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Marian Garcia International Piano Competition and Festival 2018

November 15-18, 2018

Welcome to the Marian Garcia International Piano Competition and Festival page! Hosted by the Penn State School of Music's piano faculty, this year's event includes competitions and masterclasses for collegiate and high school pianists, and we also welcome the return of the Piano Teachers Workshops that include dynamic sessions for piano teachers looking to strengthen their knowledge of particular topics. The festival was created through a generous grant from Edith Garcia, mother of local physician Dr. Marian Garcia.

We are excited that this year’s event will take place in our brand new Recital Hall (opening October 15, 2018) and will make use of our two beautiful new Hamburg Steinways. Competitions and recitals will take place in the new hall using these exquisite instruments.

High School Competition

The high school competition will be held on Sunday, November 18, 2018. 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 15Click here for details and application information.

Collegiate Competition

The collegiate competition will be held on Saturday, November 17, 2018. 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 $750. The application deadline is October 15Click here for details and application information.

Masterclass Participation

On Thursday evening, November 15 and Friday, November 16, there will be opportunities for high school and collegiate pianists to participate in masterclasses with guest pianist Eric Huebner, as well as Penn State faculty members Christopher GuzmanKristin Stephenson, and Timothy Shafer. Students who have applied to the Garcia competitions are eligible to participate. Please check the appropriate box on the application form and list your repertoire if you would like to be considered for the masterclass.

Piano Teacher Workshops

Piano teachers are welcome to attend all facets of the festival, including the competitions, masterclasses by various artists, the featured recital, and workshops by Penn State piano faculty. The festival is free to teachers and no registration is required.


Thursday, November 15

  • 7:30 p.m.  Masterclass with Eric Huebner, featuring Penn State students

Friday, November 16

Saturday, November 17

  • 9:00-7:00 p.m.  Collegiate Competition
  • 10:30-12:00 Piano Teachers Workshop with Kristin Stephenson
    Songs Without Words: Searching for Meaning in the Piano Score —  How specifically can a wordless score speak?  This workshop will explore examples of scores that include a text as clues to interpreting piano music without an accompanying text.
  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch
  • 1:30-3:00 p.m. Piano Teachers Workshop with Steven Smith
    Piano Schools and Schools of Thought —  Dr. Smith will discuss some of the historic trends in piano teaching and the schools and conservatories where they developed. He’ll concentrate especially on teachings of Tobias Matthay, the great Victorian-age British artist-teacher, and modern trends of comparable impact.
  • 3:00-4:30 p.m. Piano Teachers Workshop with Timothy Shafer
    Intermediate Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries — Repertoire from a wide variety of great composers and cultures from the last 100 years will serve as our entry into a wealth of compositional techniques that, once understood, help students and listeners alike appreciate the genius that is still among us. Helping students understand the sounds of modernism is critical for the survival of literary art music.  
  • 5:00-6:30 p.m.  High School Masterclass with Kristin Stephenson 

Sunday, November 18

  • 10:00-1:00 High School Competition

Click for information regarding hotels and accommodations.

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



Pianist Eric Huebner has drawn worldwide acclaim for his performances of new and traditional music since making his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age 17. In January 2012, he was appointed pianist of the New York Philharmonic and currently holds the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Piano Chair. He has been featured in orchestral works by Lindberg, Stravinsky, Ives, Milhaud, Carter and R. Strauss among others and regularly appears in chamber music performances with musicians from the Philharmonic at New York City's Merkin Hall and elsewhere. In March 2016, he was featured in recital as part of the New York Philharmonic's "Messiaen Week" - a series of concerts featuring the work of the late French composer. Huebner has collaborated with the conductor David Robertson in performances of György Ligeti’s Piano Concerto, Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques and on the American premiere with percussionist Colin Currie of Elliott Carter's Two Controversies and a Conversation for piano, percussion and chamber ensemble. Recent solo recitals have featured the piano études of the late Hungarian composer György Ligeti and include appearances on the St. Louis Symphony's Pulitzer Arts Foundation Gallery series, Bowling Green State University, the University of Michigan and the University of California San Diego. From 2001 through 2012, Huebner was a member of Antares, a quartet comprised of clarinet, violin, cello and piano. First prize winners of the 2002 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, Antares appeared regularly in major chamber music venues throughout the United States and worked closely with many composers on the commissioning of new works for its combination.

A passionate interpreter of the music of our time, Huebner has premiered countless new works, including a recent set of piano études by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Roger Reynolds. Huebner has been involved with the New York Philharmonic's CONTACT! series since its inception and is a member of the orchestra's Contemporary Music Ensemble Committee. A regular visitor to the west coast, Huebner has twice been a featured recitalist at the Ojai Festival in California, has performed on the Monday Evening series in Los Angeles, the Carlsbad Music Festival, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and made recital appearances at Zipper Hall, Villa Aurora and the Italian Consulate. In New York City, he has appeared as soloist and chamber musician in Carnegie’s Zankel and Weill Recital Hall, Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, (le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette and Subculture. Additionally, he has appeared with numerous NYC-based contemporary music ensembles, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea, New York New Music Ensemble, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Manhattan Sinfonietta, So Percussion and the American Modern Ensemble.
A devoted teacher as well as performer, Mr. Huebner is an Associate Professor of Music at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) where he maintains a studio of graduate and undergraduate piano majors and minors and teaches courses in 20th century piano music and piano literature. For several summers he was in residence at the Walden School, a program for young musicians that takes place each summer in Dublin, New Hampshire. Since the fall of 2014, he has been a member of the adjunct faculty of The Juilliard School where he teaches a course in orchestral keyboard performance.
Mr. Huebner’s performances have been broadcast on PBS and NPR, and on radio stations KMOZ (Los Angeles), WNYC (New York), Radio Bremen (Germany), ORF (Austria) and the BBC. He has recorded for Col Legno, Centaur, Bridge, Albany, Tzadik, Innova, New Focus Recordings and Mode Records. A recent solo release on New Focus Recordings features Huebner in works by Schumann, Carter and Stravinsky. Mr. Huebner holds a B.M. and M.M. from The Juilliard School where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal. He lives in Buffalo and New York City and is married to composer Caroline Mallonée.


Pianist 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 associate professor at Penn State.

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 recently completed a CD recording of hymns with colleague Lisa Bontrager, horn, and daughters Grace Salyards, horn, and Sarah Shafer, soprano. 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. He recently completed a ten-year service as the senior music consultant for the psalter-hymnal project of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church denominations. The volume was published in the summer of 2017 and is approaching sales of 40,000 copies. Shafer earned degrees in piano performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

stephensonKristin Stephenson has won numerous awards, including first prize in the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington, D.C.  She has performed in Spain and Germany and appeared in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and in numerous concerts throughout the Northeast. She frequently serves as an adjudicator and presents on music literature such as Bach’s Art of Fugue and Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. An avid church pianist, she hones her skills in accompanying and improvising on traditional church hymns.
Stephenson has studied with Robert McDonald at the Juilliard School, Christopher Guzman at Penn State, and faculty of the Golandsky Institute.  She was the recipient of a University Graduate Fellowship at Penn State.
Stephenson has taught on the faculties of Lycoming College and Bucknell University. 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.