Piano Faculty 

INNA FALIKS

“Adventurous and passionate” ( The New Yorker) Ukrainian-born pianist Inna Faliks  has established herself as one of the most exciting, committed, communicative and poetic artists of her generation. Faliks is Head of Piano and Professor of Piano at UCLA. Renowned for her versatility, Faliks is equally at home in the great concerti, standard solo repertoire, chamber music,  interdisciplinary projects and work with contemporary composers. After her acclaimed debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she has performed on many of the world’s great stages, with numerous orchestras, in solo appearances, and with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Keith Lockhart. Critics praise her “signature blend of lithe grace and raw power“ (Lucid Culture), “courage to take risks, expressive intensity and technical perfection” (General Anzeiger, Bonn), “poetry and panoramic vision” (Washington Post), and “riveting passion, playfulness” (Baltimore Sun). Her lauded discography includes a recent all- Beethoven release, “Sound of Verse –  music of Boris Pasternak, Ravel, and Rachmaninoff” – both on MSR Classics,  and a Disklavier recital recording for Yamaha. Upcoming recordings include  “Polonaise-Fantasie, story of a pianist” theater-piano piece,  and her Music/Words new commissions CD.

Faliks’s distinguished career has taken her to numerous recitals and concerti in prestigious venues in the US, Europe and Asia. Winner of many competitions, including the ProMusicis International Award, she has been featured on radio and international television broadcasts, and has performed in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Concert Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris’ Salle Cortot, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, LA’s Zipper Hall,  in Festival Internacional de Mexico, Portland Piano International,  Music in the Mountains, Verbier Festival,  Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, Fazioli Series in Italy, Tel Aviv Museum in Israel. She is consistently engaged as concerto soloist with orchestras throughout the US. Recent  highlights include a tour of China in all of its major halls, including Beijing CPA, Shanghai Oriental Arts Theater and Tianjin Grand Theater, many concerti including Rachmaninoff 2 with Greensboro Symphony Festival, Prokofiev 1 and 3 at Peninsula Festival, Clara Schumann Concerto at Wintergren Festival,  and numerous return engagements – at Minnesota Sinfonia, Newport Festival, Bargemusic, Broad Stage Santa Monica, and more.

An artist as committed to genre-bending and new music as she is to the core repertoire, Faliks is currently presenting Reimagine: Ravel and Beethoven, commissioning today’s leading composers such as Timo Andres, Richard Danielpour, Billy Chilrds and Paola Prestini to create responses to pieces of Ravel and Beethoven. She premiered 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg – variations by contemporary composers on Bach’s Aria,  She has performed and recorded the unknown piano works of Russian poet Boris Pasternak, appeared in theatrical productions such as “Admission: One Shilling” with Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol, collaborated with the modern dance troupe Bodytraffic, and  has premiered new works by many contemporary composers, including  Ljova, Clarice Assad, Jan Freidlin, Sean Hickey, Tania Leon, and others.   Faliks  is the founder and curator of Music/Words , a series that pairs together live performances with readings by established contemporary poets. The series has been heard and seen nation-wide for 8 seasons, live and on radio.  www.musicwordsnyc.com

Faliks is in demand as an Artist teacher, and is frequently invited to guest residencies at leading conservatories, festivals and universities internationally. Her own teachers included Leon Fleisher, Boris Petrushansky, Gilbert Kalish, Ann Schein and Emilio del Rosario.

CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL

CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL conducts two orchestras in Southern California: the Azusa Pacific University (APU) Symphony and the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Symphony Orchestra.  He is Associate Professor at APU’s College of Music and the Arts, head of the orchestral conducting area and Chair of the Music Performance Department.  The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique”.   He received his bachelors degree from California State University and his masters degree in conducting from Indiana University.

 

Recent guest conducting appearances include the MasterWorks Festival in Ohio and Indiana, the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil, the International Orchestra Festival and the Yellow River Symphony in Zhengzhou, China,.  He has also conducted orchestras at Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, London’s Central Hall and the Glass Hall of Vienna’s Musikverein.  In 2017 and 2018, he was a judge in the final round of the Hong Kong International Music Festival.  Also in 2018, he presented lectures at the openings of two new theaters in China: the Florence Culture and Arts Exchange Center in Dalian and the Sound of the Phoenix Theater in Qingdao.

