Matthew Tallbacka Loudermilk
Dr. Matthew Loudermilk belongs to a new wave in American piano performance, with its search for truth and meaning in artistic creation. His inspiration is the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Liszt, composers whose work offers rich reflections of their thoughts and spiritual revelations. Through thoughtful interpretations executed with stunning virtuosity, Matthew offers his audience an experience that is aesthetic and rich in insight.
Matthew started his music study at the age of five with his mother, Mary Loudermilk. By age fifteen he was accepted into the studio of Thomas Hecht, professor and Artist-in-Residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music. By the time he finished his studies at the Cleveland Institute, Matthew had won numerous competitions, as well as orchestra debuts that included the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Youth Symphony, and the Stow Chamber Orchestra.
On a full-tuition Trustee’s scholarship, Matthew continued his study at Case Western Reserve University, where he won the concerto competition, the Terr Ronis performance prize, and the Lymen piano prize for contemporary music. After graduating Summa cum laude in 2002 from Case, Matthew completed a Master's Degree at Rice University where he studied with Jon Kimura Parker. His other principal teachers include Robert Roux, Peter Takacs, and Daniel Shapiro.
Matthew won first prize in the 2008 Young Texas Artist Competition, first prize in the 2005 San Antonio Tuesday Music Club piano competition, and second prize at the 2002 National Career Awards Competition in Florida. His performances throughout the United States include appearances at the NFMC national convention in New Orleans, Severance Hall in Cleveland, the Gilmore Festival in Michigan, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and a live performance on WCLV-FM, Cleveland’s classical music station. In the summer of 2007, Matthew performed at the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia. At the start of 2008, he performed the MacDowell Second Piano Concerto with the Clear Lake Symphony.
In the summer of 2005, Matthew married Russian pianist Ekaterina Ryndina and together they founded the International Music Academy, a program dedicated to providing quality music instruction for pre-college students and adults. The program currently has over 150 students and 8 faculty members. In the spring of 2010, Matthew completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the the Moores School of Music under the tutelage of Nancy Weems.
^ back to top
Ekaterina Ryndina Loudermilk
Russian pianist Ekaterina Ryndina is recognized for her elegance, fiery spirit, and captivating sound, which are on display in the performance of her favorite composers Chopin, Schubert, Mozart, and Ravel. Her emotionally charged playing gives the listener the opportunity to experience a true connection with music. By engaging the audience, Ekaterina draws them into the dynamic world of classical music, transforming the ordinary piano recital into a moving and fascinating event.
Born in Moscow, Ekaterina had her Russian debut in the Bolshoi Hall of the Moscow Conservatory at the age of 14. She has since performed throughout Russia and Europe including appearances at the National Art Museum and Rudolfino Hall in Prague, the Maliy Hall of the Russian Music Academy, and Catherine’s Palace in St. Petersburg. In 1996 Ekaterina was the youngest student chosen to represent Russia in the Mlada Praha festival featuring promising young artists from all over the world
In 2000, Ekaterina was awarded second prize in the International Music Competition of Val Tidone in Italy. In 2002, she graduated from the Gnesins' Music Academy, the same conservatory that gave the world Evgeny Kissin. While at Gnesins', she studied with Armenian pianist Maria Gambarian and was privileged to perform in her legendary house concerts. She was also greatly influenced by her study with Lisa Ginsburg, daughter of the acclaimed Russian pianist Grigory Ginsburg.
Following her meeting with Dr. Robert Roux during the Prague International Piano Masterclasses, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music invited Ekaterina to study with Dr. Roux as a President’s scholar in 2002. While at Rice, Ekaterina earned third prize in the Ruth Burr Tuesday Musical Club competition and garnered the Special Award for the Performance of 20th Century Music in the Entergy Young Texas Artists Music Competition of 2003, with her convincing interpretation of the colorful music of Ravel.
In the summer 2005, Ekaterina and her husband Matthew Loudermilk founded the International Music Academy, a program dedicated to providing professional music instruction for pre-college students and adults. The program currently has more than 100 students and five faculty members.
Known for her creative approach to the performance of classical music, Ekaterina was featured as one of the performers in the Impulse Artist Series in 2007, and was heard live on KUHF radio.
^ back to top
Russian pianist Maria Gorodetskaya began her career as a winner of the "Young Pianist Tchaikovsky Competition" in Ukraine. She made her concert debut performing Haydn's Piano Concerto in D Major and Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" in Odessa Philharmonic Concert Hall.
Recognizing Maria's exceptional musical ability, her family moved to Moscow, Russia, where Maria attended Moscow Conservatory College. While a student, she actively performed for the MCC Concert Series and won second place in the Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Paris, France.
