Classical Performance : Piano

piano lesson

The piano performance area is a unique combination of students from all degree programs who by audition have piano as their major instrument. This includes programs in Classical Performance, Music Education, Music Management, Sound and Engineering Arts and Jazz Studies. All students pursue a comprehensive program emphasizing all of the classical musical styles from the Baroque Period to music written in the 21st century. Several graduates have received international recognition as concert pianists, others have gone on to top graduate schools while many have created private teaching studios, play for theater productions, have regular church or synagogue jobs and perform chamber music. Those with degrees in Music Education hold positions throughout the state of New Jersey.

The internationally acclaimed piano faculty combines the best of the European traditions and techniques with recent trends in modern music. We make no difference between jazz and classical styles but concentrate on educating our students to perform good music well. Our piano faculty has received recognition throughout the world as superior performers as well as distinguished pedagogues. They perform as soloists, chamber musicians and give master classes  in Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and Russia.

Please see the list ofAudition Requirements for piano


Piano Faculty

*Gary Kirkpatrick, Area Coordinator
Internationally acclaimed pianist GARY KIRKPATRICK is recognized throughout the world as one of America's foremost soloists, chamber musicians, and teachers. Originally from Kansas, he gave his first solo recital at age eleven and graduated with high honors from the Eastman School of Music and the Academy of Music in Vienna. After claiming top prizes at the Stepanov Piano Competition in Vienna and the International Piano Competition in Jaen, Spain, he made his New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City. The New York Times praised his "high caliber performance and musicianship" as having "covered a wide gamut of moods with varied pacings within a unified architectural concept." Frequent New York engagements followed, most notably at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, where he was hailed by Musical America as a pianist with a "bright colorful tone, forthright, honest musicianship, and above all, a welcome acuity of timing."

Mr. Kirkpatrick's numerous concert tours and television and radio broadcasts have taken him to more than forty countries (encircling the globe more than three times) and placed him at the vanguard of today's musical scene A strong proponent of 20th century music, he has explored new horizons in compositions created especially for him during his tenure as pianist with the renowned Verdehr Trio, recording more than ten albums on the Crystal, Corélia, Leonardo and Amadeo labels.

Gary Kirkpatrick has been invited as guest artist and teacher to many of the world's leading conservatories including those in Shanghai, China; Bombay and Calcutta, India; Brisbane, Australia, Tallinn, Estonia and Cairo, Egypt. He has been on the faculties of the University of Kansas, the Interlochen Center for the Arts and is currently professor of piano at the William Paterson University of New Jersey where he recently received the Dean's Award of Honor for Exemplary Artistic Achievement.

Recent tours included concerts and master classes in Estonia, Austria, Spain, Greece (Athens and Corfu), Cyprus, Japan, and the US (the Frick Collection in New York City and the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C.). His performance of Howard Hanson's Fantasy on a Theme of Youth received a rave review in Classical New Jersey. In celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Gershwin's birth Mr. Kirkpatrick performed Rhapsody in Blue and The Three Preludes in Osaka Japan. This season's world premier of John Link's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra received the following review: "the piece will never receive a better performance from a soloist." Concerts in California and the New York Metropolitan Area with the newly formed Halcyon Trio (clarinet/viola/piano) have received rave reviews. On their debut CD with the world premiere recording of Trent Johnson's Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (released in April 2002), Gary Kirkpatrick was hailed as "anchor of the trio, measuring each work's pace with a confident authority, sometimes offering biting concision, at others lush, languorous phrasing." Critics singled out the "glinting piano" and "Liszt-like piano passages" in his September 10, 2004 world premier performance of Lalo Schifrin's Triple Concerto for Clarinet, Viola and Piano with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. In July 2009 Mr. Kirkpatrick gave the opening solo concert at the International Music Festival in Villaviciosia de Odon (Madrid), Spain.

Elka Kirkpatrick
Elka Kirkpatrick began her music studies at the State Music School Dobrin Petkov in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Her piano teacher was Zorka Sayan. Elka Kirkpatrick's debut concert was at the age of 10 in a performance of a Mozart concerto with the State Symphony Orchestra. In the following seasons she performed and toured with the orchestra as soloist and orchestral pianist. After a year at the National Conservatory in Sofia she continued her studies at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, Austria, where her piano teacher was Dieter Weber. During this time Elka Kirkpatrick performed extensively as well as coached singers from the Vienna State Opera. She graduated from the Academy and in the following years worked in the United States at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and at William Paterson University in New Jersey. Elka Kirkpatrick is a distinguished soloist, chamber musician and teacher.

Frank Pavese
Frank Pavese began playing piano at age three in his hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey. At age 14, he was accepted and awarded a scholarship to study at the prestigious, world renowned professional arts school, the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. He attended the Academy for four years and after graduating returned to his home state of New Jersey to study at William Paterson University with Bulgarian-American pianist and renowned teacher Elka Gurova Kirkpatrick. Gurova Kirkpatrick’s teacher had been a student of the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, who himself studied with the last student of Chopin, Emile Descombes. After graduating from William Paterson, he made his professional debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. The New York Times described him as a pianist with “Energy and Commitment” and called his playing “persuasive and especially sonorous”. He first came to the attention of the European musical world after acclaimed concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall and the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh.

The press and public followed his career with great interest as he gave his Viennese debut in the Brahms-Saal of the Musikverein. After finishing the first work on the program, he received a standing ovation - something unheard of in Vienna! In 1990, a tour of Hungary followed. The next seasons included return engagements to Vienna, a third tour of Hungary presented by the National Philharmonic, tours of France and Poland and appearances on Hungarian State Radio and Polish National Television. Orchestral appearances have included a tour of Poland where he performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Olsztyn Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Piotr Borkowski. As founder and director of the Hindemithon festival (now in its 15th season) at WPUNJ, celebrating the life and works of composer Paul Hindemith, Pavese received high critical acclaim for his performance of Ludus Tonalis. Classical New Jersey wrote - "Pavese played the enormous work with an ease which was in itself awesome, given the obvious difficulties of the music. Because the composer wrote fugue subjects which were easily identified through their contours and character, the pianist went for the music and not the didacticism, understanding well that there was no need to underline the obvious. Technical and musical difficulties abound in the course of the hour, and Pavese met them all with a full understanding of the score and what Hindemith had set out to accomplish. It was one of the most impressive solo piano performances of a single work I have heard in a long time." Frank Pavese’s extensive research put him in touch with several of Hindemith’s former students including American composer Frank Lewin. His 2007 interview with Lewin has been included in the permanent Paul Hindemith Collection in the Irving S. Gilmore Library at Yale University.

In 2010 Frank Pavese performed recitals of the works of American composer Samuel Barber on tour in honor of the composer's centennial celebration. He concertizes and gives master classes internationally every year and in 2012 made his first Pacific tour performing in Guam and Japan. Recent tours have included concerts and master classes at the Interharmony International Music festival in Arcidosso, Italy and at a festival of American music in France.

Pavese is a highly sought after performer and teacher and recently began his 21st year at William Paterson University.