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Twenty-seven young pianists from Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and California competed in the 2015 Festival for Creative Pianists on May 21-23 in the Wash Park Center for Music and Arts, 400 S Williams St., Denver, CO. Three renowned judges adjudicated for the festival: Dr. John Salmon, Dr. Koji Attwood and Dr. Hsiang John Tu.

The complete schedule included two engaging presentations involving all three judges:

The Art of Transcriptions
Dr. Koji Attwood, presenter
Dr. Attwood played and discussed some of the many outstanding transcriptions he has written in the grand tradition of the 19th century.

Adding Notes to Bach: Getting Inventive with Inventions
Dr. John Salmon, presenter (assisted by Dr. Hsiang John Tu)
Dr. Salmon has published many of his "Add On Bach" selections. Listeners were greeted with Salmon's greatest hits: "Bachy Boogie" (Hamming it up on the Invention #14) "Great Bach's Afire" (A Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired version of Invention #8) ....and other fun takes on the classics!

Student Awards

This year we introduced an exciting new annual prize category: Best Original Written Composition, won by Jeremy Rosenstock. As part of the terms of this special prize, Abundant Silence is publishing his composition, "apothegm." Congratulations, Jeremy!

Kudos also to Andrew Vargas, age 14, who scooped a total of four First Prize awards - a record for this year's festival. Shortly after the festival, Andrew courageously battled a life-threatening health condition for many weeks. We are pleased to report that as of Feb. 2016 he is doing much better and his condition is in remission. Our heartfelt best wishes go out to him, his family and friends!

Other top prizewinners included Caroline Danforth, age 11, who garnered three First Prize awards, and Mark Worthington, who earned the double $ award in the category of Best Performance of an Original Composition as well as the Best Pianist Studying with a CMTA Member award.

Complete List of 2015 Prizes Awarded

Artist Pianist Award
Andrew Vargas, age 14 (teacher: Greg Fisher)

Most Versatile Pianist
Caroline Danforth, age 11 (teacher: Drea Wagner)
Zachary Freeman, age 12: Honorable Mention (teacher: Bonnie Early)

Best Performance of a Tasteful Transcription or Arrangement (In any style, original or not) for Piano Solo or for 4 or more hands on 1, 2, or 3 pianos - (split prize)
Rory Devin, age 14 (teacher: Janet Ali)
Rylan Montoya, age 12 (teacher: Leila Viss)
Mark Worthington: Honorable Mention (teacher: Bonnie Early)

Best Demonstration of Genuinely Spontaneous Improvisation in any Style
Zachary Freeman (teacher: Bonnie Early)

Best Demonstration of Spontaneity and/or Improvisation in a Jazz, Pop, Gospel or Rag Style Work
Caroline Danforth (teacher: Drea Wagner)

Best Demonstration of Embellishing and/or Improvising in a Classical Work
Lauren Danforth, age 14 (teacher: Dr. Arthur Johnson)

Best Performance of a Pre-Baroque, Baroque Work of Classical Period Work
Andrew Vargas (teacher: Greg Fisher)

Best Performance of a Romantic Period Work
Andrew Vargas (teacher: Greg Fisher)
Gareth Rader, age 18: Honorable Mention (teacher: Catie Mientka)

Best Performance of an Impressionistic or Contemporary work (In Any Style)
Andrew Vargas (teacher: Greg Fisher)
Jeremy Rosenstock, age 18: Honorable Mention (teacher: Amy Chiu)

Best Performance of a Composition in any Style by a Female Composer
Claire McCollough, age 15 (teacher: Janet Ali)

Best Performance of a Lyrical and Predominantly slow Work
Catherine Kelly, age 15 (teacher: Carol Rankin)

Best Performance of a Cowboy Jazz Selection
Caroline Danforth (teacher: Drea Wagner)

Piano Ensemble Award for Best Performance of a Work for 4 or More hands on 1, 2 or 3 Pianos
Lauren Danforth (teacher: Dr. Arthur Johnson)

Best Pianist Studying with a DAMTA Member
Catherine Kelly (teacher: Carol Rankin)
Marinda Zaugg, age 15: Honorable Mention (teacher: Carol Ann Barry)

Best Pianist Studying with a CMTA Member
Mark Worthington (teacher: Bonnie Early)


Best Original Written Composition Nominated to be published by Abundant Silence Publishing Co.
Jeremy Rosenstock for "apothegm" (teacher: Amy Chiu)

Best Performance of an Original Composition by the Contestant (double prize amount)
Mark Worthington, age 15 (teacher: Bonnie Early)
Zachary Freeman: Honorable Mention (teacher: Bonnie Early)
Leslie Wilburn, age 13: Honorable Mention (teacher: Dr. Jeremy Dittus)


The judges and directors wish to extend their kudos to the teachers of EVERY contestant for their exceptional work. The caliber of this year's contestants was truly inspiring!

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