Artistic Director

Born in Pittsburgh, Awadagin Pratt began studying piano at the age of six. Three years later, having moved to Normal, Illinois with his family, he also began studying violin. At the age of 16 he entered the University of Illinois where he studied piano, violin, and conducting. He subsequently enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he became the first student in the school’s history to receive diplomas in three performance areas – piano, violin and conducting.

In 1992 Mr. Pratt won the Naumburg International Piano Competition and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Since then, he has played numerous recitals throughout the US including performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and the NJ Performing Arts Center. His many orchestral performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Detroit and New Jersey symphonies among many others. Summer festival engagements include appearances at Ravinia, Blossom, Wolftrap, Caramoor and Aspen, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Tokyo.


International superstars in recital, including grand prize winners of the Van Cliburn, Tchaikovsky, Cleveland, Chopin and Naumburg competitions.


Mark Rabideau is a cultural entrepreneur, busy re-imagining how we must prepare musicians to thrive within the shifting marketplace and cultural landscape of the contemporary moment.



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Consistently acclaimed for his exquisite tonal beauty and superb artistry, Boris Slutsky emerged on the international music scene when he captured the First Prize—along with every major prize, including the Audience Prize and Wilhelm Backhaus Award—at the 1981 William Kapell International (University of Maryland) Piano Competition.



Dennis Thurmond is a master of free improvisation both in the classical and jazz realms. His signature performances and lectures feature his creation of improvised works in historic styles ranging from Czerny to present day. A classical and jazz pianist, as well as a keyboard synthesist, he is the author of Tai Chi of Improvisation, and co-author of Improvisation: A Systematic Approach for the Classical Pianist.



Ms. True has been described in Clavier Companion as “One of the world’s most sought-after and beloved pianist-teachers.” Her students have won top prizes in national and international competitions, and many of her former students now serve on the faculties of major schools around the U.S. and in other countries. Formerly Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland, Ms. True is currently Professor of Music at the Eastman School of Music.



Robert Weirich is one of America’s most sought-after piano teachers and has been on the faculty of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance since 1998 where he holds the Jack Strandberg Missouri Endowed Chair in Piano. His students pursue successful careers in many fields of music and have won top prizes in such important international piano competitions as the 1992 Naumburg (Awadagin Pratt) and the 2001 Van Cliburn (Stanislav Ioudenitch).