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Wassermann Festival and Concert Series 2014 Approaches

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

graphic illustration/poster for the 2014 Wassermann Festival at USU

Four musicians are featured in the 2014 Wassermann Festival and Concert Series presented by USU's Piano Program and the Department of Music. Recitals and master classes begin in March and continue through April 3.

The Wassermann Festival and Concert Series at Utah State University is among the important activities provided by the USU Piano Program and the Department of Music. Held every other year, the festival not only offers top-notch training for young pianists through workshops and master classes, it also brings the elite of the piano world to Cache Valley for performances. And this year’s roster of artists will not disappoint, according to Wassermann Festival Director R. Dennis Hirst.

This year’s festival is also the first to take place after the death of the festival’s namesake, Irving Wassermann. This year’s festival honors his memory.

“The many whose lives have been immeasurably enriched through professor Wassermann’s influence mourn his passing,” Hirst said. “His energy, enthusiasm and love for music and his students is irreplaceable.”

The lineup of artists teaching and performing at this year’s festival include Daniil Trifonov, Sergei Babayan, Vadym Kholodenko, Sean Chen and Stephen Hough. The festival’s workshops and recitals are spread over a two month period this year, beginning March 5 and concluding April 3.

The festival opens with a duo recital with Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan Thursday, March 6.“This year we have the unusual situation of bringing in two pianists who have already staked a claim to the title ‘great’ in this century,” Hirst said, referring to Daniil Trifonov, Grand Prix winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and Vadym Kholodekno, Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. “This is the fourth time we’ve tried to get Daniil Trifonov here and he is joined by Sergei Babayan. Both are remarkable musicians and I’m looking forward to the duo recital.”

Featuring a piano duo at the Wassermann is a first under Hirst’s tenure. It adds a unique element to this year’s recitals, he said. Both pianists are on stage at the same time and the program includes works for two pianos as well as transcriptions of solo or orchestral works.

The second round of workshop sessions and recitals brings two prize-winning pianists from the latest Van Cliburn Competition (May 2013), Vadym Kholodenko and Sean Chen. Their appearance recognizes the close relationship that the Wassermann Festival and USU’s piano faculty have developed with the Van Cliburn competition over the years. Through the years, a number of first-place Van Cliburn winners have appeared in Logan thanks to the Wassermann Festival and this year is no different. Kholodenko is the Gold Medal winner and Chen received the Crystal Award.

Chen will be heard in a solo recital first, March 20, followed by Kholodenko’s solo recital March 21.

The series concludes with festival favorite Stephen Hough in what is his third appearance. He will conduct a master class April 2 and his solo recital is April 3.

“Stephen Hough is simply a remarkable individual,” Hirst said. “He’s not only a world-class musician, he’s a painter, poet and author — he’s a ‘thinker.’”

Hirst said that Hough is not only an audience favorite, but among his faculty colleagues in the music department as well. The pianist has adjusted past world performing schedules to appear in Logan and, in fact, asked if he could return this year.

“Stephen is always welcome at the Wassermann Festival,” Hirst said.

All recital performances are held in the Performance Hall on USU’s Logan campus and all begin at 7:30 p.m. Information for the 2014 festival can be found online. Students interested in attending the Wassermann master classes can register online as well. Those interested in observing the master class sessions can obtain tickets at the door prior to each session. Members of the public are welcome, but a ticket is required.

Recital tickets are available at the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in the Chase Fine Arts Center, Room 139-B. Reserved seating concert tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and $12 for students ages 8 and older. Call the box office with questions, (435) 797-8022, or purchase tickets online via the college’s Production Services website.

For information on the Wassermann Festival, contact Hirst at or call (435) 797-3257.

Related links:

Contact: Dennis Hirst, (435) 797-3257,

Writer: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

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