On a rainy evening in Gainesville, an audience stayed dry in the performance hall of the University of Florida School of Music as they leaned over a piano rendition of the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor from Frédéric Chopin.
The rush of the melody could be seen on the piano keys along with the steady movement of the pedals as Hugh Sung, a renowned classical pianist and performer, performed for the UF International Piano Festival.
But something was unusual in this recital. Sung played a piano nearly 1,000 miles away in Pennsylvania while an unmanned piano in Gainesville performed the performance in real time. Sung was projected from a Zoom call onto a screen behind the piano, waking up to hear the applause and explaining each track before continuing.
This magic was made possible by the Yamaha Disklavier, a type of piano belonging to the UF School of Music that allows recitals and even music lessons to be given remotely. Using the piano, Sung also enjoyed some of the students’ performances as if experiencing them live in Gainesville.
This is the first time the festival has been held since 2019 and the first time the Disklavier has been used at the festival. The School of Music acquired the piano in the spring of 2022. Twenty-three participants, many of them high school students, traveled from across the country and around the world to receive lessons and masterclasses with 11 eminent piano and music teachers.
The festival began in 2007 and is an opportunity for high school and college students to interact with UF faculty and other professional musicians. The festival has hosted some of the best pianists and teachers from around the world.
This is just the latest example of UF’s School of Music taking an innovative approach to its work, embracing technology to provide remote teaching and performance opportunities while finding unique ways to integrate artificial intelligence in his teachings.
“I think it has huge potential for sharing musical culture and education with the community,” said Jasmin Arakawa, festival director. “For example, we could provide piano lessons to remote schools that don’t have a teacher or provide music to places like hospitals, and we can showcase the talent of our students to the public across the state, the country or the world without travelling.”
June 28, 2022