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Piamo Faculty
Piano Faculty: Karen Beres, Allison Gagnon, Dmitri Shteinberg, Eric Larsen

Hard work key to achievements and growth

Personalized instruction - Preparation for artistic and career success
Extensive performance opportunities

The piano performance curriculum at UNCSA serves highly talented students at several educational levels. Internationally renowned guest artists supplement the curriculum with on-campus performances, lectures and master classes. The vibrant UNCSA artistic community provides an ideal setting for artistic growth in an environment where musicians, dancers, actors, designers and filmmakers live and work together. The conservatory setting and facilities of UNCSA provide opportunities for candidates to work seriously in developing technical and general musical skills. Piano faculty and the UNCSA touring office assist candidates in booking off-campus performances, obtaining employment and preparing for competitions.  UNCSA graduates have earned top prizes in a variety of national and international competitions, regularly appear on concert stages around the world, and are found as leading teachers in higher education and arts institutions worldwide.

An annual Piano Weekend for prospective students includes a tour of UNCSA facilities, a recital by UNCSA piano students, master classes and private lessons by artist-faculty members Eric Larsen and Dmitri Shteinberg, as well as a collaborative piano demonstration with artist-faculty Allison Gagnon. In addition, there will be a special concert and master class by an invited guest artist. Recent piano weekends have featured the distinguished pianists and teachers Claude Frank, Menahem Pressler and Jon Nakamatsu.


Professional Artist Certificate Program

This post-master’s degree, Professional Artist Certificate program is organized around a one-year independent study project proposed by the student as part of the student's application and approved by the student's studio teacher and the graduate committee. The project would be documented and presented by the student to a jury for graduation approval.

quote markThe University of North Carolina School of the Arts has something in common with the best American and European conservatories of music: it expects the students to work hard in order to achieve great results and trusts in the talent of all its students. At the same time, UNCSA has something completely different from all the other great schools: a very friendly atmosphere that affects not only teachers and students, but everyone involved with the school to help make it better. I think these are some of the reasons my piano classmates came to the school from all over the world (Japan, Korea, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria...) and these are also the reasons for which so many of them today have good careers as performers and teachers. quote markLast but not least, that's why we are still good friends!                


-- Andrea Padova, First Prize, "J.S. Bach" International Competition (Saarbrucken). Professor of Piano, Conservatory of Music, Lecce, Italy. Recording Artist: Datum, Eco, Saarlaendischer Rundfunk.  CD Classica Magazine's Critics' Choice:  "Best of 1997" for his recording of the complete Bach Fantasias


The graduate program represents the piano department at its highest level of artistry and education. Its goals and objectives are to prepare and train students for careers as professional classical musicians. The course of study includes individual performance instruction, a weekly two-hour performance class to develop student confidence and skill before an audience, ensemble performance, courses in career enhancement strategies, history and analysis, as well as ample opportunity for intensive individual work on repertoire and the preparation of two required recitals.

As a conservatory, the school’s focus is on preparing students to begin their careers as performing artists; at the same time, the school actively involves the student with the practical aspects of earning a living as a musician. A combination of professional opportunities outside the school, along with this specially designed curriculum, widens the scope of the student’s career perspectives and constitutes a contemporary, market-sensitive approach to educating musicians.

UNCSA offers a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano.  Under the direction of Dr. Allison Gagnon, it draws upon a wealth of resources. Our staff of professional accompanists, our esteemed instrumental faculty and the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute combine to make this a very special program.

quote markBeing at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts as a student was quite an amazing experience. I was coming here from Russia and didn't really know what to expect, I knew that I would be extremely happy with Eric Larsen, but didn't know what the school would be like. It truly exceeded my expectations: Everybody was so warm and ready to help in any way possible. … Our studio had students from at least five different countries every year. We always felt like we were one big family, and my best friend from those years is actually still my best friend, 18 years later. There were only 26 piano students, so no one had to search for a practice room. I certainly missed that while working on my master’s degree in the Manhattan School of Music. There were always plenty of opportunities to perform and the community of Winston-Salem was one of the most supportive communities I have ever known. I often think of those wonderful years as some kind of fairy quote marktale. Of course you only realize that it is a fairy tale after you graduate...

- Dmitri Vorobiev, First Prize, Casagrande International Competition; First Prize, UNISA-Pretoria, South Africa International Competition;  Third Prize, Busoni International Competition; First Prize, Louisiana International Competition.  Recital and orchestral engagements in South Africa, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Israel and throughout the United States. Recordings for BMG; Assistant Professor of Piano, University of Northern Iowa.


