Piano festival to be livestreamed, include virtual master classes

To celebrate the 33rd Gladys Frisch Harris Piano Festival, Hastings College will let the music play on through a livestream of the festival on Saturday, April 4 at 10:00 a.m. Festival performances and the guest lecture by Dr. Benjamin Downs can viewed through Hastings College Music’s Facebook page — facebook.com/HastingsCollegeMusic.

Benjamin Downs 20w
Dr. Benjamin Downs

Downs will be introduced at 10:00 a.m., after which he’ll play a program of music by Robert and Clara Schumann, Liszt and Brahms. Following the performance, he’ll give a talk on interleaved practice. Viewers can ask questions in the comments section, and Downs will answer.

Hastings College professor Dr. Jonathan Sokasits will then perform on the livestream at about 11:00 a.m., presenting a program of Beethoven, Liszt and Concert Etudes on Billy Joel, with the festival concluding around 11:30 a.m.

As part of the festival, Downs and Hastings College professor Dr. Jonathan Sokasits are providing virtual master classes with college and high school students.

Downs is a pianist, scholar and teacher based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a performer, he has been a prize winner in numerous national and international piano competitions including the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, the Chautauqua International Piano Competition, the Northwestern Piano Competition and the Cincinnati Chamber Music Competition.

He has performed throughout the United States, Italy, Germany and Switzerland as both a soloist and with his wife, cellist Rebeccah Parker Downs. He has also collaborated with members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and Windsor Symphony Orchestra.

He completed his DMA in piano performance at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where his primary teacher was James Tocco. He also studied with Eugene, Elisabeth Pridinoff and Michael Chertock. Downs is also an active musicologist and music theorist. He earned a PhD in the History and Theory of Music from Stony Brook University in 2018, specializing in philosophies of listening and European avant-garde music since 1968.

He has received many awards for his scholarship, including a Fulbright Fellowship, a Paul Sacher Stiftung Research Scholarship and two DAAD Fellowships. His work has been published in the Journal for Music Theory, Paul Sacher Stiftung’s Mitteilungen and Music Research Forum.

Hastings College is Nebraska’s premier private college. A four-year residential college that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement, Hastings’ student-centered initiatives include providing books, an iPad and a two-week study abroad experience at no additional cost. A block-style semester schedule allows professors and students to focus on fewer classes at a time and promotes hands-on experiences. Discover more at hastings.edu.

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