College of Visual and Performing Arts

2017 IPFW Gene Marcus Piano Competition Final Round Judges

John Blacklow blacklow1John Blacklow

John Blacklow is a professor of piano and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. He received his DMA from the University of Southern California, his MM from The Juilliard School and his BA from Harvard University. Hailed for his "powerful and eloquent" playing (New York Times), as “a gifted musical presence with a high sense of pianistic fantasy” (Salzburger Nachrichten) and “capable of the utmost in virtuosity” (Fanfare Magazine), Dr. Blacklow is a pianist of unusual versatility, as a soloist, as a collaborator with many ensembles and recital partners, and as an interpreter of repertoire both past and current.  He has been presented in many prestigious venues and concert series throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

As soloist, Blacklow has been presented in venues such as Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, the Royal Conservatoire in  Brussels, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  In 2009, EDI Records released a solo piano CD Prism , featuring works by Berg, J.S. Bach, Schumann, and Chopin. Blacklow has performed in several capacities with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As keyboardist, he has worked under conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Slatkin, John Adams, and Marin Alsop, and performed in the world premiere of Soundings by John Williams at the gala opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Blacklow has also participated on numerous occasions with the LA Philharmonic's Chamber Music Society, on the Green Umbrella New Music Series, and appears on the orchestra's Deutsche Grammophon/iTunes recordings.  In spring of 2014, he was invited to perform in the LA Philharmonic's Minimalist Jukebox festival at Disney Hall, including the west coast premiere of Louis Andriessen's De Materie.

 Blacklow was selected with violinist Jennifer Frautschi by Carnegie Hall and the European Concert Hall Organization for their “Rising Stars” program, and the duo was received with high acclaim at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Wigmore Hall in London, and Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, as well as on Carnegie’s own “Distinctive Debuts” series.  They have since appeared in Symphony Hall in Detroit, the Windham Music Festival in New York, the Wilson Center for the Arts in Wisconsin, Harvard Musical Association, Wellesley College, as well as on NPR’s “Performance Today", Radio France and BBC 3 in the United Kingdom.  In 2014, Albany Records released a recording of the Three Sonatas for Violin and Piano of Robert Schumann, which was praised by Fanfare Magazine:  "Frautschi and Blacklow really get this music, and because of this they deliver performances with both finesse and passion.  Not one phrase goes by without some detail striking the listener, and the best part is that none of this sounds forced or artificial in feeling." “Last year violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt released a recording of all three Sonatas…and it is the only true competition for the Frautschi and Blacklow disc.”  Blacklow and violinist Hahn-Bin first performed together for the Grammy Awards in 2000, honoring Isaac Stern. In addition to highly acclaimed recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and Carnegie's Zankel Hall, they have performed throughout the U.S., in Korea, at the Louvre in Paris, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and recorded the album HAZE for Universal  Music, Ltd., which was praised for its "great intensity and energy" (The Gramophone.)  Blacklow has also appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Princeton Sound Kitchen, the Coolidge and Corigliano Quartets, Atlantic Brass, Quartetto Prometeo, and many prominent recitalists.

Blacklow is an enthusiastic interpreter of new music, premiering works by composers such as Louis Andriessen, Steve Mackey and Magnus Lindberg. In 2011, Albany Records released a CD of works by Barbara White, featuring world premiere recordings of both chamber and solo piano works.  The following year, Bridge Records released Dmitri Tymoczko's Eggman Variations for piano and strings, recorded with the Corigliano Quartet, and Centaur Records has just released a recording of three Soviet era sonatas (Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Kabalevsky) for cello and piano with Karen Buranskas.

In 2015, Albany Records released American Duos, with Blacklow in collaboration with violinist Jennifer Frautschi.  The CD features five works by American contemporary composers Dan Coleman, Stephen Hartke, Steve Mackey, Elena Ruehr, and Barbara White.

A Steinway Artist, Blacklow studied piano with Tatiana Yampolsky, graduating from both Harvard University and The Juilliard School. He serves as Professor of Piano at the University of Notre Dame.

