Zelpha Wells Piano Competition Scheduled for April 13-14
Zelpha Wells Piano Competition will feaure Jade Simmons in
"The Paganini Project"
Stillman will host its annual Zelpha Wells Piano Competition for April 13-14. The event pays homage to one of Tuscaloosa’s most distinguished citizens, music educators, and humanitarians.
A graduate of Talladega College, where she majored in piano and minored in organ and public school music, Zelpha Wells received certificates in music from Peabody College and Fisk University. She also has been featured in Time magazine and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. A member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Wells has taught music for more than 50 years and is internationally known as a pianist and purveyor of music.
This year’s competition will feature a junior division along with the college division. Semi-finals will begin Friday, April 13, in the Wynn Humanities and Fine Arts Center. The final round of competition will be held Saturday, April 14. Recitals, which are free and open to the public, will be held each evening beginning at 7 p.m.
On April 13th at 7 p.m., the guest artist recital by Jade Simmons. Known for her musical creativity and electrifying stage presence, pianist Jade Simmons is committed to expanding the boundaries of classical music. Chosen as Concert Artist Guild’s New Music/New Places Fellow, Jade offers a diverse mix of repertoire from the classics to the cutting edge, all presented with her unique communicative powers. The Washington Post branded her “A clear, powerful pianist with a magnetic personality…worth seeing any time.”
As CAG’s New Music/New Places Fellow she has the opportunity to create innovative projects and present them in a variety of venues. Her program Kandinsky and Scriabin: Hearing Color, Seeing Sound, which makes its debut in the 2009-10 season, focuses on links between the creative arts, and The Rhythm Project is an exploration of percussive piano playing.
An extension of The Rhythm Project, Jade Simmons released her debut CD in March 2009 for E1 (formerly Koch Classics) entitled Revolutionary Rhythm, praised by all music.com as “a thought-provoking, entertaining, and fun debut that easily establishes Simmons as a major talent.” This recording of American composers features sonatas by Samuel Barber and John Corigliano, as well as works by Russell Pinkston (Tale Spin) and Daniel Bernard Roumain (Hip Hop Studies and Etudes).
Simmons is passionate advocate for the arts in education and created Mozart on the Move, a program used with great success in the Houston public schools. In spring 2007, she continued her educational activities under the auspices of the Van Cliburn Foundation’s “Musical Awakenings” series, visiting twenty schools throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area in a program entitled Virtuosity. An artist with a social conscience that moves her to action, she serves as an advocate for America’s youth, addressing groups across the country on sensitive issues such as suicide prevention and youth violence. She is the founder of the national school program Where Do You Stand?! – a series of interactive presentations on topics from culture to the political climate which has led to numerous appearances on radio and television.
Simmons is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, she co-founded the immensely popular percussion and dance ensemble Boomshaka! She was Miss Illinois and first runner up at the 2000 Miss America Pageant where she performed Chopin’s Etude in c-sharp minor, Op. 10, No. 4, before a live television audience of millions. Simmons holds a Master’s degree from Rice University, where she studied with Jon Kimura Parker, and has also studied at the Foundation Bell’ Arte in Brussels. She designs her own concert attire and plans to expand these successful fashion efforts into an extended commercial line called Zhedya (Jade in Russian).
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