 

Russell has conducted numerous premieres, including the first U.S. performances of works by Tansy Davies, Brett Dean, Jonathan Harvey, Anders Hillborg, Tristan Keuris, Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, Kaija Saariaho and Éric Tanguy.  Premiere highlights include conducting the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Stockholm Diary for string orchestra with the APU Symphony Orchestra and the world and European premieres of the orchestral version of Michael Daugherty’s Lost Vegas. 

 

Russell’s musical interest also extends to performing rarely-heard older music including the U.S. or California premieres of many works from the early and mid-20th century.  An advocate for conducting American music abroad, he conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ 2nd Symphony.   Russell conducted the world premiere of the Symphony in A composed in 1878 by Leopold Damrosch with the APU Symphony.  They recorded an all-Damrosch disc which was internationally released on the British record label Toccata Classics.

 

The “American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers” has awarded him their prestigious Award for Programming of Contemporary Music for youth orchestras on ten occasions.  Seven of those times, he was awarded first place in the United States.

 

Russell is a regular pre-concert lecturer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall.  For them, he has interviewed some of the most important classical musicians of our time including conductors Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jaap van Zweden, pianist Emanuel Ax, violinists Leila Josefowicz and Vadim Repin, and cellists Alisa Weilerstein and Li-Wei Qin.

JAMES LENT

Pianist Dr. JAMES LENT is Lecturer and Coordinator of Instrumental Collaborative Piano at UCLA in addition to serving as a coach and accompanist for vocal studies. James completed his DMA at the Yale School of Music under teachers Boris Berman, Claude Frank, and Peter Frankl. He made his Alabama Symphony debut to critical acclaim performing Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 on 24 hours' notice to replace Andre Watts.

He has performed with the Vancouver Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Shanghai Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Utah Symphony and the Florida West Coast Symphony, among others, and as solo recitalist at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, for the National Chopin Foundation in Miami, at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where he premiered a new work written for him by American composer Frederic Rzewski.

Mr. Lent has performed with the renowned Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain under the direction of Pierre Boulez in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, and his performances have been heard on National Public Radio.

His numerous awards include prizes in the New York Concert Artists Guild International Competition, the National Chopin Competition, the Washington International Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center, the Olga Koussevitsky Piano Competition in New York, and the Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition.He was a fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal.

James also teaches at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) as collaborative pianist, vocal coach, and musical director. He has also served on the summer faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. 

JOEL CLIFFT

JOEL CLIFFT earned his doctoral degree from the University of Southern California while studying with Dr. Alan Smith and Bernadene Blaha. Dr. Clifft’s primary area of study was keyboard collaborative arts, with minor fields in solo piano, music theory, and composition. He graduated Pi Kappa Lambda and was chosen as the “Most Outstanding Graduate” at both the Master’s and Doctoral levels. Dr. Clifft attended USC on a full scholarship and in addition, was a recipient of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky scholarship. 

As an active collaborative pianist, Dr. Joel Clifft has performed in concert with many world-class musicians, including violinist Midori, erhu player, Ma Xiao Hui and clarinetist, Ken Grant. He has extensive international performance experience, appearing in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Brazil, Korea, China and Singapore. He also performed a solo and collaborative program at the United Nations in New York. 

Dr. Clifft is Director of Keyboard Studies at Azusa Pacific University, where he teaches piano, music theory, accompanying and ear training courses. He is also an adjunct faculty member at USC where he teaches collaborative piano. In addition, he has served as a judge for many competitions, including MTAC and MTNA, local, regional and state competitions.  

As a software developer, Dr. Clifft created Music Theory Pro, an iPhone app for music education. The app teaches Music Theory and Ear Training using cutting-edge technology. To date, the app has received more than 120,000 downloads. In 2013 Music Theory Pro was expanded to mac computers and iPads and a second app, Jazz Chords Pro, was released during the same year. A third app, Music Theory Professor, is expected to release later this year. 

Dr. Clifft has also developed a passion for studio singing. In recent months he has provided vocals for Universal Pictures, The Paramount Group, and Dreamworks.

XIAO CHEN (Founder and Artistic Director)

Chinese-born pianist Xiao Chen is actively engaged as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S., China, and Europe, having performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Fischer Center for Performing Arts, and Shanghai Concert Hall. Her performances have been well received by many; Peninsula Reviews praised her playing as a “knock-out performance, and one we would love to hear again”, while Shanghai Youth Daily said “her energetic and breathtaking performance impressed the audience”. 

Ms. Chen is currently on faculty at Mount Saint Mary’s University, having served as Lecturer in Piano Performance at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) in 2019. Her position as pedagogue saw her founding and directing the Los Angeles Young Virtuoso International Music Festival in 2018 which took place at Azusa Pacific University. She created the festival with the objective of providing performance and educative opportunities for students from all over the world.

