Pianist Bios and Photos

Ching-Yun Hu

Declared a “first-class talent” and praised for her “poetic use of color and confidently expressive phrasing” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), the distinguished Taiwanese-American pianist CHING-YUN HU is recognized and acclaimed worldwide for her dazzling technique, deeply probing musicality, and directly communicative performance style.

Ching-Yun Hu’s concert career has flourished with a host of engagements on five continents after winning the top prize at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she was also awarded the Audience Favorite Prize. Immediately after, she was engaged for a seven-city tour across Israel and a special invitation from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on only a week’s notice. A year later, she won the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York City.

During the 2016 – 2017 season, Ms. Hu gave the world premiere of Yiu-kwong Chung’s Piano Concerto, “The Red Cliff”, with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Dirk Brosse at the Kimmel Center.  She recorded “Before the Wresting Tides” by Jeremy Gill for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project with Gil Rose at Boston’s Jordan Hall. Ms. Hu will make her fourth appearance with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra in Taiwan, and return to Germany at the Frankfurt Opera House, as well as the Weilburger Schlosskonzerte, performing Beethoven Concertos No. 1 and 2 with the Staatskapelle Halle. She will perform with the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea, and will be heard at various recitals and chamber music appearances throughout the United States, Taiwan, and China.

In the 2015-2016 season, Ms. Hu appeared in recitals in New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Tel Aviv, Budapest, and at the Muzikmesse Frankfurt. She performed for the gala concert of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Jeffrey Kahane. She also soloed with the Wyoming, Bozeman, and Topeka Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Orquestra Petrobras Sinfônica and Orquestra Filarmônica do Espírito Santo in Brazil, Taipei Chinese Orchestra at the Macau International Music Festival, and New York’s Massapequa Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ching-Yun Hu made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1999. She has appeared at prestigious concert halls across the globe, including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Aspen Music Festival, Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre (London), Salle Cortot (Paris), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Herkulesaal (Munich), Klavier-Ruhr Festival, Franz Liszt Academy of Music (Budapest), Duszniki-Dzroj Chopin International Festival and Rubinstein Philharmonic Hall (Poland), Opera House (Tel Aviv), National Concert Hall (Taipei), and Japan’s Osaka Hall. Ms. Hu is also a frequent guest artist at distinguished music festivals throughout the world.

An avid Chopin interpreter, Ching-Yun Hu’s debut recording, an all-Chopin CD released in 2011 on the Taiwanese label ArchiMusic, won Taiwan’s 2012 Golden Melody Award for Best Classical Album of the Year. The fall of 2013 saw the release of her second CD – music of Granados, Mozart and Ravel – on CAG Records.

A native of Taipei, Ms. Hu made her concerto debut at the age of 13 on a tour in Japan and Taiwan. One year later, she moved to the United States to continue her musical studies at The Juilliard School, working with Herbert Stessin. She worked with Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and received additional guidance from Karl-Heinz Kammerling in Germany.

In addition to performing, Ms. Hu is a keen advocate for the promotion of classical music. She founded the Yun-Hsiang International Music Festival in Taipei in 2012, and the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy in 2013, a piano festival that takes place at the Curtis Institute of Music every summer.

Asiya Korepanova

Asiya Korepanova is a creative force. Her virtuosity as a pianist is best defined by a supreme level of technical aptitude, combined with her acutely individualized musical interpretations. A broad and unique artist, she expresses herself through several mediums; transcription, visual arts, poetry and composition. Through exploring and combining these art forms, Asiya continually rediscovers new ways to apply her creativity. Having an extensive piano repertoire, she is most fond of performing entire piano cycles. She is currently the only pianist to perform the complete 24 Franz Liszt Etudes at the same recital, a collection of pieces notorious for their prowess and dexterity, each etude effectively serving as a symphonic poem within itself.

In accordance with this passion, in June 2017 Asiya launched ‘Festival Baltimore’, a two-week chamber music series and summer academy featuring the complete works of composers in various genres. Although only in its first year at the Linehan Hall of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the festival has already solidified its reputation as a highly original musical series, both in concept and context; offering a distinctive twist on programming.

An enthusiastic transcriber, Asiya composed the first ever transcriptions of Richard Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben”, for piano solo and complete Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata. Among her other transcriptions are works by Faure, Berg, Amy Beach, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and others.

Many of her transcriptions can be heard in her YouTube vlog project “Midnight Pieces”, a one of its kind project launched in September, 2017. The weekly vlog presents 53 pieces over the course of 12 months, a new piece presented each week. Curated in groupings of four, each four week section is comprised of; a well-known piece, a piece by a Russian composer, an obscure piece, and a transcription by Asiya.

Asiya has performed more than 55 piano concertos with orchestras. She has worked with Hans Graf, Joseph Silverstein, Michael Butterman, Enrique Mazzola, Vladimir Spivakov, Mark Gorenstein, Stephen Gunzenhauser, Jeffrey Rink, Peter Tiboris and Ion Marin; playing in the United States, Canada, Russia, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Greece, Czech Republic, England, Australia, Kuwait, and India.

