Faculty & Guest Artists
ECU FACULTY ARTISTS
Jerome Lowenthal, Juilliard School
Yukiko Sekino, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Conservatory Preparatory School
Andrew Tyson, Winner, Avery Fisher Career Grant; Laureate, Leeds and Queen Elisabeth competitions
Wei-Yi Yang, Yale School of Music
Jerome Lowenthal, born in 1932, continues to fascinate audiences, who find in his playing a youthful intensity and an eloquence born of life-experience. He is a virtuoso of the fingers and the emotions.
Mr. Lowenthal studied in his native Philadelphia with Olga Samaroff-Stokowski, in New York with William Kapell and Edward Steuermann, and in Paris with Alfred Cortot, meanwhile traveling annually to Los Angeles for coachings with Artur Rubinstein. After winning prizes in three international competitions (Bolzano, Darmstadt, and Brussels), he moved to Jerusalem where, for three years, he played, taught and lectured.
Returning to America, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic playing Bartok’s Concerto no. 2 in 1963. Since then, he has performed more-or-less everywhere, from the Aleutians to Zagreb. Conductors with whom he has appeared as soloist include Barenboim, Ozawa, Tilson Thomas, Temirkanov, and Slatkin, as well as such giants of the past as Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, Pierre Monteux and Leopold Stokowski. He has played sonatas with Itzhak Perlman and piano duos with Ronit Amir (his late wife), Carmel Lowenthal (his daughter) and Ursula Oppens (his life partner). His recordings have garnered two Grammy nominations and have spanned the whole keyboard repertoire from Sweelinck to Rzewski.
Teaching, too, is an important part of Jerome Lowenthal’s musical life. For twenty-eight years at The Juilliard School and for forty-nine summers at the Music Academy of the West he has worked with immensely gifted students. He gives classes annually at the Bimfa Festival in Beijing and is a regular participant in the piano festivals of Israel, Italy, France. Germany, Korea, and China, as well as those of his own country.
John O’Brien was born into a musical family. He studied piano with his father from the age of five until graduating from high school.While in high school he also studied violin, flute, and later harp and spent many hours playing string quartets with his three younger brothers. He began his undergraduate studies as a double major in violin and piano performance studying violin with Robert Gerle and piano with William Masselos.He continued his college piano studies with John Perry.In 1989 Dr. O’Brien was awarded the DMA in accompanying from the University of Southern California. There he studied with Gwendolyn Koldofsy and Jean Barr.While at USC he also studied organ with Cherry Rhodes and harpsichord with Malcolm Hamilton.Dr. O’Brien has been on the faculty of East Carolina University since 1985.He has been the Professor of Accompanying, Chairperson of the Department of Vocal Studies and Director of the ECU Opera Theatre. Dr. O’Brien has collaborated with such artists as Metropolitan Opera stars Hilda Harris and Victoria Livengood, violinist Eliot Chapo, tenor Bill Brown, soprano Louise Toppin, flautist Carol Wincence, and clarinetist Deborah Chodacki. He has performed in New York’s Merkin Recital Hall, Weill Recital Hall, and at the Istanbul Festival with cellist Selma Gokcen. As keyboardist he performs regularly with Atlanta Baroque, Clarino Consort and Baroque dance soloist Paige Whitley-Bauguess. He has performed recitals with soprano Julianne Bairdand baroque violinist Julie Andrijeski, (Apollo’s Fire).He was a featured artist at the 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 Magnolia Baroque Festival in Winston-Salem NC and he has performed several times at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival with Chatham Baroque.Dr. O’Brien is Organist/Choirmaster at First Presbyterian Church in Kinston NC and he is the conductor of the Eastern Youth Orchestra.It is interesting to note that of all the wonderful musicians Dr. O’Brien has played with the most famous musician he can claim association with is a former EYO student—Grammy winning andPulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw.
Dr. O’Brien’s home, The Music House, is a Victorian home — one of the oldest in Greenville — which has been meticulously preserved and decorated in period style. On the National Register of Historic Places it was built in 1902 by Jesse Moye.The Music House serves as a unique venue in Eastern North Carolina for approximately forty varied concerts per year.
