Oberlin Partners with International Piano Academy Lake Como

April 30, 2015

Erich Burnett

Naboré is seated at a grand piano, with the distinctive windows of Bibbins Hall in the background
William Naboré selected Oberlin to be the U.S. home of the International Piano Academy Lake Como.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

The International Piano Academy Lake Como, an exalted institution dedicated to advancing the education of elite student pianists, has formed a partnership with the Oberlin Conservatory of Music that will yield an exclusive U.S. home for the Italy-based program.

Beginning with a pilot program in fall 2016, two students, selected from applicants worldwide, will take part in the Oberlin-Como Piano Academy, a two-year program of study toward an artist diploma. In future years, three students will be selected each year.

“Lake Como is a true community of artists and so is a perfect match for Oberlin, where faculty and students come together with a shared commitment to artistic excellence and curiosity to create a vibrant musical world,” says Andrea Kalyn, dean of Oberlin Conservatory.

Located in a 17th-century palazzo on the shores of idyllic Lake Como, the International Piano Academy Lake Como is considered one of the top piano academies in the world. Founded in 2002, Lake Como is the creation of William Naboré, with pianist Martha Argerich as honorary president. It is dedicated to nurturing the development of young pianists regardless of financial resources or country of origin.

Lake Como’s relationship with Oberlin came about through the academy’s interest in working with a major American conservatory. Impressed by the performances of pianists participating in Oberlin’s annual Cooper International Competition and by the conservatory’s piano faculty, Naboré sought out Oberlin to be that U.S. home. The partnership was cemented during a spring semester visit to Oberlin by Naboré.

“Limiting this experience to one place is not enough,” he says. “I love the idea of a liberal arts college connected with a conservatory, and Oberlin has great prestige. I mention it to my colleagues and they say, ‘That’s great—you’ve picked the right place.’”

The partnership will enable three exceptional piano students each year to live and study at Oberlin Conservatory as Oberlin-Como Fellows. They will work with Oberlin faculty as well as faculty from Como Academy, who will hold four weeklong residencies on campus each year. As in the Italian program, Oberlin-Como studies will focus on lessons, chamber music, ensemble projects, and collaborative piano projects.

The Oberlin-Como Piano Academy will be an asset to Oberlin undergraduate students as well.

"This is a great development for our students, who will rub shoulders with Oberlin-Como Fellows and participate in master classes given by visiting faculty,” says Oberlin Professor of Piano Robert Shannon. “Oberlin’s incredible resources in all areas of art, music, and jazz will be of great value to the Como Fellows as well. We have the potential to truly transform our programs and to enhance our connections with European music-making."

“The master teachers who will be a part of this program are all legends in the piano world, and their residencies on our campus are sure to be highlights of every student's academic career at Oberlin,” adds Associate Professor Alvin Chow, chair of the Piano Department.

“Having Oberlin-Como Fellows on our campus will have a direct influence on the Oberlin piano program, as they will provide examples of serious musicians striving to reach the pinnacle of their art. They will inspire our students not only with their performances, but also their work ethic and professional standards.”

To celebrate the launch of the program, a concert featuring three pianists from the International Piano Academy Lake Como will take place in Finney Chapel in fall 2015.

Applications for 2016-17 will be available through Oberlin Conservatory Admissions beginning in fall 2015.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL PIANO ACADEMY LAKE COMO: Each year, more than 1,000 students from around the world vie for seven available positions at the International Piano Academy Lake Como, where they have access to artist faculty who are among the most celebrated pianists in the world. Current and former members include Dmitri Bashkirov, Leon Fleisher, Peter Frankl, Fou Ts'ong, Malcolm Bilson, Alicia de Larrocha, and Menahem Pressler. Students admitted to the International Piano Academy Lake Como study free of charge, with emphasis placed on development of the highest artistic achievement amid a rich and inspiring cultural life. Students of the academy routinely go on to win major international piano competitions. “The first thing we want people to become is nice human beings,” academy founder William Naboré says. “If they also become excellent pianists, that is great. Our role is to give the maximum of information from which our students can choose. We try to open their eyes to the secrets of music.”

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