First Prize Winner, 2004 Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition
Sonya Schumann made her orchestral debut with the Williamsburg Symphonia League at thirteen, performing as the Young Soloist Competition winner. She has competed and won several competitions, including the Bartok-Kabelevsky-Prokofiev Competition, Williamsburg Symphony Concerto Competition, South Carolina Music Teachers Association Competition and Southeastern Piano Festival.
Sonya performs solo, chamber, and concerto works internationally. She participated in the Southeastern Piano Festival, Indiana University Piano Academy, Ameropa Chamber Music Festival at Prague Conservatory, and the Burgos Music Festival in Spain. Sonya is also internationally recognized for her involvement in Piano Theatre, an interactive experience of music and words. Piano Theatre’s opening 2010 tour of the US and Canada was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. She and her sister, Elizabeth, perform throughout the US, Canada, and Australia as the Schumann Duo, promoting classical music for children in areas where arts programs and funding have been cut. Active in the artistic community, she also serves as an ambassador for the Piano Arts Consortium, performing benefit concerts and giving masterclasses across the East Coast.
Ms. Schumann has a bachelor of music from the University of South Carolina, where she studied with Marina Lomazov. She currently studies under Logan Skelton at the University of Michigan.
When I first rolled up to the Southeastern Piano Festival in the back of my parent’s old Volvo and stepped out into the sweltering South Carolina summer heat, I was an excited but lonely fifteen-year-old. My parents quickly dropped me off and wheeled around back to the breezy Virginia mountains. I didn’t have long to feel lonely, however. That week brought more than superb performances from professional musicians, quality masterclasses from high caliber guest artists, and comprehensive lessons from USC faculty - it also brought a group of 20 teenage pianists close together in a healthy competitive setting without producing an aggressive atmosphere. Perhaps this seems unnecessary to point out this feature, but trust me, it is especially rare to find this quality with musicians. It’s an important distinction, since so much of the music world is cutthroat and deadly competitive. There are many festivals, academies, and competitions for talented young pianists, but none of them in my experience can come close to creating the collegial and friendly tone that SEPF embodies for young pianists in such a short time. While the participants are all in competition with one another for the coveted prize to perform with orchestra, the participants are taught to treat each other as fellow competitors and respected pianists. We sat in each other’s lessons, struggling with and learning from one another. We all strove toward the same goal – to make something beautiful with our music. We would listen to our friends work through difficult passages, giving each other helpful practice tips or just lending an ear. At the end of the week, when each of us took the stage, there were nineteen friends in the audience, cheering for every performance. Even though the festival only lasted a week, I carried that tone with me for the rest of my life. It shaped me socially and musically, and helped craft the attitude that I would take toward music making and music teaching. Since then, I have spent nearly every June at SEPF, returning as an audience member, an intern, a guest artist, and a performer/clinician (for the Conductor’s Institute). Every summer, I perspire more than the last, but I keep coming back to SEPF because of the sense of friendship and respect for music making that SEPF exemplifies. That summer, close friendships were made that have lasted a decade now. In fact this summer, thanks to Marina Lomazov, four of us will reunite on stage together! No matter how far music takes me away from South Carolina, I always look forward to returning for this irreplaceable festival where I found meaningful friendship and mutual respect through music ten years ago.