piano

UF’s International Piano Festival participant Ahui plays classical music at UF Health Shands Hospital.

Beethoven, Ravel and Schubert echoed through the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital Monday as pianists honored the classics.

Surgeon Edward Staples was among those watching the artists play. He said he has attended the UF International Piano Festival for at least five years and goes to different events at the weeklong festival.

His wife, son and father play piano, and, despite being a guitar player himself, Staples said he appreciates the music.

“The students are always enthusiastic, and they present such a variety of music,” he said. “These are really, really good performers.”

Jasmin Arakawa, director of the festival, said the festival has been held annually since 2007.

The festival, which started Saturday, invites international pianists to attend master classes and to compete, Arakawa said.

Participants have come to the festival from countries such as Russia, Peru, Vietnam and China, Arakawa said.

“We gather here and immerse ourselves in the art and the craft of piano playing,” she said.

The festival will have two competitions: the artist division and the rising artist division. Both will take place in UF’s music building room 101, she said.

The artist division is for more experienced piano players and will take place Friday at 7 p.m. The winner of this competition will receive $750. The rising artist competition will take place Saturday at 10 a.m.

The festival has a rigorous application process, but Arakawa urges young musicians to apply.

“I really encourage all the young students who want to pursue music really consider coming here and really be in music,” Arakawa said. “Not just play or listen, but be in music.”

Ahui, 26, is competing in the artist division category.

Ahui said she has played piano for 16 years, including in her band, Screwdriver. Even though she’s attended other international piano festivals, this is her first time attending one in Florida, she said.

She said she has found the festival helpful in terms of learning teaching tips, since she is minoring in piano pedagogy, teaching piano, at the University of Georgia.

“You get to work with other pianists [at the festival],” she said. “We play duet, Franz pieces. And also you get to meet new people.”

Meleah Lyden is a second year Telecommunications major with a specialization in News from Orlando, Florida.