The daughter of a composer, Asiya has premiered 3 concertos of Russian contemporary composers, Vladislav Kazenin and Shamil Timerbulatov, together with the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra of Russia, the Saint Petersburg Capella Symphony Orchestra, the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra.

In the United States, she premiered the Faust concerto for Piano, Flute and Saxophone by Thomas Sleeper. Also, she commissioned a piano concerto and series of transcendental etudes by American composer Matthew Evan Taylor. Other engagements included; collaborations with trumpet virtuoso Craig Morris during the world premiere of “The Lightning Fields”- a new composition from Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty, and the European premiere of Thomas Sleeper’s Sonata for Piano and Alto saxophone “Seven Deadly Sins”- performed with saxophone legend Dale Underwood.

Asiya developed and performed several multimedia projects with her own poetry and drawings set to Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Tchaikovsky’s Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72. She performs them live, featuring projection of her artwork and narrating the poetry between playing each separate piece of music.

Asiya was born in 1984 in Izhevsk, Russia. Raised in a musical family, she began to learn piano when she was 4 years old from her mother, her first piano teacher. She was taught to read music in orchestral clefs by her father, an exemplary composer, at the age of 6. At 9, she had her orchestral debut, with Mozarts’ no 8 Concerto, adding her own cadenza, and her first philharmonic recital.

She was awarded the Russian Federation’s President Award for “Exceptional Achievement in the Arts” when she was 12. She has been honored with the National Award from the Republic of Udmurtia (2002), Germany’s Berliner Salon Award (2003), and Russia’s Youth Triumph Award (2005). In 2009, she became an Honored Artist of Udmurtia, and a soloist with the Moscow Philharmonic Society

Asiya moved to the United States in 2012, at the invitation of renowned concert pianist Santiago Rodriguez. In the same year, she became a Gold Medal winner at the Nina Wideman International Piano Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana. She has garnered national attention and performed at and participated in; the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, the Bargemusic Series and Symphony Space in New York, the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series, the Pianoforte Foundation Series in Chicago and the Sarasota Artist Series. In addition, she has made appearances in Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta. Her recitals have been broadcasted nationally by NPR stations WFMT and WETA. Recently, CNN featured Asiya performing, and covered the specialized programs she offers school children.

Asiya launched “Music for Minds”, a non-profit organization with a dual primary focus; bringing classical performances to children directly to their classrooms, and creating music festivals with unique programming.

This season, Asiya debuts at the Eurasia Festival in New York and Miami Piano Festival in South Florida, and tours in Canada, Australia, Russia, and Italy. She will also be completing several recordings which feature the complete Rachmaninoff sonatas, including the first ever solo piano transcription of Rachmaninoff Cello sonata which she completed in 2014. A special DVD of Asiya performing at the Tchaikovsky’s birthplace upon an invitation from the Russian government will also be released. In June 2018, she will be running the Festival Baltimore for the second time, collaborating with world-renowned musicians and performing versatile programs which include works by Richard Strauss, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Bela Bartok and George Crumb.

Anastasiya Naplekova

Ukrainian-born pianist Anastasiya Naplekova has a unique voice in the world of music, performing with “effortless virtuosity” (Cincinnati Enquirer) and delivering the most challenging works of the piano repertoire with “strongly personal performance” (The Miami Herald). Winner of the Rudolf Firkusny International Piano Competition in Prague, she has recently received her doctoral degree in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, studying under the distinguished tutorage of Professor Santiago Rodriguez.

Among Ms. Naplekova’s achievements include prizes at the 2014 Hilton Head International  Piano Competition, the 6th International Ignacy Paderewski Piano Competition in  Poland, the International Piano Competition in memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Ukraine, the Wideman Piano Competition in Louisiana, Second Prize at the International Piano Competition Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem in Morocco, and most recently the Third Prize at the Olga Kern International Piano Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

An international performer, Ms. Naplekova has participated in music festivals such as the Paris International Summer Sessions organized by Foundation Bell’Arte, Beethoven Master Classes with Menahem Pressler in Boston, CCM Prague International Piano Institute, and appeared in solo recitals throughout Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, France, Portugal and the USA. She has been a soloist with multiple orchestras, including the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Crimea State Symphony Orchestra, and the Frost Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leon Fleisher as the opening performance for the 2012 Festival Miami concert series.

Ms. Naplekova received her BM and MM in piano performance from Kharkov State University of  Arts studying under Professor Nataliya Melnikova. She continued her study at the  University of Florida with Professor Kevin Sharpe, where she received her second MM in piano performance. Ms. Naplekova has played in master classes with Ian Hobson, Robert Roux, Steven Hough, Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff, and Phillip Entremont. Ms. Naplekova is also the recipient of special grants from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the President of Ukraine.

