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  • David Kiser

Kiser Piano Studio News, Fall 2023

This was a busy Fall for our piano students in Greenville, SC. (You'll find recent student accolades near the bottom of the post).

I suppose I might start with the most recent events and go backwards. I'm writing this at the beginning of our Christmas Break. So the most recent news has to do with Lisa herself! As the Principal Keyboardist for the Greenville Symphony she has made connections with a variety of folks that perform and work on the behalf for touring groups at the Peace Center.

She just played for the Broadway Musical The Wiz at the Peace Center. She was slotted right below the conductor for the Greenville premier of a big national tour. The keyboardist plays continuously throughout the 2+ hour show and involves a good deal of improvisation in a jazz and funk style. Additionally she had to do a lot of patching for different sounds as the keyboardist is responsible for strings, harp, etc. I'll attach a few pics so you can see the set up in the Peace Center pit.

Sophie and Eleanor at the marquee!

Lisa was the "Assistant Conductor/Keyboard 2"

Pedals for switching

Two keyboards, stage monitor, iPad, patch monitor.

Lisa also just finished joining up with the Celtic Women Christmas Symphony Tour for the the Greenville and Columbia legs of their national tour. She served as keyboardist. There was also the usual flurry of Holiday Concerts in Greenville like Holiday at Peace where she played piano and celeste with the Greenville Symphony. And before that was the International Ballet and the Nutcracker. Lisa played the celeste.

Additionally she did a mini tour Education and Community Engagement tour in Greenville with the Concertmaster of the South Carolina Philharmonic Mary Lee Kinosian. Pictures and post about it here. See the instagram post of the lovely looking stage at Holiday at Peace here.

Early in the holiday season we played piano duo recital with a Christmas music theme. This was one of our favorite duo recitals that we've played. It's always difficult to find suitable piano music for piano four hands. There's simultaneously a lot and a little out there. But this program was so good we want to do it every year. Two suites, one religious, one secular. See the program below. And for props we brought out our nutcracker from home and put it on the piano. That was a big hit. I can't say I was responsible for the program title "Christmas On the Keys" That was Myra Cordell Bagnoli's idea.

As you've read about before on this blog we are always proud of our students for their Saturday Serenade program that Henry S and O. Fan have organized at our local retirement center Rolling Green. They do all the work. It's a good opportunity for them to try their pieces in public and a good social event for the residents.

Group picture of some of the performers. While not meant to be only a studio recital it typical mainly involves Kiser Piano Studio students.

They even distributed flyers. I found this one at the Fine Arts Center where Greenville County Youth Orchestra Rehearses.

Henry Sun and Olyvia Fan do all the talking and introductions!

We also had a studio recital at Steinway of Greenville in their recital hall space. It's always inspiring to see the names and faces of the great pianists in the past who have played Steinways. We are not Steinway Artists but we love the piano (so much so that we got our D a blanket, i.e. cover for Christmas). Here are some pics of some of the performers and little listeners

Like last year another one of our students got orchestral playing experience which is rare for pianists, but because Lisa (and lesser so myself) play for professional orchestras it is something that we like to try and arrange for our students when possible. You can't see him but our student Andrew Ning is on the stage as part of the GCYO Young Artist Orchestra, playing piano.

On another performing note Lisa and myself played concertos with the Atlanta Sinfonia in the North Atlanta area with Dr. Pyeongkang Park conducting. Here is a photo. Lisa did the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 and I did a newly composed "Concertino" on the hymn "How Great Thou Art". This area just north of the metro is a huge Korean town with many restaurants. (Duluth and Suwanee). Video of complete concert here.

Pic: Dr. Park and his daughter, left. David Kiser center and Lisa Kiser with their daughter Eleanor on the right.

It's always nice to get the National Federation of Music Clubs magazines and see a picture of one of my first piano teachers Deborah Freeman (who is also the National President!). What's nice about piano lessons is that usually students form a long lasting bond with their teachers. Lisa's students routinely say hello after/during college when they return to town. I am fortunate to be in the same town that I grew up so I see Deborah every now and again. She's wearing the read blouse on the cover.

Student Accomplishments

We are so proud of Roger Luo and our other students who won MTNA. He is going on to the regional competition.


Our student winners:

Winner Junior Division - Roger Luo

Alternate Senior Division - Zanshuo Zhang

Honorable mention - Andrew Ning

Winner piano duet - Zhanshuo Zhang & Nathan Thomas Wicker

Lisa's students made a clean sweep of the Carolina Youth Symphony Piano Competition. We are especially proud of Henry Sun who had competed in the past. Important to note that his brother Nathan Sun won the same competition with the same piece a few years ago. Nathan graduates from Harvard University this year.


1st Place: Henry Sun, Piano, of Greer, South Carolina.  Henry attends Riverside High School and is a student of Lisa Kiser of Greenville, S.C. (Grieg A minor, 1st mvt.)

2nd Place:  Yuchen Lin, Piano, of Pelzer, South Carolina.  Yuchen attends Augusta Preparatory Day School and is a student of Lisa Kiser of Greenville, S.C. (Mozart D minor, 1st mvt.)

3rd Place:  Nathan Wicker, Piano, of Greer, South Carolina.  Nathan attends Riverside High School,and is a student of Lisa Kiser of Greenville, SC.  (Grieg A minor, 1st mvt.)

Other competitors from our student were Andrew Ning who played Grieg A minor, 3rd mvt. and Amy Ding who played Mozart's 21st concert, 1st mvt.

"First Place winners in both Divisions will perform their Competition pieces with the Carolina Youth Symphony in a full formal concert on Sunday, March 3, 2024, at 4:00pm in Furman’s McAlister Auditorium. The $500 Prize for each first-place winner will be presented by CYS and Bernhardt House of Violins at the Concert.  All Finalists will be recognized and presented with award plaques on stage at this concert." (From announcement)

We are also proud of one of our younger students Sonia Okunev for winning the Sonatina Festival in Charleston on 11/11:

Division IV

Winner: Sonia Okunev   

2nd Place: Dora Wang

3rd Place: Hillary Chang

In the same vein, I forgot to mention that Andrew Ning and Henry Sun participated in Piccolo Spoleto Rising Stars last summer. You can find their performances here.

Stay tuned for another blog post about our senior piano students and their college admission news. We are already hearing back from them about the exciting schools they will attend.

And to close out the blog here is a picture of Lisa at Lincoln Center in NYC. Happy New Year!


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