 

She is the prize winner of many competitions including The American Prize, Frances Walton Competition, Carmel Music Society Piano Competition, American Protege International Competition, The Muse International Competition, ‘London’ Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition, and Steinway & Sons International Youth Piano Competition China Regional Competition. As a winner of Frances Walton Competition, she played a concert tour in Washington State and performed a solo piano program on radio live broadcast concert at Classical KING FM 98.1. She also serves as jury in many music and piano competitions, including New West Symphony Piano Competition in Los Angeles, "Pearl River Keyserburg" International Youth Piano Competition, and Hainan Airline Piano Competition.

 

Ms. Chen founded and directed the Los Angeles Young Virtuoso International Music Festival in 2018 in Azusa Pacific University. She created the festival to provide performing and learning opportunities to students from all over the world.  She has recorded for Yamaha's Disklavier Educational Network and Scott Joplin Piano Works Archive. She has been invited to perform in numerous music festivals including The Morningside Bridge Summer Festival, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Pianofest Summer Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Manchester Music Festival, and Italy Perugia Music Fest. Over the years, she has worked with such renowned pianists as Gary Graffman, Seymour Lipkin, Yoheved Kaplinsky, Richard Goode, Peter Frankl, Claude Frank, Wu Han, Gloria Cheng, Ann Schein, Paul Schenly, Joseph Lin, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, and Shanghai Quartet.

 

Additionally, Ms. Chen has appeared in outreach tours. In 2017, she went to 20 schools in Washington States and performed for more than 2000 students. She also often collaborated with Education Through Music – Los Angeles and taught in different schools. In addition, as part of UCLA Gluck Ensemble, she has performed in numerous schools and senior centers in Los Angeles.

 

Ms. Chen is also an experienced teacher. She often teaches among universities in Los Angeles. She has taught piano major students at UCLA, and coached music major students in Mount Saint Mary’s University. She was invited to present a two-hour lecture on “Art of listening” in Schoenberg Hall at UCLA. In addition, she often gave talks and performances in Santa Monica Emeritus College.

Ms. Chen received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree under Inna Faliks from University of California, Los Angeles. She obtained her Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School in New York, where she studied with Jerome Lowenthal. She attended Bard College with a double major – Receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance under Melvin Chen from Bard College Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Language and Literature from Bard College.

 

In 2020, Ms. Chen released her new solo piano album with SHEVA Collection.

TONG WANG

Tong Wang currently serves as a piano lecturer in Wuhan Conservatory of Music in China. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. She is the prize winner of numerous international piano competitions, including the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition, Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, Helen Cohn award for outstanding chamber musician, and the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. She is also a full scholarship and grant recipient at Fontainebleau Music Festival and International Keyboard festival. Ms. Wang made her orchestral debut with Sussex Concert Orchestra in 2010. She has played recitals in the USA, UK, Spain, France and major cities in China. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. Her teachers include Solomon Mikowsky, Gordon Fergus-Thompson,  Matti Raekallio and James Giles. 

MARGARITA ROVENSKAYA

Pianist and avid chamber musician Margarita Rovenskaya has performed extensively in the US and abroad, with solo and chamber recitals in venues such as Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall. Winner of the Mary Smart International Concerto Competition, Westminster Piano Concerto Competition, Connecticut Young Artist Competition, and American Fine Arts Festival, Ms. Rovenskaya is based in New York City. She is Co-Adjunct faculty at Rutgers University, served as Adjunct Piano Instructor at New York University, and is currently piano faculty at several studios and schools in NYC. 

 

Born in Ukraine, Margarita Rovenskaya began studying the piano at the age of six in Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Oberlin Conservatory in May 2012, her Masters in Piano Studies at New York University in May 2014, and is currently earning her Doctorate of Musical Arts at Rutgers University. Her teachers include Efrem Briskin, Peter Takacs, Eteri Andjaparidze, and Vladimir Valjarevic.


Ms. Rovenskaya especially enjoys chamber music, and has collaborated with internationally acclaimed artists, including recitals with concertmaster of Russian orchestra Moscow Virtuosi, Alexey Lundin. In summer of 2013, she also performed in Vermont as part of the six-week Manchester Music Festival chamber series. In the summer of 2015, Margarita was Visiting Artist and Piano Fellow at the Heifetz Institute, where she coached and performed the chamber music of quintets and trios, as well as with her duo partner, cellist Kevin Mills. Ms. Rovenskaya has performed several trios in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie hall as a winner of the Chamber Music Prize at the American Festival of Fine Arts. Her performances also include premieres of new music, such as the US premier of Frank Ticheli’s Clarinet Concerto, where she was the orchestral pianist, and Christopher Dietz’s premiere of Sonoromoro for chamber orchestra, piano and percussion. Ms. Rovenskaya's piano quartet, Desdemona Quartet, is currently collaborating with composers Peter Kramer, Cassandra Venaglia, and Kat Vokes for commissioned piano quartets. 

 

Ms. Rovenskaya's solo performances include international venues at the Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival in Germany, the International Academy of Music at Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in Italy, as well as festivals such as the Summit Music Festival, PianoSummer at New Paltz, Beethoven Institute at Mannes, and Round Top Festival Institute. In the summer of 2014, she ran the international Summit Music Festival as General Manager, where she also performed both solo and chamber music.

MARKO STUPAREVIC

Pianist Dr. Marko Stuparevic has appeared in over 500 concerts and festivals over the USA, Israel, France, Serbia, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Slovakia as a solo performer and chamber musician.

Winning prizes in Dimitar Nenov, Petar Konjovic, American Protege, Nikolai Rubinstein and other international piano competitions resulted in many notable solo recitals in the USA and Europe, including Carnegie Weill Hall and many other important venues.

Dr. Stuparevic has performed as soloist with Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra, Razgrad Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of the Army House of Serbia, National Symphony of Bulgaria and Foot in the Door Ensemble.

As a member of Prometheus Duo with saxophonist Joseph Abad, Dr. Stuparevic performed more than 50 concerts since its founding in 2016, performing in the USA, Iceland and Serbia, premiering new music and traditional chamber repertoire. The Duo was granted artist-in residency at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in 2016 and 2017, and was featured on the Parma

Records CD “Spectra Vol.2” and NPR station.

Vast chamber music and collaborative experience includes performances as a part of 20/20 Honors Chamber Music Program, Vagus Trio, 016 ensemble, Elements Ensemble, and collaborations with the world renewed musicians such as double-bassist Robert Black (Bang on the Can All-Stars), soprano Maureen O’Flynn (Metropolitan Opera primadona), Martha Graham

principal dancer Miki Orihara, and many other established artists.

Dr. Stuparevic is Head of the Piano Department at Silver Music in New York City, piano faculty at JCC Thurnauer School of Music, piano and chamber music faculty at Luzerne Music Center and Art Ahimsa Music Festival.

Dr. Stuparevic earned his doctoral degree (DMA) at the Hartt School of Music studying with the celebrated american pianist Dr. Paul Rutman. Former principal teachers include Anne Koscielny, Phillip Kawin and Jokut Mihailovic. Over the years, in the masterclasses Dr. Stuparevic has worked with such renowned pianists as Garrick Ohlsson, Roswitha Gediga, Arbo

Valdma, Viktor Derevianko, Tijana Humo Rajevac, Lions Gate Trio, Patrick Zygmanowski,

Matei Varga, Aleksandar Sandorov and many others.

KEVIN GAN

Chinese Canadian pianist Kevin Nan Gan is active as a solo pianist, teacher, and music scholar. He received his master degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied under the tutelage of Julian Martin. He taught at music department at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies for three years. He is currently enrolled in the DMA program at Arizona State University, where he is also working as a teaching assistant. He received many prizes in competitions, including Kiwanis Piano Competition, the Ontario Music Festival Piano Competition, Knigge Competition and McGill University Concerto Competition. He was invited to perform in orchestral, solo and chamber concerts in Canada, The United States, France, Spain, Austria and China. As a scholarship recipient, he attended numerous music festivals including Centre d’Arts Orford , Mozarteum Summer Music Academy, International Gijon Piano Festival, Music Alp and Valencia International Festival. His solo album Loeschorn’s Etudes Op.67 is just released in 2018.

Kevin has great interest in period keyboard instrument. Since 2010, he took fortepiano lessons and from renowned fortepianist Tom Beghin and Audrey Axinn. Since 2017, he has been studying harpsichord with Kimberly Marshall.

He is also active as a music scholar. He has been invited to give lectures across China. His essay on Chinese instrument will be published in the journal Chinese Literature and Culture. In addition, he has signed the contract to translate A Handbook to Chopin’s Works by George Jonson from English to Chinese.

He served as jury member in the 2015 Hong Kong International Piano Invitation Competition.

Please reload