Sara Daneshpour

Sara Daneshpour is the 3rd prizewinner of the 2017 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, along with the 2014 prizewinner at the Seoul International Music Competition in Seoul, Korea and 2013 Laureate of the ProLiance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards of the American Pianists Association. She is the First Prize winner of the XII Concours International de Musique du Maroc (Morocco, 2012), 2nd prize of the 2007 William Kapell International Piano Competition, and 1st prize and Gold Medal winner of the 2007 International Russian Music Piano Competition. She has studied under the direction of Leon Fleisher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky at the Juilliard School, and Dr. Oleg Volkov. Her studies are continuing under Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2015.

Ms. Daneshpour has performed not only in her native city of Washington DC, but also throughout the U.S., Russia, Canada, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, France, Sweden, Spain, and Japan She has been heard on stages of such prestigious venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Great Hall of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. In addition, she has been featured nationwide on 160 public radio stations, including the venerable WGBH in Boston.

Ms. Daneshpour’s performances have earned high accolades of audiences and critics alike. The Washington Post wrote of her performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra “…she created transfixing poetry. And she found delightful details in passagework and incidents that other pianists treat as routine.” The Baltimore Sun stated that Sara “delivered a powerhouse account of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No.1 producing enough tone for two pianists in the process”, while The Mercury News called her performance “…sensational. Strength, finesse, passion; it was all there.”

In addition, she has been featured as a soloist on prestigious music series including the Werner Richard Saal concert series in Munich, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Strathmore Hall in Washington, DC, Ventura Festival, The Frederic Chopin Society in St.Paul, Minnesota, The Gnessin School of Music in Moscow, and the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York, in which the New York Concert Review wrote,“ she lavished color on oft-nelected line, illuminated subtle beauties, and raged through the storms, always with stunning polish…she exhibits all the requisites for a high voltage career and more: blazing technique, power, expressivity, imagination, and a lovely stage presence.“ Sara Daneshpour has recently joined the Astral Artists roster as a winner of its 2010 National Auditions.

Highlights of past seasons included performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Schwarz in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2 with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro George Hanson, and with Maestro Peter Bay at the Britt Festival in Jaksonville, Oregon. Performances of Mozart’s Piano Concerto, No. 20 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in Maryland, and with Maestro Stephen Simon and the Sinfonietta both in Cape Cod and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Buck’s County Symphony with Maestro Gary Fagin. Ms. Daneshpour recently also gave solo recitals at the Musee d’Orsay and returned to Paris for a recital at the Salle Cortot. Other engagements included recitals in Normandy, France, the Vancouver Chopin Society, the Steinway Series at Texas A&M International University, the Chopin Foundation of the United States, and in Cape Cod; Ms. Daneshpour has debuted on Astral’s series in the Philadelphia Brahms Festival and has also been featured as concerto soloist on its Rising Stars concerts.

Aleksandra Kasman

Praised by Italian press for her “rock solid technique” and “singing every sentence with an expressive logic of extraordinary maturity”, Russian-American pianist Aleksandra (Sasha) Kasman has performed in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras in the USA, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, France, and Japan. She is a prizewinner of national and international competitions, including the first prize and audience award of the III Premio Roberto Melini (Italy), first prizes at the NFMC National Collegiate Piano Competition, High Point University Inaugural Piano Competition and IKIF MacKenzie International Competition in New York, and top prizes at the VIII International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz (Ukraine) and Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition.

Sasha began studying piano at age six with her mother Tatiana and later continued studies with her father, 1997 Van Cliburn Competition silver medalist Yakov Kasman. In 2017, she received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from the University of Alabama at Birmingham under the guidance of Yakov Kasman. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in piano performance at the Juilliard School under the guidance of Robert McDonald.

Sasha made her concerto debut at age thirteen with the Symphonic Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine, and has since soloed with the Alabama Symphony, LaGrange Symphony, Southern Adventist University Symphony Orchestra, and played six concertos with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. With her father, Sasha played Saint-Saens’s “Carnival of Animals” with the Brevard Symphony (FL), the New York Chamber Players, and the Hendersonville Symphony (NC). Among her recent engagements are a four-city solo recital tour in Northern Italy, performances in New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Juilliard’s Paul Hall, Roncegno and Riva del Garda (Italy), and St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, as well as duo-piano performances with Yakov Kasman across the USA, Russia, and South Korea.

Highlights of Sasha’s 2018 calendar include appearances in Boca Raton, FL, Columbia, SC (as a guest artist at the Southeastern Piano Festival), composition premieres and chamber music performances at Juilliard, and three more returns to Italy for solo, chamber, and concerto performances.

Sasha is passionate about classical music outreach; she served as Vice-President for UAB’s Music Notes for the Soul and has lectured and performed at numerous national honors conferences. She has taught masterclasses at Lee University in Tennessee and at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. A winner of the prestigious Edmund Assaly Memorial Fund scholarship and PianoArts Artist-in-Residence Fellowship, Sasha has completed three consecutive teaching and performing tours for the organization, focusing on working with children in schools and community establishments. In her March 2018 PianoArts tour, Sasha appeared in sixteen engagements over the span of eight days. Apart from music, Sasha enjoys studying French and ballet.