Canadian Kevin Wang among 13 young pianists invited to 6th Claudette Sorel Piano Competition

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13 young pianists
from an international pool of 72
invited to participate
in the 6th Claudette Sorel Piano Competition
Musicians from the United States, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland applied this year
Final Round on Sunday, November 7, 2021,
to be streamed live
Now in its sixth year and named for pianist and SUNY Distinguished Professor Claudette Sorel,The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition is open to young pianists of all nationalities ages 15 – 18. Created specifically for young pianists who are passionate about piano performance and repertoire to encourage their growth in a healthy, supportive environment, and designed to allow them to demonstrate their own artistic vision, the competition takes place annually on the campus of the State University of New York at Fredonia, New York.
13 pianists have been invited. The Final Round of the competition will be streamed live on November 7th. Participants will perform on a Steinway D Concert Grand piano in SUNY Fredonia’s state-of-the-art Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall (chosen by record label Telarc International for several recordings). All participants will receive a live recording of their performance and a copy of the judges’ written notes. First Prize is a $2,500 cash purse. An additional $1,250 in cash awards will be awarded at the discretion of the judges (past awards have included: Artistic Excellence Award, Best Programming Award, Best Contemporary Piece Performance Award).
Judges for the 2021 Competition include: Fredonia piano faculty member and
professional pianist and educator Father Sean Duggan; guest judges pianists and educators Brian Preston and Beverly Smoker; and internationally renowned pianist, Fredonia piano faculty member and Competition Director Eliran Avni.


Finals November 7, 2021
Click here for live streaming link
Invited Pianists:
Ian Cannon, 16, of Sugar Land, Texas
Celine Chen, 17 of Valencia, California
Julian Frank, 17, of Leavenworth, Washington
Anthony Lee, 16, of Newton, Massachusetts
Sammi Li, 17, of Montgomery, New Jersey
Matan Gur Nelson, 15, of Ramat Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Israel
Angelina Ning, 17, of Boca Raton, Florida
Hyeonuk Park, 16, of Lexington, Massachusetts
Emma Tio 16, of San Gabriel, California
Kevin Wang, 16, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Yuka Yang, 16, of Germantown, Tennessee
Maria Adele Zampa, 17, of Carona, Ticino, Switzerland

Jonathan Zheng, 15, of Bellevue, Washington

Named for pianist and late SUNY Distinguished Professor Claudette Sorel, who made more than 2,000 concert, recital, and festival appearances and played with 200 major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, NBC Symphony, and London Philharmonic, the Competition also offers a Piano Fellows Program, now in its third year.


November 6-7, 2021

28 national and international Fellows from New York, New Jersey, Texas, California, Florida, Washington, Ohio, Illinois, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania in the United States, and Canada, Spain, Mexico, and Colombiawill attend on full scholarship (personal/travel expenses not included).
The Sorel Piano Fellows Program is held in conjunction with the piano competition and is designed for talented pianists (ages 15-18) who are serious about their craft and are looking for an intensive musical experience, but who may not yet be ready for the competition circuit. 8 musicians will participate
in-person and 20 online for lessons, workshops, masterclasses, and an evening performance. The program also is an excellent way to prepare for college/conservatory auditions.

New this season, one Piano Fellow will be awarded The James Horbett Memorial Piano Fellows Scholarship – a $2,500 scholarship to enroll at SUNY Fredonia as a piano student.


ABOUT Father Sean Brett Duggan

American pianist (and organist) Father Seán Brett Duggan is a Benedictine monk of Saint Joseph Abbey in Saint Benedict, Covington, Louisiana. From 1988 to 2001 he taught music, Latin and religion at St. Joseph Seminary College in Louisiana and was director of music and organist at St. Joseph Abbey. From 2001 to 2004 he was a visiting professor of piano at the University of Michigan.
Since then he has been associate professor of piano at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. During the fall semester of 2008 he was also a guest professor of piano at Eastman School of Music. He has been a guest artist and adjudicator at the Chautauqua Institution for several summers, and is also a faculty member of the Golandsky Institute at Princeton, New Jersey. He continues to study the Taubman approach with Edna Golandsky in New York City.
A native of New Jersey, Father Duggan has performed with many orchestras, including the Louisiana Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig Baroque Soloists,Prague Chamber Orchestra, American Chamber Orchestra and Pennsylvania Sinfonia. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance at Loyola University in New Orleans and his Master of Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1979. For three years he was the Pittsburgh Opera Company’s pianist and assistant chorus master. He also taught piano at Carnegie Mellon and was a member of the Carnegie Mellon Piano Trio. Duggan left Pittsburgh to enter the Benedictine order at St. Joseph Abbey near Covington, Louisiana, in 1982, graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Arts degree in Theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988.
In September 1983, after entering the monastery, Séan Duggan won first prize in the Johann Sebastian Bach International Competition for pianists in Washington D.C., which entitled him, among other honors, to various concerts around the country and a two-month tour of Germany. In the “Bach Year”, 1985, he gave complete performances of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier in New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Birmingham to critical acclaim. In 1991 he participated again in the Bach Competition in Washington D.C.; this time he was one of three first-place winners, and this entitled him to another round of concert engagements and a second tour of Germany.

