School of Music Students Win Krannert Center Debut Artist Competition

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts 2014 Debut Artists Announced:

Samuel Gingher, piano

Alexandra Nowakowski, soprano

The dual roles of Krannert Center as a professional performing arts center and a training facility for students reflect its mission to nurture excellence in the arts through education and presentation. Krannert Center’s long-standing commitment to young artists is uniquely strengthened by its affiliation with the University of Illinois and the School of Music.

In 1984, Dean Jack McKenzie of the College of Fine and Applied Arts recognized that the performing caliber of many students in the School of Music equaled that of some of the young professional artists featured at Krannert Center. McKenzie, at the time Acting Director of Krannert Center, and Robert Bays, then Director of the School of Music, agreed that the School of Music and Krannert Center together would choose a student through audition and that Krannert Center would present the student in recital with a full professional contract. Beginning in 1990, the Krannert Center Debut Artist recital became a part of the Sunday Salon Series, a series specifically devoted to the presentation of emerging young artists in which an intimate atmosphere is created by seating audience members onstage with the performers. All Krannert Center Debut Artists, since the very first in 1984, have remained active performers and educators. For these artists, the award has carried national impact because of Krannert Center’s reputation for excellence.


For only the third time in the competition’s history, co-winners have been announced:

Soprano Alexandra Nowakowski is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance under the tutelage of Cynthia Haymon-Coleman. With the School of Music Opera Program, she has performed in the world premiere of Paradises Lost, The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, and Orpheus in the Underworld. In August 2013, Alexandra sang with the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She received the Encouragement Award at the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Iowa. Alexandra is a recent winner of the Armstrong Competition and is a recipient of the Thomas J. Smith Scholarship and the Dorothy Bowen Scholarship through the U of I. For her Debut recital selections, Alexandra will be accompanied by pianist Jianan Yu as she presents Dvořák’s Cigánské melodie/Gypsy Songs 1-7; Mozart’s Oiseaux, si tous les ans, K. 307 and Dans un bois solitaire, K. 308; and Strauss’ 4 Lieder, Op. 27 1-4.

A doctoral student in piano performance at the U of I, Samuel Gingher has won the Brevard Music Center Solo Piano Competition, the Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music Piano Festival and Competition at West Virginia University, the 21st Century Piano Commission Award Competition at the U of I, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, and piano concerto competitions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the U of I. Gingher is currently studying with Timothy Ehlen and has studied jazz piano with Edmund Paolantonio, Mark Freundt, and Joan Hickey. His research interests lie in 19th-century classical piano improvisation. His Debut program will offer Carl Czerny’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 7 and Liszt’s Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata.


Tickets and Performance Information:

Krannert Center Debut Artists:

Alexandra Nowakowski, soprano

Samuel Gingher, piano

Sunday Salon Series—Emerging Artistry

Sunday, May 4 at 3pm

Foellinger Great Hall

Flex: 40 / SC 35 / Stu 15 / UI & Yth 10

Single: 42 / SC 37 / Stu 15 / UI & Yth 10

Balcony: 10 / UI & Yth 5

Tickets for stage seating are currently unavailable; to join the waiting list, patrons may visit or call 217/333-6280. Balcony seating is still available; patrons are asked to please contact the Ticket Office at 217/333-6280 or 800/KCPATIX (527-2849) for more information. Patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired may also make inquiries via TTY at 217/333-9714.


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