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Nineteen pianists ranging from age 7 to 19 participated in the Festival for Creative Pianists at Colorado Mesa University on April 12-14. Prizes totaling almost $2000 were awarded for creative and repertory excellence. The competition was adjudicated by Dr. Gary Smart (University of North Florida), Dr. John Salmon (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), and Dr. Monte Atkinson (Colorado Mesa University).

Austin Carpenter, 18, Colorado Springs student of Jan Saffir, earned top honors by winning three First Prizes: the special $500 prize for Best Composition, the Best Colorado Pianist Award ($100), and the Best Romantic Era Performance Award ($100). Jordan Haren, 14, local student of Marge Zollner, also scooped three First Prizes ($100 each) by being deemed Best Grand Junction Pianist, Most Lyrical Pianist, and Best Classic Era pianist. Andrew Foutz, 15, local student of Monte Atkinson, was dubbed Best Mesa County Pianist and was further recognized for his classical embellishing skill. Faith Krause, 18, Evergreen student of Peggy Krause, also won in two First Prize categories for her performances of contemporary music. Two Loma students from the studio of Catie Mientka, Gareth and Jareth Rader (11 and 13 years old, respectively), created a sensation with their four-hand performance, which prompted the judges to create a new "Best Duet" prize (a new category that will be retained for upcoming festivals).

Five other students won First Prizes: Taryn Brahmsteadt, 16, Grand Junction student of Brita Fay; Tori Fedler, 12, Grand Junction student of Mary Leah Chavies; Caleb Kostreva, 15, Clifton student of Lisa Bush; Jackie Levitt, 15, Eckert student of Joy Thompson; and Marygrace Prinster, 13, Grand Junction student of Mary Leah Chavies.

Three students earned Honorable Mentions: Sophia Feghali, 7, Grand Junction student of Mary Leah Chavies; Johnny Lopez, 19, Grand Junction student of Dr. Arthur Houle; and Hans Snell, 18, Fruita student of Dr. Andrea Arese-Elias.

Every year one teacher is recognized for "fostering creativity, imagination, versatility and/or originality" in students. This year's Creative Teacher Incentive Award was bestowed to Mary Leah Chavies, a longstanding local teacher who was previously honored as "Teacher of the Year" by the Colorado State Music Teachers Association.

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