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UWF Piano Students Receive International Recognition

October 2, 2018 | By Dayzha Holland with contributions by Brandy Gottlieb |

Hands playing piano
Five UWF students performed and competed at two international piano festivals this summer.

“The entire experience was a humbling reminder of how I will never be done learning, working, or growing as a person, as an artist, as a student, as a musician. There will always be something more to learn, a different perspective to see from, a different story to tell.” - Isabelle Areola

Isabelle Areola has been studying piano for the past 13 years. She said that her time at UWF has already given her so many opportunities, such as performing in the community, solo and ensemble performances, teaching positions and job opportunities. Today, she is a UWF music performance major and a recent competitor at the Washington International Piano Festival.  

This summer, Areola was one of five UWF students to compete and receive recognition in international piano competitions.

UWF students Meredith Stemen, Isabelle Areola and Daniel Thomas participated in the Washington International Piano Festival on July 22- 31, 2018. After auditioning, they were chosen to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Stemen advanced to the final round of the competition. The festival is Washington’s D.C.’s only piano festival. It offers an educational program with prominent piano pedagogues, competitions, workshops, master classes and a concert with recognized pianists.

Daniel Perkins and Andrew Gregg participated in the Lancaster International Piano Festival on July 13-23, 2018. Perkins and Gregg, participated in several events throughout the year and both won local competitions before attending Lancaster, this summer. Daniel Perkins, senior at Washington High School and UWF dual enrolled student, received first place at Lancaster. In the Spring of 2019, Perkins will perform a solo recital at Millersville University. He has also been invited to play a concerto with the Millersville Orchestra. Andrew Gregg, incoming freshman to UWF and dual enrolled student at UWF, won second place at Lancaster. Perkins and Gregg were the top two pianists chosen from among 18 young pianists from around the world who competed in the three-round competition.

UWF students have been competing at The Lancaster International Piano Festival for about  five years. Each year, it has included master classes, a competition, guest recitals and a concert presented by world-class pianists.

Dr. Hedi Salanki-Rubardt, UWF professor of music and a member of the festival faulty, has served as the students’ faculty mentor for the Lancaster International Piano Festival and Competition and the Washington International Piano Festival and Competition. Salanki-Rubardt is a UWF Distinguished University Professor and director of Chamber Music, Piano Program and Harpsichord.


“International events, such as the Lancaster and the Washington International Piano Festival and Competition, allow young pianists to learn from other advanced pianists from all over the world,” says Salanki-Rubardt. With the help of these events, pianists can make connections with other distinguished professors and performers.


Salanki-Rubardt, states that these competitions allow UWF to receive great recognition, for not only the university, but the Music Department and UWF professors.

For more information on the UWF Department of Music, or to give, visit online.  Follow the UWF Center for Performing Arts on Facebook at @UWFCFPA or on Instagram at @UWFCFPA.