CIPC Announces New President and CEO

The Cleveland International Piano Competition announced today that Yaron Kohlberg has been retained as the President and CEO, effective September 1, 2018. Mr. Kohlberg will direct the overall management and operations of the CIPC and will work with the Board of Directors to implement the organization’s mission to become the preeminent international piano competition in the world.

“We are thrilled to welcome one of our winners back to Cleveland. Yaron has impressed all with his piano virtuosity, outgoing spirit, and indefatigable energy. As a past medalist, he recognizes the critical impact such an accolade has on a professional career. He sees great potential for increasing the prestige and reach of CIPC and is eager to embrace the work necessary to achieve that growth,” said Jill Goubeaux Clark, Chair of the CIPC Board of Directors. “We know he will build a dynamic synergy with our patrons and donors, and we look forward to Yaron’s joining our musical community.”

A native of Israel, Yaron Kohlberg, born in Jerusalem, is among today’s top Israeli pianists. He has played in major halls in forty countries spanning five continents and has more than ten international prizes, including the second prize at the 2007 CIPC. His performances have won critical acclaim, and he was described by international media as “the pianist with the golden hands”. Mr. Kohlberg, who speaks six languages, resides today in China, where he appears regularly in various concerts and giving masterclasses and workshops in Chinese.

In recent years Mr. Kohlberg has teamed up with his friend Bishara Haroni to form the highly successful Duo Amal piano duo. He also cooperates regularly with top musicians and ensembles around the globe. Mr. Kohlberg holds a graduate degree (with distinction) from the Buchmann-Mehta school of music of Tel Aviv University and is a student of the late Luisa Yoffe as well as Eitan Globerson and Arie Vardi. In some of his concerts he combines classical music with new arrangements of popular and world music.

Best Wishes to Pierre van der Westhuizen

Pierre van der Westhuizen, who has served as CIPC’s President and CEO since 2011, has been named Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Awards.  He will move to Kalamazoo, Michigan and begin his new duties on January 2. “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the CIPC family for these seven years,” van der Westhuizen said.  “I’ve been touched by the most wondrous music, the most dedicated individuals, and the most generous and supportive patrons one could possibly hope for.  I extend my deepest thanks to all.”
Over the course of his tenure at CIPC, van der Westhuizen transformed the competition from a single event to a fully-fledged arts organization by developing a festival approach, which now includes the CIPC for Young Artists, the CIPC Concert Series, and ArtsConnect community outreach program.  Activities include competition performances, guest artist recitals, lectures, master classes, films, chamber music, and orchestral performances.  Van der Westhuizen has been a successful fundraiser for the CIPC, almost doubling the revenue for the competition and more than doubling corporate investment for the 2017 Concert Series.
All of us at CIPC will miss Pierre’s exemplary leadership and wish him the very best in his new position.

Encore! Recap

Gina Jeckering, Allyn Davies, and Catherine Good Brulport, the co-chairs of Encore!

Some 270 guests enjoyed a great dinner and fantastic performances by Nikita Mndoyants, Stanislav Khristenko, Dinara Klinton, and Leonardo Colafelice at the Encore! gala to benefit the Cleveland International Piano Competition on Saturday, August 5. Net proceeds of $60,000 were raised for the organization.

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Staff Profile: Crystal Carlson

Crystal Carlson, CIPC’s Production Manager, has had a very interesting career trajectory since joining the organization in 2011. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s start with her background.

Like most of the CIPC staff, Crystal is a musician. Her instrument is her voice, making her the only vocalist on the team. Born in Idaho, Crystal received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She then moved to Cleveland, where she received a Professional Studies Certificate in voice at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Having a self-professed love of performing, Crystal appeared in a number of local productions while teaching and working at Little Italy’s famed Corbo’s Bakery to help make ends meet. And then a friend suggested she apply for a temporary administrative assistant position at the Cleveland International Piano Competition.

It was early in 2011 and CIPC was staffing up for that year’s competition. Crystal was hired to help with the event (as was her future husband, but that’s another story altogether) and, as they say, she’s never looked back.

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Nikita Mndoyants on Tour

When Nikita Mndoyants won first prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition last year he was awarded more than a cash prize.  He also received a Carnegie Hall debut, a compact disc recording on the Steinway & Sons label, and dozens of concert engagements in the U.S. and abroad.

Earlier this year he began fulfilling those engagements, beginning with two concerts in Europe – one in the Salle Cortot in Paris, and another at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.  These two concerts were part of the Steinway Prizewinner Concert Network, a collaboration of piano competitions, concert organizers, festivals, and radio stations that introduce select young pianists to international audiences.  CIPC was invited to be a part of this prestigious network last year.

Mr. Mndoyants will perform in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in June, and then follow with summer performances at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival (New York City), Brevard Music Festival (North Carolina), and the Chautauqua Institution (New York).  He will launch the U.S. component of his 2017/18 season with a performance with the Escher String Quartet for the Tuesday Musical Association (Akron, Ohio), continuing with multiple visits to the U.S. that extend into the spring.


Those wishing to catch an upcoming concert can see him right here in Cleveland at
3:00 pm on Sunday, April 30 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center.  He will preview parts of his solo Carnegie Hall program and partner with members of The Cleveland Orchestra for Schumann’s stunning Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44.

