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Garcia 2016

October 28 - 29, 2016

Welcome to the Marian Garcia International Piano Competition and Teacher Workshop page! Hosted by the Penn State School of Music's piano faculty, our event typically includes competitions for collegiate and high school pianists, masterclasses, music teacher workshops, and recitals. The festival was created through a generous grant of Edith Garcia, mother of local physician Dr. Marian Garcia.


This year, we are proud to present internationally renowned pianist Anton Nel as a guest artist. A faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin, Nel will play a two-piano recital with Penn State piano faculty member Christopher Guzman on Saturday evening, October 29, and also present a masterclass. In addition, faculty member Jose Ramon Mendez will perform a solo recital on Thursday evening, October 27.

Registrants will also have the special opportunity to hear 2015 first-prize winner of the International Chopin International Competition Seong-Jin Cho perform the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 with the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra on Friday evening, October 28 in Penn State's beautiful Eisenhower Auditorium (ticket required - information available soon).

High School Competition

The high school competition will be held on Sunday, October 30, 2016 in Esber Recital Hall. It is open to students currently in grades 9-12. First prize is $750; second prize is $400. Senior winners of the competition who are accepted as music majors at the School of Music are guaranteed a minimum of $5,000 in tuition scholarship at Penn State. The application deadline is October 10. For details and application information, click here.

Collegiate Competition

The collegiate competition will be held on Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 in Esber Recital Hall. It is open to students who are enrolled and currently pursuing undergraduate or graduate level music studies. First prize is $1,000; second prize is $400. The application deadline is October 10. For details and application information, click here

Masterclass Participation

There will be opportunities for high school and collegiate pianists to participate in masterclasses with guest Anton Nel as well as Penn State faculty members Christopher Guzman, Jose Ramon Mendez, and Timothy Shafer. Students who have applied to the Garcia competitions are eligible to participate. A Youtube video is required as part of the application. For more information, click here.

Teacher Workshops

Workshops for piano teachers will include interactive sessions on topics related to piano teaching by Christopher Guzman and Timothy Shafer. Topics will range from strategies and repertoire for intermediate students to preparing high school seniors for collegiate audition and competitions. These workshops are offered FREE OF CHARGE, but registration is required. For more information, click here.


Thursday, October 27

Friday, October 28

  • 11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. "Intermediate Repertoire of Franz Liszt" presented by Dr. Timothy Shafer (Esber Recital Hall). The intermediate music of Franz Liszt? Is there such a thing? Although not specifically writing for students, Liszt composed many excellent works across his compositional span that are accessible at earlier levels than most of us suspect. We will investigate this wealth of repertoire that helps students become acquainted with the giant of the piano.
  • 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Christopher Guzman masterclass (Esber Recital Hall)
  • 3:00 -5:00 p.m. Anton Nel masterclass for Penn State students (Esber Recital Hall)
  • 5:00 p.m. Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 p.m. Pianist Seong-Jin Cho with the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37). The orchestra's program also includes Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Polish Melodies Op. 47, No. 2, and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68. Concert produced by the Classical Music Project of Penn State's Center for the Performing Arts.

Saturday, October 29

  • 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Collegiate Competition (Esber Recital Hall)
  • 10:00 -11:30 a.m. Anton Nel masterclass (122 Music Building II)
  • 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. "The Art of Fugue: Beyond Compositional Mastery" presented by Dr. Kristin Stephenson (122 Music Building II). This lecture recital presents the profound impact of Bach’s faith on the Art of Fugue, the epitome of his life’s work. While mystery surrounds the incompletion of the final fugue, astounding mathematical and rhetorical codes are embedded into the extant manuscript. Kristin Stephenson will discuss her own insights alongside the observations of prominent Bach scholars and will perform selected fugues.
  • 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.  Timothy  Shafer masterclass (122 Music Building II)
  • 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.  Jose Ramon Mendez masterclass (122 Music Building II)
  • 5:30 p.m.  Dinner on your own
  • 7:30 p.m.  Christopher Guzman and guest artist Anton Nel Two-piano Recital (Esber Recital Hall) - Click here for recital program.
  • Winners' Announcement will follow recital
Sunday, October 30
  • 10:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. High School Competition (Esber Recital Hall)
  • Winners' Announcement will follow the competition

Winners of the Garcia competitions:

Collegiate Division

1st Prize: Francisco Montero, Penn State, student of Jose Ramon Mendez

2nd Prize: Cecilia Kyung Sakong, Penn State, student of Christopher Guzman

Honorable Mentions: Vivien Li, Penn State, student of Jose Ramon Mendez and Ching Huei Li, Peabody Institute, student of Benjamin Pasternack

High School Division

1st Prize: Baron Cao, State College, PA, student of Dea Baba

2nd Prize: Stephanie Petinaux, Cranberry, PA, student of Marina Lupinacci

Honorable Mention: Cosmo Coen, Brooklyn, NY, student of Miyoko Lotto


Click for information regarding hotels and accommodations.

Click for directions to the School of Music at Penn State University.