Michael_BoydMichael Boyd

After receiving his high school diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts as a student of Bela Nagy, he earned an undergraduate degree from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Dr. Boyd’s studies continued at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts in Canada as an invited student/performer. While at the Banff Centre he participated in chamber music performances with visiting international artists. Dr. Boyd’s studies culminated in a Masters and Doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music. At Eastman, he was teaching assistant to Rebecca Penneys and served as studio pianist for soprano Jan DeGaetani and violinist Donald Weilerstein. He won first prize as pianist in the the Kneisel Lieder Competition and played a radio broadcast recital from Carnegie Hall with Naumburg prize winning violinist Ian Swensen while still a student.  Dr. Boyd graduated from Eastman with that institution’s highest honor, the Performer’s Certificate.

As a concerto soloist, Dr. Boyd has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Toledo Symphony, the Dearborn Symphony, and the Eastman School Symphony. Solo recitals have taken him across the country, performing frequently in California, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. In March of 2007, he performed on the opening concert of the American Liszt Society’ Festival at the San Francisco Conservatory performing the rarely heard original 1838 version of Liszt’s Paganini Etudes. In Europe Dr. Boyd has performed recitals in Austria, Belgium, and Greece, and in the summer of 2007 was invited to give two lecture recitals in Spain. The first program focused on Andalusian influences in the keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and Padre Antonio Soler and was given in the city where they both had royal appointments to the Spanish court, San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The second program was in Granada on Manuel de Falla’s Andalusian keyboard compositions. It was presented at the concert hall of the Manuel de Falla Archive. 

Dr. Boyd’s sensitivity and skill as a collaborative artist, in addition to his wide knowledge of vocal and instrumental repertoire, have kept him in demand as a recital partner. He has collaborated with cellist Marc Moskovitz for a duo recording on the VAI label and most recently, Fleur De Son Classics released a CD of the two piano versions of the Rite of Spring and Petrouchka with Dr. Boyd and his duo partner, Dr. Joel Schoenhals. American Record Guide said “The results are most impressive and attest to the musicianship and technical skills of these artists” while Clavier magazine’s review stated “Boyd and Schoenhals negotiate these complex scores beautifully, creating rhythmic drive and excitement without becoming bombastic. This duo reminds us that these scores are filled with charm, color, and imagination.” 

Dr. Boyd is Professor of Piano at the University of Toledo.  He was also a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music. His ability to verbalize and demonstrate how to efficiently use the body at the piano thereby freeing the performer to concentrate on musical expression has attracted students from all over the country. During the summer, he has been on the faculty of the Indiana University’s Summer Piano Academy and the Chautauqua Summer Institution. Dr. Boyd recently was named a Steinway Artist.

Lisa Jenson-Abbott NCKP-photo-submissionLia Jensen-Abbott

Dr. Lia Jensen-Abbott has been teaching at Albion College for ten years. Prior to that, she was an adjunct faculty at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. Known for lecture recitals and performances with a background in the humanities, Lia has performed and lectured around Europe including Sweden, Finland, Helsinki, Serbia, France, Switzerland, and Italy. Additionally she has concertized across the United States and Costa Rica, including a solo debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2012. Her research interests include Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Beethoven, Florence Price, and working with semiotics to merge the fields of performance, pedagogy, and music theory. Dr. Jensen-Abbott is a co-founder of the Albion College International Piano Festival along with her husband, Dr. David Abbott. She has recently been collaborating with Dr. Karen Kness, Soprano, at Western Michigan University for several recitals across the United States. A sought after adjudicator, she has judged the MTNA National Piano Finals in 2014 (Chicago) and 2016 (San Antonio). This year she will take over as the President Elect of the Michigan Music Teachers Association. Jensen-Abbott attended Indiana University, The Pennsylvania State University, and The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She resides in Albion with her husband, her son Charlie, and two senior but spoiled Yorkies. In her spare time, she has begun competing in triathlons and plays golf.