During the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, Sean Duggan performed the complete cycle of J.S. Bach’s keyboard works eight times in a series of fifteen recitals entitled Bach On the Threshold of Hope in various American and European cities. For seven years he hosted a weekly program on the New Orleans NPR station entitled “Bach on Sunday.”

ABOUT Brian Preston

An acclaimed pianist whose skill has been praised in such publications at The New York Times, Tribune de Geneve (Switzerland) and Berlin Tagespiegel (Germany) Brian Preston debuted with the Baltimore Symphony at age 17 and has since performed concerts throughout the U.S., Canada, he Virgin Islands, and in many of Europe’s leading music centers. A double prizewinner in the Washington International Competition, National Prizewinner in the 1985 Young Artist Comp. of the Nat’l Federation of Music Clubs and two time prizewinner in the Boyd Piano Comp. of Augusta, Georgia, Preston was also the only U.S. finalist in the ’78 Geneva International Competition. He has served as the Artistic Director of the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition since 2010.
Mr. Preston studied with the Peabody Conservatory’s famed director and music author Otto, and his daughter Dorothea. At the Eastman School of Music he studyied with legendary pedagogue Cécile Genhart. Mr. Preston also worked with Peabody artist faculty Konrad Wolff and Walter Hautzig prior to attending Eastman.

As a teacher dedicated to passing on the musical traditions handed down to him, Preston’s pre-college private students have won first prizes in international through regional levels since 1980. A leader in the Rochester, New York, music community, Mr. Preston balances his private teaching with collegiate piano instruction through Nazareth College where he has been on faculty since 1991. He also has served on faculty of the Chautauqua Summer Piano Institute. There he has given masterclasses at such institutions as Ithaca College, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Binghamton, the University of Connecticut at Storres, the Interlochen Academy, Allegheny College and the Shean Competion of Edmonton, Alberta. He is dedicated to serving his local music community through the Greater Rochester MTNA and the Rochester Piano Teachers Guild.

ABOUT Dr. Beverly Smoker

Professor Emerita of Music at Nazareth College where she served as Coordinator of Keyboard Studies and taught piano, piano pedagogy and literature, and current NYSMTA Immediate Past-President, Dr. Beverly Smoker retired in May, 2017 as Chair of the Music Department and director of the Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy. She previously taught at Cornell, Grinnell, and Coe Colleges, and at the University of Iowa. For several years she also maintained a private piano studio in her home. Her students have earned undergraduate and graduate music degrees at universities throughout the country and maintain careers as pedagogues and performing artists.

A long-term MTNA member, she has presented many lectures, workshops and performances for national and state and conferences as well as for local community organizations. Her numerous appearances as pianist include performances on the Knitting Factory Composer Series, NYC, and recordings for Centaur Records and ABC Radio in Brisbane, Australia. She presents a wide range of repertoire including recitals and workshops devoted to twentieth-century music, and she has premiered several works written for her. Dr. Smoker was a recipient of a Gramma Fisher Fellowship at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and for ten years, a recipient of solo touring grants from the Iowa Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. In 2017 she was honored with the Rochester Philharmonic’s Outstanding Music Educators Special Award.