Dr. O’Brien owns three pianos, a fortepiano, a harpsichord, three pump organs and two pipe organs.His Victorian Model “C” 8-foot “Small Concert Grand” Steinway was built in 1887. It was used as the performance instrument at Steinway hall in NYC until it was sold in 1904. The piano has undergone a complete restoration and now resides in his music room where it is used for practice and concerts.
Pianist Keiko Sekino enjoys an active career as a solo recitalist and chamber musician in the United States and abroad, having performed at such venues as Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Hall, Bennett-Gordon Hall at Ravinia Park, and Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in Santander, Spain. She has participated in festivals including Ravinia, Norfolk, and Yellow Barn in the United States and Kuhmo, Encuentro de Música y Academia de Santander, La Gesse, and Pontino in Europe.
In 2006, Keiko Sekino was one of four pianists invited to participate in the Carnegie Hall Professional Workshop with Thomas Quasthoff. As a duo with soprano Awet Andemicael, she worked with baritone Thomas Quasthoff and pianist Justus Zeyen on Lieder by Schubert, Wolf, and Strauss in public masterclasses and was presented in a recital at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Her performances have also been featured on WFMT (Chicago)’s From Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute series and on WDAV (Davidson, North Carolina).
An accomplished chamber musician, Ms. Sekino has shared the stage with violinists Ana Chumachenko and MinJung Kang, and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Daedalus Quartet, and Enso Quartet. In 2016, her recording of Schumann’s complete works for cello and piano with cellist Emanuel Gruber was released from Delos label.
Keiko Sekino completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and holds additional degrees from Yale University in economics and music. Among her teachers are Peter Frankl and Robert McDonald. She has also worked closely with Elisso Virsaladze, Claude Frank, Boris Berman, and Margo Garrett. She serves as Associate Professor of Piano and Director of Applied Piano Studies at the East Carolina University School of Music..
Praised for her “thrilling, inspirational performance” (Florida Sun-Sentinel) and “elegance of line, leaping energy” (San Jose Mercury News), pianist Yukiko Sekino has forged a career that encompasses a wide range of interests. A soloist noted for her performances of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin, she frequently collaborates in chamber music and performs some of the most challenging twentieth and twenty-first century works.
Sekino is the Gold Medalist of the 2006 International Russian Music Piano Competition and a 2010 winner of the S&R Foundation’s Washington Award. She made a debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age sixteen, and has since performed with the New World Symphony, Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra. Recent recitals include those at the Overtures Series in Washington, D.C., Dame Myra Hess Concerts in Chicago, Hitomi Memorial Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Northeast Asia International Piano Festival in China. She has given masterclasses in the United States and China.
Between 2005 and 2008, she was a resident pianist of the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In 2013, she performed as a soloist in Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto for Piano and Harpsichordat Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in culmination of Weill Institute Professional Training Workshop with John Adams and David Robertson.
Sekino is a graduate of Harvard University and the Juilliard School, and holds a doctoral degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her teachers include Gilbert Kalish, Seymour Lipkin, Robert Levin, and Eda Shlyam. She previously taught at Colby College, and currently teaches piano at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the New England Conservatory Prep School.
Hailed by BBC Radio 3 as “a real poet of the piano,” Andrew Tyson is emerging as a distinctive and important new musical voice. In summer 2015, he was awarded First Prize at the Géza Anda Competition in Zürich, as well as the Mozart and Audience Prizes. These victories have resulted in numerous performances throughout Europe under the auspices of the Géza Anda Foundation.
Andrew is a laureate of the Leeds International Piano Competition where he won the new Terence Judd-Hallé Orchestra Prize, awarded by the orchestra and conductor Sir Mark Elder. Enjoying an ongoing relationship with the orchestra Andrew joined them again last season for several performances. With concerto performances taking him across North America and Europe, Andrew has performed with orchestras from the North Carolina Symphony and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall, to the SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, Musikkollegium Winterthur and the National Orchestra of Belgium under Marin Alsop. Highlights this season include his Wiener Konzerthaus debut with the Haydn Philharmonic Orchestra and a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Recital appearances include major cities across the US and Europe at venues such as Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts, New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Zürich Tonhalle. In addition to his debut in Hong Kong, this season sees Andrew in recital at Piano aux Jacobins Toulouse, the SWR2 Mainz, the Palace of Arts Budapest and Lyon’s Salle Molière amongst others.
As winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 2011, Tyson was awarded YCA’s Paul A. Fish Memorial Prize and the John Browning Memorial Prize. After early studies with Thomas Otten, he attended the Curtis Institute of Music where he worked with Claude Frank. Studying with Robert McDonald Andrew later earned his Master’s degree and Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School, winning the Gina Bachauer Piano Competition and receiving the Arthur Rubinstein Prize in Piano.
Pianist Wei-Yi Yang has received worldwide acclaim for his captivating performances and imaginative programming. Winner of the gold medal at the San Antonio International Piano Competition, he has performed at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and across America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Most recently, he was the soloist in a performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie at Carnegie Hall that The New York Times hailed as “sensational.”
In demand as a dedicated teacher, Wei-Yi Yang has presented master classes and performances in Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Serbia, and Montenegro, among other countries around the world. Mr. Yang’s performances have been featured on NPR, PBS, RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana), ARTE (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne), the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company), and on recordings for such labels as Genuin (Leipzig), Hyperion (London), Naxos (Hong Kong), Albany Records, Renegade Classics, and the Holland-America Music Society.
A dynamic chamber musician with a diverse repertoire, Mr. Yang is a frequent guest artist at festivals in Lucca, Italy; Mallorca, Spain; Novi Sad, Serbia; Monterrey, Mexico; Konstanz, Germany; Kotor, Montenegro; and La Jolla and Napa, California; as well as the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, in Connecticut. Mr. Yang has collaborated with such distinguished musicians as Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, Richard Stoltzman, David Shifrin, Frank Morelli, Roberto Díaz, Roger Tapping, Clive Greensmith, Axel Strauss, Syoko Aki, and Ani Kavafian, to name just a few, as well as such esteemed ensembles as the Alexander, Brentano, Cassatt, Pacifica, and Tokyo string quartets, among numerous others.
Born in Taiwan of Chinese and Japanese heritage, Mr. Yang studied first in the United Kingdom and then in America with renowned Russian pianists Arkady Aronov at the Manhattan School of Music and Boris Berman at the Yale School of Music. Mr. Yang has also worked with eminent pianists Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Vera Gornostaeva, Hans Graf, Byron Janis, Lilian Kallir, and Murray Perahia. Mr. Yang has adjudicated the Isidor Bajic Piano Memorial Competition, the San Antonio International Piano Competition, and the Concert Artists Guild auditions. In 2004, he received his doctorate from the Yale School of Music, where he joined the faculty in 2005 and serves as Associate Professor of Piano, chair of the DMA committee, and Faculty Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College.
Pianist Kwan Yi has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kimmel Center, Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, the Metropolitan and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museums, Jordan Hall, Jones Hall, Mann Performing Arts Center, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Library of Congress, Kravis Center of the Arts, Großer Sendesaal des Hessischen Rundfunks, Auditorium du Louvre, Teatro Principal de Alicante, Teatro Gayarre, Suntory Hall, and Seoul Arts Center.
Mr. Yi has appeared as a soloist with the Russian National Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and the Brevard Festival Orchestra under the batons of Hans Graf, Julian Kuerti, Grant Llewellyn and Mikhail Tartanikov. As an avid chamber musician, he has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Miriam Fried, and Roberto Diaz on national tours and was invited to perform at the Kronberg, Ravinia, Trondheim, and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festivals and Carnegie Hall Presents, Curtis Presents and CIM Mixon Hall Master Series. As a solo recitalist and masterclass instructor, he has completed residencies at University of Arkansas Little Rock, Bowdoin College, Grand Valley State University, John Brown University, Marylhurst University, Michigan State University, Ouchita Baptist University, Pusan National University, Randolph College, Stephen F. Austin State University, Sookmyung University, Cleveland Museum of Art, IAC International Piano Festival in China, Sendai Cultural Center in Japan and Theatre de Vevey in Switzerland. His performances have been broadcast by WQXR, Radio France and Radio Frankfurt.
A recipient of many honors and prizes, Mr. Yi’s awards include Mieczyslaw Munz Prize, National Federation of Music Clubs Award, and major prizes in the Sendai International Piano Competition, and the Trondheim and Trio di Trieste International Chamber Music Competitions.
Mr. Yi is a graduate of the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School and the Peabody Institute where he worked with Leon Fleisher and Robert McDonald. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Piano at East Carolina University School of Music.