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Takeshi Nagayasu takes first prize at PianoSummer competition, earns debut recital at Carnegie Hall

2018 Jacob Flier Piano Competition winner Takeshi Nagayasu performs alongside PianoSummer Artistic Director Vladimir Feltsman

PianoSummer at New Paltz has awarded Takeshi Nagayasu of Japan the top prize in the 20th annual Jacob Flier Piano Competition.

Nagayasu becomes the second PianoSummer at New Paltz competitor to earn the right to a debut solo piano recital at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, after this new reward for first place winners was added to the Jacob Flier Piano Competition in 2017. He will also return to SUNY New Paltz to give a performance as part of the 2018-19 Department of Music Concert Series.

Second place honors in this year’s Flier Competition went to Rixiang Huang of China, and Hao Tian, also from China, took third prize for the second consecutive year.

Nagayasu, Huang and Tian will each perform at the Jacob Flier Piano Competition Gala on the SUNY New Paltz campus in summer 2019.

The 2018 Gala, featuring last year’s Flier Competition winners, will be held on Friday, July 27, and is open to the public. Please use this link for program and ticketing information.

From left: 2018 Jacob Flier Piano Competition winners Hao Tian (third place), Rixiang Huang (second place) and Takeshi Nagayasu (first place)

Nagayasu, 19, was previously enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi and was granted a fellowship with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Nagayasu is transferring to the Juilliard School this fall to study with Matti Raekallio.

This was Nagayasu’s first time at PianoSummer, which he described as more intensive and offering more valuable lessons than other festivals he’s attended. Despite winning the Jacob Flier competition, he said the experience has driven him to practice more and do even better.

Tian praised Nagayasu’s performance as “fantastic” and said hearing him play was his favorite part of the competition.

Huang, 23, has performed in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, England White Rock Theatre and Indonesia Aula Sinfonia Jakarta. He has also appeared as a guest soloist with orchestras around the world, and has earned top prizes in several international competitions. This was his first time at PianoSummer.

PianoSummer is “very intensive,” Huang said. “You have lessons every day and you have to push yourself very hard. It feels restless, in a good way.”

Tian, 16, is a repeat PianoSummer at New Paltz participant. He said this year’s PianoSummer focused more on the exploration of “What is music? What is art?” compared to last year, which he said was more structured and focused on rules and technique.

“That is very important, because everything is built on that,” said Tian.

As the third prize winner in last year’s Flier Competition, Tian will perform in the 2018 Jacob Flier Piano Competition Gala with fellow 2017 prize winners Polina Kulikova (first place) and Mackenzie Melemed (second place).

About the Jacob Flier Piano Competition
PianoSummer’s prestigious piano competition is named for Jacob Flier, the prominent Russian concert pianist and mentor to PianoSummer Artistic Director Vladimir Feltsman. The competition is open to piano students up to age 32.

PianoSummer at New Paltz is a yearly event presented by the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz.