Stetson alumni to compete in national piano competition

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By Katie Dezes, A&E Editor

After winning the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist South Central Piano Competition, Stetson alumnus Scott Cohen will compete in the MTNA National Piano Competition in Chicago in March.

The MTNA competition is broken up into three stages: state, regional and national. Cohen, who received first place in the state and regional round, will represent the South Central Region of the country at the national level.

The national competition will take place at Northwestern University in Chicago on March 24. The winner will be rewarded a Steinway & Sons Piano and a chance to perform in a concert during the MTNA National Conference.

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The event is held by MTNA is an organization created in 1876 to increase the quality of music education and promote collaboration between music professionals.

Cohen, who earned his bachelor’s in music from Stetson University in 2012, has studied piano for a total of 17 years. For eight of those years, including his time as an undergraduate, he studied under Stetson music professor Dr. Michael Rickman. Cohen said he owes a lot to Dr. Rickman and Stetson University for what they have done to help him make it to this point in his music career.

Although Cohen had begun playing piano at age 7, he said it was not until he began taking lessons with Rickman that he knew he wanted to become a pianist.

“I would go to all of his solo concerts in high school,” Cohen said. “It was inspiring to watch him perform with such refinement.”

“He taught me how to be a knowledgeable performer in understanding how to communicate my voice with respect to the composer’s style and ideas,” he added.

According to Cohen, his four years at Stetson were the most enriching years of his life. “There is something special about the Stetson Music School where artists collaborate, perform, and teach,” he said.

While studying at Stetson, Rickman’s weekly studio class, where students would perform for one another and give feedback, had a particularly great impact on Cohen. “After playing we would exchange ideas on interpretation, technique, and style,” Cohen explained.

Cohen was also given the chance to attend the Orfeo International Music Festival in Italy with the piano division and met some of the world’s greatest pianists, with Dr. Rickman among them. He is now finishing his last semester of the MFA piano program at Tulane University in New Orleans where he received a graduate teaching assistantship.

According to Cohen, it was during his graduate studies that he “fell into the world of competition and pedagogy.”

“It was my dream to make it to nationals when I was younger, but it was competitive,” Cohen added. “Being a graduate student and TA I was able to almost refine what I was taught at Stetson; teaching seems to solidify what I learned.”

Cohen said he is currently auditioning for music doctoral programs with hopes of one day becoming a piano professor.

“Although I am at a different university, I still owe my respects to Dr. Rickman and the Stetson School of Music,” Cohen said. “It has truly shaped me into who I am today.”

At the MTNA National Competition, Cohen will perform a 30 minute program, which will include the following musical pieces: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita no 2 in c minor BWV 826 Sinfonia, Rondeau, and Capriccio, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in E-Flat Major Opus 27 No. 1 Movements 3 and 4, Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 10 in f minor, and Maurice Ravel’s Ondine from Gaspard de la Nuit.

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