Anton Nel, winner of the first prize in the 1987 Naumburg International Piano Competition at Carnegie Hall, enjoys a remarkable and multifaceted career that has taken Anton Nelhim to North and South America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa. Following an auspicious debut at the age of 12 with Beethoven’s C Major concerto after only two years of study, the Johannesburg native captured first prizes in all the major South African competitions while still in his teens, toured his native country extensively, and became a well-known radio and television personality.

A student of Adolph Hallis, Nel made his European debut in France in 1982 and, in the same year, graduated with highest distinction from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He came to the United States in 1983, attending the University of Cincinnati, where he pursued his master’s and doctorate degrees under Bela Siki and Frank Weinstock. In addition to garnering many awards from his alma mater during this three-year period, he was a prize winner at the 1984 Leeds International Piano Competition in England and won several first prizes at the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition in Palm Desert in 1986.

Nel’s active repertoire includes more than 100 works for piano and orchestra. Highlights of his nearly four decades of concertizing include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the symphonies of Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, and London, among many others. An acclaimed Beethoven interpreter, Nel has performed the concerto cycle several times, most notably on two consecutive evenings with the Cape Philharmonic in 2005. Additionally, he has performed all-Beethoven solo recitals, the complete cycles of the Beethoven violin and cello works and, most recently, a highly successful run of the Diabelli Variations as part of Moises Kaufman’s play 33 Variations.

He was chosen to give the North American premiere of the newly discovered Piano Concerto No. 3 in E Minor by Felix Mendelssohn in 1992. Two noteworthy world premieres of works by living composers include Virtuoso Alice by David Del Tredici (dedicated to, and performed by Nel at his Lincoln Center debut in 1988) as well as Stephen Paulus' piano concerto, also written for  Nel. The acclaimed world premiere took place in New York in 2003.

As recitalist, he has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection in New York, at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Davies Hall in San Francisco, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Internationally, he has performed recitals in major concert halls in Canada, England (Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls in London), France, Holland (Concertgebouw in Amsterdam), Japan (Suntory Hall in Tokyo), Korea, and South Africa.

A favorite at summer festivals, he has performed at  Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as at the music festivals of Aspen and Ravinia (where he is on the artist-faculties), Vancouver, Cartagena, and Stellenbosch, among many others. Possessing an encyclopedic chamber music and vocal repertoire he has regularly collaborated with many of the world's foremost string quartets, instrumental soloists, and singers. With acclaimed violinist Sarah Chang, he completed a highly successful tour of Japan as well as appearing at a special benefit concert for Live Music Now in London, hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales.

Eager to pursue dual careers in teaching and performing, he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in his early twenties, followed by professorships at the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Michigan, where he was chairman of the piano department. In September 2000, Nel was appointed as the Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents  Professor of Piano and Chamber music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches an international class of students and now heads the Division of Keyboard Studies. Since his return. he has been the recipient of two Austin-American Statesman Critics Circle Awards, as well as the University Cooperative Society/College of Fine Arts award for extra-curricular achievement.  In 2001, he was appointed Visiting "Extraordinary" Professor at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and continues to teach masterclasses worldwide. In January 2010, he became the first holder of the new Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano at the University of Texas at Austin. During the 2015-16 season, he presented a series of 12 masterclasses in piano and chamber music at the Manhattan School of Music in New York as a visiting professor.

His recordings include four solo CDs,  several chamber music recordings (including the complete Beethoven piano and cello sonatas and variations, and the Brahms sonatas with Bion Tsang) , and works for piano and orchestra by César Franck, Gabriel Fauré, and Camille Saint-Saëns. His latest release features premiere recordings of all the works for piano and orchestra of Edward Burlingame Hill with the Austin Symphony, conducted by Peter Bay.

Anton Nel became a citizen of the United States of America on September 11, 2003. He is a Steinway artist.

chris guzmanPianist Christopher Guzman regularly performs for audiences throughout North America, Europe and Asia, as soloist and chamber musician. He is a multiple prizewinner in many international competitions, including the Walter M. Naumburg Competition, the Seoul International Music Competition, and the Isang Yun Competition of South Korea. Recently, he garnered the grand prize and several special prizes at the 10th Concours International de Piano d’Orléans of Orléans, France. As a result, he regularly travels to France to perform in Paris and throughout the Loire Valley. His CD of German and Austrian music from the past one hundred years, Vienne et après, was released in March 2014 on the Tessitures label.

Guzman’s career has brought him to such venues as Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Kennedy Center, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, and others. He performs regularly with some of the world’s most exciting soloists including Ilya Gringolts, Antoine Tamestit, David Fray, and Jeremy Denk, among others. He continually performs with members of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2013, he was a guest artist on the New York Philharmonic’s chamber music series “Philharmonic Ensembles.”

His performances showcase a broad range of styles, from Baroque to the avant-garde. He continues to collaborate with many of the nation’s preeminent new music ensembles; his performances have included world premieres by Donald Martino, Nico Muhly, and Paul Schoenfield. The New York Times hailed his performance of Christopher Theofanidis’s Statues as “coiled” and “explosive.”   

