‘Who’s Who’ of classical music gather to judge MSIPC

Their biographies read like a Who’s Who of today’s world of classical music.

They hail from Armenia, France, Hong Kong, Texas and New York. They teach, they perform, they lecture, they record, they give masterclasses and workshops. They are the five judges for this year’s Missouri Southern International Piano Competition.

Nancy Weems was on the jury for the 2006 competition and returns this year as Senior Judge. She is professor of piano at the University of Houston Moores School of Music in Houston, Texas. As a teacher, she has received numerous awards for excellence, including being named Moores School of Music Faculty of the Year in 2004.

Her students have won top awards in numerous piano competitions, and many have gone on to professional careers as performers and teachers. Weems is a frequent presenter at the Music Teachers National Association Convention and the World Piano Pedagogy Conferences. She regularly presents lectures, recitals, and teacher workshops and is a frequent MTNA convention artist.

As a concert pianist, Weems has performed extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Mexico and the former Soviet Union. She has appeared as a solo artist and in conjunction with renowned orchestras. Her recording, “Classical Hollywood,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990.

Weems performed the opening concert of the competition on Monday,. She present ed works of Bach, Schumann, Gershwin and William Albright.

Critics have called her “a rare treasure, an extraordinary pianist, grand in scope, and powerful in her interpretation, possessing fantastic technique.”

Evelyne Crochet was born and educated in Paris, France, where she won first prize at the Paris Conservatory as a student. She studied with Edwin Fischer in Switzerland, and, in Bern, was invited by Rudolf Serkin to study with him in the United States. This exceptional sponsorship resulted in her emigration to the U.S., and she now makes her home in New York City.

She has held artist-in-residence and faculty positions at Brandeis, Rutgers, Boston and Georgia State Universities and has served on the faculty at the New England Conservatory in Boston.

She has performed on major stages of Europe and the Americas, both as a soloist and with orchestras. Her vast repertoire spans over three centuries, and her recordings include works of Bach, Debussy, Schubert, Gabriel Faure and Erik Satie.

Erna Gulabyan chaired the judging panel for the 2002 MSIPC. She returns as a member of the panel for 2008.

She is a native of Armenia, where her musical training began at the Yerevan Central Music High School for especially gifted children. She continued her training at the Moscow Conservatory and later emigrated to the United States, where she now teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has a special interest in training young concert artists, and many of her students have won local, national and international competitions.

Gabriel Kwok was born in Hong Kong and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1972 to 1978. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2003.

He joined the faculty of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 1984 and has been head of keyboard studies there since 1989. Mr. Kwok has served as visiting faculty at a number of musical institutions outside Hong Kong, including several in the United States.

He has collaborated with many distinguished artists in concerts and given masterclasses in cities in Asia, Britain, Germany, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Barry Snyder has been professor of piano at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York, since 1970.

He won three major prizes at the 1966 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and since then has recorded nearly 40 CDs and given concerts worldwide, spanning more than four decades.

He is a founding member of the Eastman Trio, whose recordings of the complete chamber music of Schubert and Russian “Romantic” trios have received critical acclaim. He is well known as a chamber music collaborator, having recorded complete works of Stravinsky for violin and piano, complete Schumann and Brahms violin and piano sonatas, and complete music for cello and piano of Gabriel Faure.

On Saturday, Snyder will present a lecture titled “What it Takes to be a Modern Musician.” The lecture will be presented to the public and to music students preparing for careers in music.

Evening concerts are free to students and seniors, who may obtain a pass by contacting the MSIPC office.

MSIPC is a 501(c)3, tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation funded by contributions from businesses, foundations, and individuals. For details, persons may contact the office at (417) 625-9755.