Ms. Gorodetskaya continued her music education at Gnesins' Music Academy, where she was accepted into the studio of legendary pianist and professor Maria Gambarian. She was inspired by the unique beauty of Ms. Gambarian's sound and by the passion and power of her playing. Maria stayed with with Ms. Gambarian for her Graduate and Post Graduate degrees. During her time at Gnesins', Maria participated in the Prague International Piano Master Classes and was a prize winner at the International Piano Competition in Hassel, Germany.
Following graduation with the "Highest Honor", Maria met Boaz Sharon at the International Piano Festival in Ruza and in 2006 she moved to the USA to study with him at the University of Florida. While finishing her Master's degree, Ms. Gorodetskaya was invited to perform at the International Steinway Festival, and she won the university-wide concerto competition, resulting in a performance of Rachmaninoff's First Piano Concerto with the university orchestra.
^ back to top
Ukrainian violinist Diana Rezzy is an experienced teacher whose career spans three decades and two continents. She graduated with a degree in violin performance from Leontovich Music University in Ukraine where she studied with Ekaterina Katelnikova. After graduation, Ms. Rezzy actively performed throughout the Soviet Union including concerts at the Ukrainian State Opera House, and she was a member of the Leontovich State Orchestra. During her time in the Soviet Union, she served on the faculty of Vinnitza Music School.
Ms. Rezzy's true passion was always teaching, and she resumed it after relocating with her family to Houston, Texas in 1990. She taught privately and at the Southwest Suzuki School of Music where she worked with children and adults ages three and up. Experiencing Russian teaching methods and experimenting with the pedagogical approaches of two different countries, gave Diana a unique perspective, helping to develop her personal teaching style. Several of her students have gone on to successfully major in music. Ms. Rezzy's structured teaching approach uses a fusion of Suzuki and traditional methods, which her students find gratifying and enjoyable.
^ back to top
Michael Joseph Grauvogl
Aspiring pianist Michael Joseph Grauvogl is currently pursuing his Masters of Music degree as recipient of the Hirsh Endowment Scholarship at the University of Houston, where he was accepted into the studio of world renowned concert pianist and recording artist Abbey Simon.
Mr. Grauvogl was accepted on scholarship through the Burr Endowed Scholarship to the University of Houston’s Moores School of music under the direction of Nancy Weems. He garnered first prize in the HMTA Chamber Music and Ensemble Contest at the Collegiate Division with pianist Krystel Dewberry, now his wife, performing Stravinsky’s stunningly difficult Rite of Spring for two pianos. In the spring of 2008, Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude and received his bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance. During his collegiate years, Michael had the honor of working with pianists such as Horatio Gutierrez, Craig Ketter, Clive Swansbourne, and Vedrana Subotic.
Always broadening his horizons, Mr. Grauvogl is a strong advocate for new music and for American music. In 2006 he helped form a new music group, Session 6 New Music Ensemble, which specializes in promoting new music from living composers. Mr. Grauvogl has also debuted several solo piano works by University of Houston composers as well as his own work, Ulalume, in the Moores School of Music Opera House. As a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha, Michael performed his work for the Phi Mu Alpha American Music Recital Series.
Mr. Grauvogl is a committed teacher of piano. In 2005, he received the Immauel and Helen Olshan Teaching Intern award at the University of Houston Preparatory and Continuing Studies Program. He was also awarded a teaching assistantship. Dedicated to his pedagogical studies, Michael has also pursued Kodály training under Rhona Brink and Janet Scarcella. Zoltán Kodály, the great musician, teacher, and philosopher once said, “Real art is one of the most powerful forces in the rise of mankind, and he who renders it accessible to as many people as possible is a benefactor of humanity.” It is this philosophy that powers the electrifying performances and superb teaching of Michael Joseph Grauvogl. It compels Michael to reach for the highest artistry for his students and himself so as to produce something that not only speaks to the audience, but to the performer’s very own soul.
^ back to top
A native of Florida, pianist Amanda Albert has distinguished herself in the field of piano performance, and she has given several recitals across the USA and Europe. She gave her first full solo recital at the age of eight, and made her orchestral debut at age 16 as a winner of the Ars Flores Young Artist Concerto Competition, performing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 25. In addition to having an active performance life, Amanda has composed over eighty works, including both solo and chamber music. In 1999, she was chosen as a top five winner of the New England Conservatory Composition Competition. She has been featured in five full length articles, and has also made numerous appearances on public radio.
