Feb. 13, 2013/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu


Plays well with others:

Collaborative pianist is guest artist at UNCSA

WINSTON-SALEM – What goes around comes around and around again, at least for collaborative pianists Anne Epperson and Allison Gagnon. Epperson, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, had her first teaching appointment at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). She later taught at Cleveland Institute of Music, where Gagnon, now a faculty-artist at UNCSA’s School of Music, was one of her post-graduate students.

Epperson returns to UNCSA this month as guest artist, hosted by Gagnon.

Her schedule includes a master class with collaborative piano duo projects from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Crawford Hall; a master class with piano chamber music groups from 3:45-5:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, in Watson Hall; and a conversation on professional topics from 3:45-5:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, in Crawford. All events are open to the public.

Music Dean Wade Weast said the pianists’ professional relationship is not a unique pattern among musicians. “It’s a perfect illustration of the mentor-mentee relationship that develops here at UNCSA, and throughout the profession,” he said.

“Our faculty-artists work very closely with their students, and they continue to promote the students’ careers, to follow their progress, and to celebrate their success,” he added. “As a professional musician, you are likely to cross paths many times with your instructors and mentors.”

Gagnon arrived at UNCSA in 1998, fresh from her studies with Epperson, and founded the collaborative piano program, a specialized discipline that emphasizes the partnership between a pianist and vocalist or instrumentalist.

“Collaborative piano training focuses on both the skill set the profession demands, and the vast repertoire of music for piano in combination with instruments and voice. ‘Plays well with others’ is a slogan that suits our collaborative spirit,” Gagnon explained.

“Having Anne Epperson with us for this residency will give our students – both our piano students and their musical partners – an opportunity to work with one of the musical leaders of our time,” she added.  “Anne has created an entire vocabulary of collaborative instruction, and she has a remarkable breadth of knowledge and expertise. Her time with us is guaranteed to be inspiring.”

Pianist Anne Epperson enjoys a distinguished career as a performer, recording artist, teacher and clinician. She made her debut at age twelve with the New Orleans Philharmonic under Alexander Hilsberg. After studies at Louisiana State University and the Juilliard School, she entered graduate school at the University of Southern California and was appointed staff pianist for the master classes of Jascha Heifetz. This auspicious beginning led to a successful career as a collaborative partner.

Epperson has appeared in concert with distinguished artists throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Scandinavia, Taiwan and Korea. Critics have praised her collaborative artistry: New York Times "..an excellent partner…technical ability and musicality admirably displayed…"; Seattle Times "….extraordinarily sensitive and well-realized work…..a gifted accompanist…"; Los Angeles Times "…eloquent support.."; Cleveland Plain Dealer "…Epperson is a chamber music pianist with few peers…."

From 1980-89 she toured the U.S. as pianist with the Canterbury Trio, under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management, Inc. She has recorded for Vanguard, Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch, Centaur, Koch International and Claves and has produced and edited recordings for Nonesuch and Azica.

Her career as an educator is equally impressive. In the fall of 2008 she inaugurated the new Collaborative Piano Department at the University of Texas at Austin's Butler School of Music. From 2004-2008 she was Professor of Collaborative Piano at the University of Colorado at Boulder's College of Music, where she created and developed a new graduate degree program. She was Professor of Music and Director of Collaborative Arts at the University of California – Santa Barbara from 2001 – 2004 and from 1985 – 2001 she was head of the Collaborative Piano Department (a department and degree program that she created) at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Previous faculty positions include teaching appointments at the University of Illinois and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

She has been juror for many prestigious competitions, including the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation competitions, the Fischoff, Coleman and Plowman Chamber Music competitions, the New Orleans International Piano Competition, the Corpus Christi International Young Artists Competition and the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards. Epperson has been a panelist, lecturer, performer and master class presenter for the Music Teachers National Association, National Conference on Piano Pedagogy, the Colorado Music Teachers Association, the Indiana Music Teachers Association, the South Carolina Music Teachers Association, the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association and the Vocal Arts Resource Network in Ohio. In the spring of 2005, she presented a week-long series of master classes in Seoul, Korea. She is active as a consultant and advisor in the development of collaborative piano programs nationally and internationally.

Epperson was on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara from 1992-2006, teaching, performing and administering the collaborative piano program she designed. Since the summer of 2007, she has been a member of the artist faculty at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival in Colorado Springs.

She has been a guest performer and coach at the Sarasota Music Festival, the International Festival–Institute at Round Top, the Garth Newel Summer Festival, the Taos Chamber Music Festival, the Scotia Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Meadowmount School for Strings. She will be the guest teacher/coordinator of the collaborative program at the Aspen Music Festival in the summer of 2013.

Allison Gagnon directs the Collaborative Piano Program at UNCSA, where she created the graduate program in collaborative piano and developed the school’s collaborative skills courses for students concentrating in piano.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, the Konzertdiplom from the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, Austria, a master’s degree in piano accompaniment from McGill University in Montreal, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Cleveland Institute of Music.

Acclaimed for her performances with both instrumental and vocal colleagues, Gagnon has appeared in recital in Europe and throughout Canada and the United States, and has performed as a competition pianist for prize-winners in Canada and the U.S. Her performances have been recorded for broadcast on both the English and French networks of the CBC in Canada, and for NPR, as well as on CD.

She has given master classes across the US, as well as in Canada and Norway, and related presentations entitled Knowing the Score and Pianists or Plug-Ins? Her edition of the piano reduction for Ernest Chausson’s Poème, op.25 for Violin and Orchestra was published in 2009, and her CD recording with UNCSA colleague Judith Saxton was distributed globally by the International Trumpet Guild in 2011.

Gagnon’s students have gone on to professional work in Canada, South Korea, and across the U.S., winning staff/faculty positions in New York, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. In 2012, two of her students were awarded Lincoln Center Fellowships by UNCSA’s Kenan Institute for the Arts.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.