The University of the Cumberlands Department of Music hosted Dr. Kevin Priebe, piano professor at Kentucky Wesleyan University, and Dr. Sanghie Lee, piano professor at Northern Georgia University, during the fall semester.

The guest artists offered musical insight and instruction to Cumberlands music students and other campus and community members in attendance, as well as performed musical pieces.

Each event not only involved the piano students but invited the wider student body to participate and make connections based on the specialties of the artists. Both Dr. Priebe’s own performance and the student masterclass performances featured repertoire from the Classical period, including music written between 1750 and 1820 by composers like Beethoven and Mozart, during which music theory students were invited to examine concepts like the governing principle of musical form and structure. Likewise, Dr. Lee’s focus was music from the turn of the 20th century, which capped the year off with a dazzling performance of music by Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin-Wild, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev.

Piano guest artist events are hands-on for all. The programs are open to the public and live-streamed through the department page, generating engagement, discussion, and support on campus and in the online music community.

Each student in Cumberlands’ piano program is encouraged to prepare their music and perform for the guest artist masterclasses, in which the artist not only addresses the students’ needs but seeks to involve the audience in the educational experience. Every Cumberlands piano student has been featured in a masterclass performance, which not only exposes them to a wider breadth of ideas than they would normally receive, but also provides a performance experience requiring practice and preparation.

These events were coordinated by UC piano professor Dr. Kristofer Rucinski, who said, “In my own higher education journey, I learned about a variety of subjects, practiced and honed skills integral to my future disciplines, received nurturing mentorship, and met lifelong friends and colleagues. While these elements remain integrated within my life since graduation, many of my most impactful memories fall into an entirely different category: enriching musical experiences. My own desire to provide students with this important type of novel learning opportunity from professionals of a variety of backgrounds and specialties has resulted in an outstanding year of exciting piano guest artists visiting University of the Cumberlands and passing on to the piano students here their wisdom and passion for music.”

Department of Music Chair David Threlkeld said, “We are so fortunate to have Dr. Rucinski go the extra mile to provide these experiences for our students. Working with experts and then hearing them perform is a valuable educational experience that will serve them well for years to come.” And regarding the performance by Dr. Lee he said, “That was breathtaking! Her playing combined both a technical and musical mastery of the highest level. Brilliant performance!” 

For piano students at the university and public patrons alike, Cumberlands will continue to strive for education and excellence to enhance musical engagement.