Amanda began her studies at the age of six with Mrs. Deborah Bohl, and later with Mrs. Edit Palmer, an adjunct professor of music at Stetson University. The youngest to graduate in her class, Amanda was awarded a music scholarship at Lynn University where she pursued her bachelors of music at the age of 13 under the tutelage of Dr. Roberta Rust. During her studies, she was received with academic success, earning the Presidential Honors award and being published on the National College Dean’s List twice in a row. She was a prize winner in the Madelyn Saverick Piano Competition, and was chosen as the alternate winner in the senior state division of the Music Teacher’s National Associate (MTNA) Competition. In 2006, she was chosen to represent the US as the International Music Laureate. Amanda graduated summa cum laude, and continued to pursue her education at Northwestern University where she earned her master’s degree in Piano Performance with teacher, Dr. James Giles. Amanda is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Houston, where she was awarded a music fellowship and accepted into the studio of legendary pianist and recording artist, Abbey Simon.
Aside from her studies, Amanda has a passion for teaching and believes that the greatest reward is being able to pass on knowledge to aspiring musicians. She enjoys helping out the community and regularly volunteers her musical talents to churches, weddings, nursing homes, and organizations.
^ back to top
Mary Box-Brabant is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Piano Performance with Nancy Weems at the University of Houston's Moore's School of Music on the Hirsch Scholarship. Before studying with Mrs. Weems, Mrs. Box-Brabant was one of twelve freshmen pianists selected through worldwide auditions to study at the Eastman School of Music. She spent six years studying with the Chair of the Eastman School's Piano Department, Dr. Douglas Humpherys, on the Howard Hanson Scholarship.
Mrs. Box-Brabant was a prizewinner in her first concerto competition at the age of ten with Haydn's C Major Concerto at the Kilgore College Concerto Competition. By seventh grade, she won her first international piano competition, the DeBose International Piano Competition, and received her first critical review by Mike Greenberg of the San Antonio Express-News: "Mary Box's performance of Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor was one you would expect to hear from a touring concert artist."
In 2001, Mrs. Box-Brabant debuted at Carnegie Hall after winning a top-prize in the Sonata and Sonatina International Piano Competition. In 2003, she was a finalist in the Kingsville International Piano Competition and won first place in the Pearl Amster Concerto Competition, performing Schumann's Concerto in A Minor with the Austin Civic Orchestra.
A lover of both Mozart and poly-rhythm, Mrs. Box-Brabant has a large repertoire list spanning from Bach to Bartok, Mendelssohn to Prokofiev. Mozart, especially speaks to her, since his work contains humor yet also has great emotional depth. This year, she is focusing on works by Barber, Liszt, Chopin, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff.
Mrs. Box-Brabant has collaborated on numerous concerts with her husband, tenor Sean Brabant, who performed the title role in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring in January, 2011, at the University of Houston's Moores Opera House.
A passionate teacher, Mrs. Box-Brabant strives to show all of her students just how exciting music is so that they too will become life-long lovers of this great art.
^ back to top
Ms. Jennifer Lee recently completed her Master's degree in Piano Performance at the University of Houston under Dr. Tali Morgulis, where she also served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and lecturer in undergraduate Music Theory.
Jennifer began her piano studies at the age of nine under Mary Ann Bishop and subsequently studied with Frances Schwemmer. She was granted the Music University Scholarship and the President's Cabinet Scholarship to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where graduated Summa cum Laude from the University Honors Program with a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance.
Ms. Lee received numerous awards for her piano performances and academic achievements. These include first place winner of both the State and Regional National Federation of Music Clubs Competition (NFMC), and as a result, she competed at the National NFMC Competition in Spring of 2009. She also received the Annie Lou Ellis Award (2nd place) in the Alabama Federation of Music Clubs piano auditions (2007), 2nd place in the Birmingham Music Club piano auditions (2007), and performed at the winners' reception at the Mountain Brook Club in Birmingham. Jennifer also performed in master classes for highly renowned musicians such as Nelita True and Robert Hatten.
At the University of Alabama, Jennifer received the 2009-2010 Presser Foundation Scholarship, the University of Alabama Women's Club Scholarship (2008), and for her musical and academic achievements was named Outstanding Student of the Year from the University of Alabama School of Music (2010).
Jennifer has had a passion for teaching since a young age. She joined the faculty of the Community Music School in Tuscaloosa as a private piano instructor when only a sophomore due to her considerable work experience.
Currently Ms. Lee resides in Houston, Texas. In addition to her teaching work at the International Music Academy, she is on the faculty of the Moores Preparatory School of Continuing Studies and also maintains an active career as accompanist and music director at St. Matthias Catholic Church in Magnolia, TX.
^ back to top
Filip Blachnio, born in Ostróda, Poland, is a doctoral student in piano performance at Rice University, where he studies with Dr. Robert Roux. Filip is a passionate pedagogue and an active performer. He is sought after as a piano teacher and is a faculty member of the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program at Rice University and the International Music Academy in Houston, as well as instructor of class piano at Rice University. He also performs in recitals throughout the Houston area. In 2010 he celebrated the 200 anniversary of Chopin's birth with a performance at Lone Star College, and an all-Chopin recital and a performance of Chopin's cello sonata in Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University. In 2011 he performed Chopin's first piano concerto in E minor Op. 11. His spring 2012 concert schedule included performances at McNeese University in Louisiana, and at the University of Rochester in New York. In March 2012 Filip flew to Poland to perform a concert commemorating the World Day to fight Tuberculosis in Warsaw.
Filip started playing the piano under the guidance of Antonina Paciorkiewicz-Dutkiewicz from the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. He came to the United States in 1999 to study piano at Interlochen Arts Camp where he was a recipient of the prestigious Maddy Summer Artist Award. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in 2003 with a Fine Arts Award in piano where he studied with Dr. Stephen Perry. Filip attended the Eastern Music Festival in 2004 where he was chosen to perform in Kennedy Center in Washington DC. He was also selected to attend the International Prague Masterclasses in 2005 and 2010.
Filip graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2007 with a Bachelors of Music in piano and a minor in mathematics from the University of Rochester. At Eastman Filip studied with Prof. Thomas Schumacher. In 2009 Filip graduated with a Master of Music degree in piano from Rice University.
Filip is passionate about music of Fryderyk Chopin but he has a variety of interests and an appetite for novelty. He is currently doing research on the late piano sonatas of Alexander Scriabin as a possible topic for his Doctoral Dissertation.
In his free time Filip enjoys being with family and friends, traveling, and playing chess.
^ back to top
Guitarist and native Houstonian Michael Ward is currently distinguishing himself as one of the bright young talents in the area. He is fluent in many different styles including Jazz, Blues, Country, Pop, and Rock, and he has had the opportunity to play with the likes of Bill Evans, Vincent Herring, Jon Faddis, Brian Lynch, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Ted Rosenthal.
Michael began playing the guitar at age 11. It was at this time that he began to appreciate the rock and jazz music of his elders, which created a firm foundation that would inspire him to pursue as a lifelong passion. He continued to study the instrument throughout high school and began taking lessons with renowned Houston jazz guitarist Michael Wheeler. After high school, Michael was accepted to the University of Houston's Moores School of Music where he continued his studies with Mr. Wheeler. During his time in college Michael was a member of the highly praised University of Houston Jazz Orchestra, directed by Noe Marmolejo. In 2011, Michael graduated Cum Laude with his Bachelor of Arts in Music degree.
Since graduating, Michael has continued to work in and around Houston and has been able to travel and study privately with many highly acclaimed guitarists including Wayne Krantz, Oz Noy, Jody Fisher, and Mimi Fox. He is currently studying online with New York jazz pianist and educator, Garry Dial.
Along with performing, Michael is an extremely dedicated teacher. He constantly stresses the importance of music education and cherishes the ability to share with his students the constant enjoyment that he has been fortunate enough to experience.
^ back to top
HanQing Zhou is a rising figure in the 80's generation of pianists who is committed to connecting with today's audiences by offering strong interpretations of historical and contemporary repertoire. As a soloist he has performed in orchestral and recital settings. He debuted with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, performing Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto under James Feddeck. He has given solo and chamber performances at Warner Concert Hall, Kulas Recital Hall in Ohio, Neier Recital Hall in Chengdu, China, and Duncan Recital Hall in Houston.
Born in Chengdu, a southern city of China, HanQing attended the pre-college program of Sichuan Conservatory of Music where he studied with pianists Huang Jing and Zheng DaXin. He came to the United States for his Bachelor's Degree in Piano performance at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Professor Peter Takacs. He then completed his Master's Degree at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music where he studied with Dr. Robert Roux. HanQing has participated in many music festivals and master classes working with famous artists such as Leon Fleisher, Paul Badura-Skoda, John Lill, Nelita True, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Tomas Ungar, and Vladimir Fletsman.
HanQing received a full tuition scholarship from the Oberlin Conservatory and is a recipient of the Dr. Margaret Ann Goldstein Prize from Rice University He is also a prize winner of many competitions including the Hong Kong Mozart Piano Competition, the Firelands Symphony Orchestra Concerto Completion, and the Gu Lang Yu National Competition (in the Sichuan region).
In addition to performing, HanQing is an experienced and enthusiastic teacher striving to help each student achieve a higher level of artistry. He became interested in teaching at an early age and taught in China throughout high-school. In order to expand his knowledge of different teaching styles, he has studied piano pedagogy at both Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music. Teaching in both China and America gives HanQing a unique perspective on teaching methods. Currently, he is pursuing an Artist Diploma from the University of Houston with Nancy Weems.
^ back to top