for attending the festival. The application/registration form for Professional Development credit is located at:

In addition, students and teachers from Raleigh County are eligible to receive financial assistance from the Beckley Area Foundation and the Carter Family Foundation to attend the festival. The two organizations have provided grants of $2,250 each, for a total of $5,000, to cover expenses such as room and transportation. The application for these grants can be found online at the keyboard festival website.

For more information on the WVU Keyboard Festival and Competition, see the Keyboard Festival and Competition website at: or contact Christine Kefferstan at 304-293-4521, email



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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