The four-year curriculum is a fully accredited program that includes a broad array of academic courses in addition to a rigorous professional education in music. The intensive music curriculum provides comprehensive training in piano performance, music history, piano literature and pedagogy, piano chamber music and vocal literature, and a Career Development Seminar. Graduation requirements include a minimum of one full solo recital plus three years of chamber music or collaborative piano. Students address a wide range of material designed to develop artistic, technical, sight-reading, ensemble and performance ability. Weekly private lessons plus a weekly two-hour performance class develop student confidence and skill before an audience. The course in pedagogy deals with teaching skills, as well as running a teaching business.

Piano faculty and the UNCSA touring office assist candidates in booking off-campus performances, obtaining employment and preparing for competitions. UNCSA graduates have earned top prizes in a variety of national and international competitions, regularly appear on concert stages around the world, and are found as leading teachers in higher education and arts institutions nationwide.

quote markThe hardest but most rewarding sacrifice that my parents ever made was to allow me to leave our home in Spain at age 14 in order to study at the UNCSA. Today, my family and I remember my departure with pride, and we realize that this choice was very much worth what we had to give up. At the School of the Arts, I was able to develop both as a person and as a musician.  Guided with the care and attention of a very dedicated teacher, I could experience the school's high artistic level, its solid work ethic, its exceptional facilities, and its quality education.  All of these things motivated me to absorb everything that school had and still has to offer.  I am especially grateful for the deep friendships that I forged there. The School of the Arts will always have a very special quote markplace in my heart.  Even today, I often wish that I were back there again.

 -- Oriol Plans, Adjunct Professor of Piano, Hochschule für Musik, Leipzig, Germany; Founder and Director of Lycée Liepzig.

High School 

The UNCSA program for high school-age musicians is a unique educational experience. Not only are graduates among the most accomplished performers in their age group, they also excel academically thanks to UNCSA's small class size, dedicated teachers, and superior curriculum. In fact, UNCSA students consistently score among the highest SAT scores of any high school in North Carolina and are among the top scorers in the United States. The High School Diploma with a Concentration in Music is a fully accredited program that includes courses in English, social studies, mathematics, science, health and physical education, along with music courses tailored to each student's needs.

In addition to academics, piano students enroll in private piano lessons, piano performance class, music theory, ear training, keyboard, collaborative piano and additional arts electives. The curriculum emphasizes development of the fundamental artistic and technical skills that ensure unlimited future growth. Although we seek out the top students from around the world, students with limited experience but extraordinary potential are admitted. Students receive a weekly private lesson in addition to a weekly two-hour performance class to develop student confidence and skill before an audience. On-campus housing is available for students in grades 9-12.

quote markI attended the very first summer session at UNCSA in 1967 when I was 11 years old. The campus was still in its original, embryonic layout, a few buildings punctuating the green lawns and thick stands of trees. I returned for the following three summers at which point my parents yielded to my entreaties to attend the full-year session through high school. Well I remember the bliss of throwing my luggage upon the bed in Moore Dorm (Composer and current faculty member Kenneth Frazelle was to be my roommate and best friend!), saying good-bye to family with utter delight, and becoming part of the artistic and social fabric of a student body that was sympathetic to my own interests. UNCSA was still a small school in 1971-74 but grand in spirit. … We had a faculty, both permanent and guest, that set a remarkable example. They urged us on and demanded our best. I went on to attend the Curtis Institute of Music after high school. I found myself at a great advantage having had all those previous years of working with other musicians. Additionally, my general education and grasp of theatre, opera, dance, and stagecraft were leagues beyond my Curtis peers. Indeed, I was an "old-timer" when it came to so many of the roads salient to life as a musician among musicians. For this I have always been grateful. There was no other place aside from UNCSA where I could have found sympathetic and enthusiastic friends and colleagues at such a young age; no other place where I could expand my knowledge and associations among the many branches of performing arts, and quote markbegin to test them out in a milieu of critical but encouraging teachers and peers.

 -- Darrell Rosenbluth, Concert artist, pianist-in-residence for Philadelphia Composers' Forum. Director of Music for Fourth Universalist Society on Central Park West. Music critic for the New York Concert Review. Board member, Leschetizky Association. 

Here in the piano program we expect you to work hard in order to achieve great results.  We trust in the talent of all our students. Graduates of the UNCSA high school piano program have been accepted at leading music schools and universities.


The intensive UNCSA summer session provides an ideal opportunity for students to explore their talent and to be a part of the extraordinary UNCSA arts community.

Additional summer opportunities for students to study with UNCSA artist-faculty member Eric Larsen include the seven-week Piano Program at the legendary Meadowmount School of Music in Westport, N.Y., or a two-week Master Class course at the Lycee Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany.  In addition to his UNCSA summer session classes, Clifton Matthews teaches a two-week Master Class course at the Académie de Musique Tibor Varga in Sion, Switzerland.

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