Born in Texas, Christopher Guzman began studying piano at age nine and violoncello two years later. He worked primarily with Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald at the Juilliard School, Anton Nel at the University of Texas at Austin, and the late Patricia Zander at the New England Conservatory. He is an assistant professor at Penn State.

Described as “an artist with a polished sound and tremendous constructive power” and hailed by the Hoja del Lunes de Madrid, as “the Spanish pianist of his jose mendezgeneration,” Jose Ramon Mendez is one of the most exciting Spanish pianists on the concert scene today.

Mendez received his first music instruction from his father, and by the age of seven was already performing on Spanish television and radio stations. He first gained international recognition when he performed Liszt’s first piano concerto under the direction of Sergiu Commissiona at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Since then, he has concertized extensively in his native Spain, the United States, Italy, England, Portugal, Holland, and Japan to great acclaim. With his poetic performance expression, intellect, and masterful technique, he has been praised by critics and celebrated by audiences around the world.

At the age of 18, Mendez’s success brought him to the United States, where he began his studies with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music. He also completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree there under the tutelage of legendary pianist Byron Janis, a pupil of Vladimir Horowitz and Miyoko Lotto. While a student, he won top prizes in the Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition, the Hilton Head Island International Piano Competition, the Frederick Chopin Competition in New York, and the Hermanos Guerrero International Piano Competition, among others.

Mendez has been a guest performer at many music festivals, including the Caramoor Festival, the Barge Music Series, the Festival Internacional de Piano de las Islas Canarias, and the Santander International Music Festival, to name a few. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Karl Leister, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Tree, and Pinchas Zukerman.

His professional teaching career began in 1996, when he was invited to teach masterclasses at the Gijon School of Music. He gave masterclasses at the Lugo Professional Conservatory of Music in 1999 and, most recently, at the Aviles Conservatory and the Santiago Conservatory. He has also taught during the summers at the Perlman Music Program, a program for gifted young musicians founded by Itzhak Perlman. He previously held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin and at New York University's Steinhardt School. During the summers, Mendez serves as executive director of the Stony Brook International Piano Festival and is also co-director of the Gijon International Piano Festival in Gijon, Spain. Jose Ramon Mendez is a Yamaha Artist.

tim shaferTimothy Shafer has concertized extensively throughout the United States, performing, teaching, and discussing the rich heritage of piano repertoire. He is the recipient of Oberlin Conservatory’s “Rudolf Serkin Outstanding Pianist Award,” Indiana University School of Music’s annual Concerto Competition, and the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association “Teacher of the Year” award.

Shafer has appeared both as a soloist and a chamber musician in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, maintains an active solo recital and chamber music schedule in the United States, and is a frequent soloist with regional orchestras, having appeared in more than 40 concerto performances in his career. As a member of Duo Concertant with violinist James Lyon he has recorded “Outstanding in Our Field,” a CD featuring works for piano and violin by Strauss, Debussy, and Stravinsky. He appears frequently in recital with his daughter, soprano Sarah Shafer.

As professor of piano at Penn State, he has concertized, taught, and adjudicated in South America and Asia. He is also well-known as a frequent masterclass clinician and competition adjudicator throughout the country for professional music organizations and colleges.

Shafer is the co-author of Class Piano for Adult Beginners, published by Prentice-Hall, and his articles on piano teaching and repertoire have appeared in the Piano Pedagogy Forum, the American Music Teacher, and in both volumes of The Pianist’s Craft. Shafer served for many years as the national chair of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy's Student Committee. Currently, he is serving as the senior music consultant for the psalter-hymnal project of the joint committees of the United Reformed Church of North America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church denominations. The volume is slated for publication in 2017. Shafer earned degrees in piano performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Kristin Stephenson has won numerous awards, including first prize in the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington, D.C. She recently completed her D.M.A. in piano performance at Penn State, where she studied with Christopher Guzman and was a recipient of a University Graduate Fellowship. Kristin Stephenson

Ms. Stephenson earned her undergraduate degree at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Robert McDonald and Yoheved Kaplinsky. Upon graduating, she resumed studies in performance and pedagogy with her lifetime instructor and mentor, Julia Bernstein. She studies the Taubman approach with Robert Durso of the Golandsky Institute.

A native of Concord, New Hampshire, Ms. Stephenson performs recitals regularly in the Northeast. She has served as a frequent adjudicator and performed in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and in Spain and Germany. She enjoys presenting on performance-related topics, including J.S. Bach’s Little Preludes, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and Turina’s Five Gypsy Dances, Op. 55, among others. An avid church pianist, she hones her skills in accompanying and improvising on traditional church hymns.

Ms. Stephenson maintains a private teaching studio in State College and serves on the adjunct faculty at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. Her students have won prizes at the Steinway Society of Massachusetts Piano Competition, Connecticut International Young Artist Competition, Granite State Auditions, Duquesne Young Artist National Competition, and Music Teachers National Association State Competitions.