While in Cleveland Mr. Mndoyants will visit the schools participating in the PianoKids program for a short performance and a Q&A session with the children.  He also will teach master classes in the piano department of Cleveland State University’s School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music.  CIPC extends its thanks to Mr. Mndoyants for sharing his gifts with the young people of our community and to Steinway Piano Gallery Cleveland for providing the piano for his performances in the schools.

PianoKids is Back for 2017

Those of you who follow CIPC closely know that the organization’s staff and volunteers are firmly committed to ArtsConnect, the outreach and education program designed to help Celebrate the Art of Piano within our community.  The program works with professional artists, community organizations, schools, health care organizations, and generous foundations to create innovative educational programs for young people, and to present concerts that have broad based appeal for all generations.  One of the premiere projects of the ArtsConnect program is PianoKids.

PianoKids has taken several forms since it was first launched last year, but its central purpose remains constant: teach music fundamentals to school children in fun, interactive, and engaging ways.  The first iteration had a trio of musicians (piano, violin, and cello) working with very young children in pre-K to third grade.  The trio visited 11 schools.  A second project brought older children to the 2016 competition, where they spent a full day learning music concepts through song and dance, met musicians and their instruments at an instrument “petting zoo,” watched competition performances, met contestants, and learned about rhythm by creating their own drum line.

This year PianoKids will work again in the schools, this time with children in grades K through 7 and with a new trio made up of Emily Rapson (French horn), Madeline Tolliver (flute), and Natsumi Shibagaki (returning on piano).  It is being presented with strong support from the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.

Sophié van der Westhuizen, Director of the ArtsConnect program, explained the changes.  “We’re returning to several of the same schools and we wanted to introduce new instruments to keep things fresh and interesting,” she said.  “At the same time, by expanding the age range, we’re able to invite more students to join in the fun.”

The expansion takes several forms in addition to the new trio.  By partnering with the Cleveland School of the Arts, the Rainey Institute, and the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, PianoKids will work for the first time with music students.  The PianoKids Trio will present a group learning program tailored specifically to their higher levels of knowledge, as well as master classes for selected students.

PianoKids Comes to the Competition!

PrintThe 2016 Cleveland International Piano Competition and Festival will welcome a very new and different audience this summer as 50 young children participate in PianoKids at CIPC. This special, all-day version of the in-school PianoKids will involve several artists from the ArtsConnect program, including Andris Koh, Aniela Eddy, and Natsumi Shibagaki – the original PianoKids teaching team.

Aged between 8 and 12 years, the children are older than the pre-schoolers taught during the school year and able to enjoy several hours of a “day camp” experience. CIPC is working with the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland to offer the program and help provide supervision. The event will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Continue reading

Free Childrens’ Concert! CIPC Presents Carnival of the Animals!

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A “premiere” performance of Carnival of the Animals in Cleveland last summer.

Last summer CIPC’s ArtsConnect program worked with several community organizations to present two free community performances of Camille Saint-Saëns’ very child-friendly Carnival of the Animals. This spring the fun will continue at the Rainey Institute, a Cleveland institution that has been providing the community with education and programing in the performing and visual arts for more than 100 years.

Saint-Saëns composed Carnival of the Animals while on holiday in 1886. The piece is written for two pianos and an orchestra, and has fourteen movements that use sounds created by the instruments to mimic the sounds of animals. The composer viewed the work as a bit of fun, adamantly insisting that it not be performed in public until after his death in order to not detract from what he considered his more serious work. In 1922, just four months after his death, Carnival of the Animals was given its public debut in Paris. It has since become one of one of Saint-Saëns’ most enduring and popular works. Continue reading

Children Dance and Sing Their Way to Music Learning

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The fall session of the PianoKids program at Artemus Ward Elementary School.

Last fall CIPC ArtsConnect launched PianoKids, a music outreach program for pre-school children. The program was designed as a two part presentation: one to introduce the children to basic musical concepts, a second to build on what they learned. This month, Andris Koh (cello), Aniela Eddy (violin), and Natsumi Shibagaki (piano), will return to the schools – and several hundred very excited children – to present part two.

Using song, dance, simple instruments such as egg shakers, and fun learning aides like colorful scarves, the children will be taught the basics of pitch, scales, arpeggios, rhythm and meter. And this won’t be a sedentary classroom – they will be up on their feet, engaged with their teachers and each other, having fun and learning the concepts of music at the same time. Continue reading

CIPC President and CEO Named “Key Influencer”

PierreCIPC is proud to announce that President and CEO Pierre van der Westhuizen has been named one of Musical America’s Key Industry Influencers in its Professionals of the Year Special Report.  Their profile on Dr. van der Westhuizen, can be read HERE.

Each year, the Musical America Professionals of the Year are the performing arts industry’s best-known and most prestigious innovators and market shakers.  Van der Westhuizen was selected over hundreds of nominees based on the following criteria:

Who wields the most influence in the business?  Who has had/is having the most influence on how you make professional decisions?  A top executive at an opera company?  An artist manager?  A blogger or someone with a huge social media following?  When they speak, we listen.

Musical America has been the voice of the performing arts industry worldwide for more than 100 years.  It provides in-depth coverage of performing arts news, special reports, and information vital to performing artists, facilities, managers, presenters, and virtually anyone involved in the performing arts.  Learn more