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Nariaki Sugiura, piano
"Most Sensitive Touch on the Piano”, “Rigueur, Passion and Discipline of an Old Samurai” music critics raved about his solo performance in Europe. International concert artist Nariaki Sugiura continually gives recitals and concerto performances in the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. His performance was featured at the prestigious concert halls including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall (China), Ferenc Liszt Music Academy Recital Hall (Hungary), Daejeon Arts and Cultural Center Hall (South Korea), Manoel Theater (Malta), Kioi Hall (Japan), and Museo de Arte (Puerto Rico). He has performed piano concertos with Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, UND Chamber Orchestra and many others. His arrangements for chamber ensembles and piano for 6-hands have been frequently performed, and he has conducted his large ensemble arrangements.
Devoted in teaching, Nariaki has emerged to be one of the leading piano pedagogues of his generation. He has given piano classes at numerous institutions such as Civico Instituto Musicale “V. Baravalle” (Italy), Gheorghe Dima Music Academy (Romania), Xinghai Conservatory of Music (China), Ewha Womans University and Sunhwa Arts High School, (South Korea), Universitas Pelita Harapan (Indonesia), St. Paul’s College (Hong Kong), University of Denver, and many other music institutions around the world. Currently he is assistant professor of piano and collaborative piano at University of North Dakota, meantime holding visiting faculty positions at East China Normal University, and Jiangyin Royal Piano Art in China. Previously, he has taught at DePauw University, Indiana University, Festival Internacional de Inverno da Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil, and Lamont Summer Pre-College Music Academy in Denver. While he was at Indiana University, he worked for legendary cellist/pedagogue Janos Starker as a staff accompanist. He has been an adjudicator for many national and international piano competitions in the US and Asia.
Nariaki is an artist featured on eight CD recordings, including Klavier Records, Eroica Classical Recordings, T. K. Music Productions. His performances have been featured on TV and radio broadcast nationally and internationally. Active as an editor, his editions of chamber music scores are published by Ludwig Masters Music Publications.
A native of Japan, Nariaki began piano study with his mother at age five. Under the tutelage of Michel Block and Shigeo Neriki, he received Masters and Doctor of Music in Piano Performance from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Other prominent teachers include Alicia de Larrocha, Friedrich Schurr, and Leonard Hokanson. Numerous national and international competitions have awarded Nariaki prizes, including the 1999 and 2000 Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Competition Top Prizes. He was laureate of the 1993 National Music Competition in Tokyo and of the Annual Competition of Music from Spain and Latin America in 1999.
Simona Barbu, cello
An astounding cellist and educator, Simona Barbu, began her musical studies at age seven and gained public attention as a member of the leading string quartet of the Conservatory of Timisoara in her native Romania, where she made her solo debut in Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the conservatory’s symphonic orchestra. She has traveled in Europe, Asia, and the United States as a soloist, a chamber musician, clinician, and most recently she held residencies at conservatories and universities in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China. Ms. Barbu has also been an active orchestra musician, performing with Memphis Symphony Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Bismarck Symphony Orchestra, and serving as principal with several orchestras including the Eroica Ensemble in Memphis and the Starkville Symphony Orchestra in Mississippi.
Ms. Barbu graduated as the valedictorian from the Music Conservatory at Lynn University in Florida, and she continued her studies in the master of music in cello performance program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas under the tutelage of Nathanel Rosen and Christopher Adkins. Subsequently, Ms. Barbu received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Memphis where she studied with cellist Leonardo Altino. Ms. Barbu has participated in festivals such as Brevard, Masterworks, and the International Academy of Music in Castelnuovo di Garfagana, Italy, and performed in master classes for Timothy Eddy, Yehuda Hanani, Lynn Harrell, Carol Ou, Amid Pales, Aldo Parisot, and Janos Starker.
During her doctorate studies, Ms. Barbu was a faculty member at the Mississippi State University, where she taught strings, coached string ensembles, and conducted the orchestra. Currently Ms. Barbu is an Assistant Professor of Cello and Burgum Endowed Chair at University of North Dakota, and the director of Crescendo Chamber Music Program at the Northern Valley Youth Orchestra. She plays on the modern cello made by Andrew Carruth in 2003.