ABOUT Eliran Avni

Acclaimed by such papers as The New York Times and Ma’ariv (Israel), Eliran Avni is an emerging force in the classical music scene. A piano faculty member at SUNY Fredonia, and a member of the Ekstasis Duo with cellist Natasha Farny, Mr. Avni made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta at age 17. Since then, he has appeared as a soloist and chamber music collaborator throughout Europe, North and South America, as well as in his native Israel. As a soloist, Eliran is known as a preeminent interpreter of the music of composer Avner Dorman. Solo performance highlights include Dorman’s Azerbaijani Dance with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta at Carnegie Hall, Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto with the Alabama Symphony, and the Grieg Concerto with the Oakland East Bay Symphony (California). Since their 2018 debut, the Ekstasis Duo has appeared on series including New York City’s Merkin Hall, Saugerties ProMusica, and Rochester’s Live from Hochstein.

Having developed a strong affinity for chamber music after studying with world-renowned musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Isaac Stern, Mr. Avni has collaborated with numerous artists, as well as actors Sigourney Weaver and Richard Chamberlain. In 2010, Eliran founded SHUFFLE Concert, a mixed chamber ensemble of six virtuoso musicians based on his original performance concept which has the audience select music to be performed during the concert from a varied list of composers and genres. He served as Artistic Director of the ensemble from 2010-2018, performing throughout the US, Canada and Israel.

A charismatic lecturer and teacher, Eliran has presented master classes and lectures on the connection between music and emotion in both the United States and Israel, and has taught at prestigious institutions such as The Juilliard School and the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival.

Having begun his childhood musical training at the Tel Aviv Academy with Marina Bondarenko, Eliran won first prize in both the Clairmont and Rachmaninoff Competitions at the age of 16. From 1989-2000, he was an annual scholarship recipient of the Israel-America Cultural Foundation. Dr. Avni received both his BM and MM degrees while studying with Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky at The Juilliard School and completed his DMA degree as a student of both Dr. Kaplinsky and Jerome Lowenthal. His dissertation: “The Musician’s Challenge: Merging Emotion and Structure in Performance”, written under the advisement of Carl Schachter, presents an original methodology designed to assist musicians in discovering and understanding the emotional content of musical works.

ABOUT Claudette Sorel

Born in Paris of French-Hungarian parentage, Claudette Sorel was trained in the United States under famous teachers as Olga Samaroff Stokowski, Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski. A child piano prodigy, she is the youngest graduate of The Juilliard School completing her degree at age nine. At the age of 10, she made her New York Town Hall debut and the following year performed with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

Her scholastic honors include graduating high school in three years as valedictorian, and simultaneously attending The Juilliard School with complete fellowship. She graduated from there with highest honors and as its youngest graduate. Upon the death of Mme. Samaroff, the Curtis Institute of Music granted her a five year fellowship and she received its Artist Diploma with highest honors. This was accomplished while Miss Sorel was also a student at Columbia University from which she received a Mathematics Degree-Cum Laude. At Columbia she studied musicology with Mitchell, Ussachevsky and Beeson.
Miss Sorel made more than 2,000 concert, recital, and festival appearances and has played with 200 major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, NBC Symphony, and London Philharmonic. One hundred of those performances were as soloist in the MacDowell Concerto No. 2 which is featured on a CD. She recorded for RCA Victor, Monitor and Musical Heritage. Miss Sorel gave the premiere performances of works by Lukas Foss, Harold Morris, Paul Creston, Peter Mennin and others.
Her numerous awards and citations from the time she was 12 include the Ford Foundation Concert Artist Grant and the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Award (as its youngest winner). She judged for countless international and national music competitions.
Chairman of the the State University of New York’s piano department for 13 years, Sorel was designated by the Trustees of SUNY the youngest and only woman “Distinguished University Professor,” among a faculty of 30,000. She also held professorships at the University of Kansas, and Ohio State University.

Claudette Sorel passed away in 1999.

ABOUT The Sorel Organization

The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc., a 501©(3) private foundation, was established in 1996 by pianist
Claudette Sorel and named for her parents. The Sorel Organization is committed to expanding opportunities for women in music, amplifying the voices of underrepresented composers, advancing gender and racial equity, and broadening the classical music canon for future generations.
The Sorel Organization will be releasing a commemorative 2 CD set, titled “Claudette Sorel Rediscovered,” and remastered by Fredonia’s Grammy nominated head of the Sound Recording Technology program, Bernd Gottinger, on October 15, 2021. For more information, please visit
Generous support for these events are made possible through a charitable gift by the Sorel Organization. A special thank you to the Fredonia College Foundation and June Miller-Spann, Director of Development.

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