WMU News

WMU pianist debuts at Lincoln Center in New York

Sept. 7, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A Western Michigan University music faculty member will be making her New York debut next week at a venue many musicians can only dream of--the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Lori Sims, a pianist and associate professor of music, will perform works by Sofia Gubaidulina, Robert Schumann, Beethoven and a new composition by fellow WMU music faculty member Curtis Curtis-Smith in a Saturday, Sept. 16, concert at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. Sims will premiere portions of Smith's composition "Twelve Etudes for Piano."

The concert is being sponsored by a group of people in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where Sims was a faculty member at the University of Illinois from 1995-97. Efforts to stage her New York debut began about a year ago when she performed at a benefit concert in Champaign-Urbana to raise money for the concert.

"It's a big experience to have," says Sims, who just returned Monday, Sept. 4, from Germany, where she performed in Hamburg and performed and taught at a festival in Goslar.

Big experiences really are nothing new to Sims. A native of Colorado, she has been turning heads in classical music in recent years. Her Lincoln Center concert comes two years after she won first prize in the prestigious Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sims also won the prize for the best performance of a work by Brahms at that international competition.

More than 250 pianists from around the world were considered in the pre-screening of the Bachauer competition, 47 of whom were selected to compete. Sims' prize included $10,000, a new Steinway grand piano, the release of a CD recording from performances at the competition and four years of concerts and residencies around the world.

Sims' other awards include first prize co-winner of the 1994 Felix Bartholdy-Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin, winner of the 1993 Amercan Pianists' Association Competition with outstanding distinction from the jury, and the silver medal in the 1987 Kosciuszcko Foundation Chopin Competition.

While a student, Sims was a recipient of the Dean's Prize for most outstanding student at the Yale School of Music, and a Deutsche Akedemische Austauschdienst two-year fellowship from the Federal Republic of Germany.

Sims has performed throughout America, Europe and China, including engagements with the NordDeutscheRadio Orchestra, Hanover, the Israel Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Spokane Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Yale Philharmonic and the Kalamazoo Symphony. She appeared as a recitalist and master class artist at the 2000 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

Sims received her bachelor's degree from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of Leon Fleisher, her master's degree from the Yale School of Music as a student of Daniel Pollack and Claude Frank and a "Solistendiplom," or artist diploma, from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Hanover, Germany, as a student of Arie Vardi. She joined the WMU faculty in 1997.

University representatives will join NYC-area alumni at concert

Sims is excited by how much support the WMU community is giving to the upcoming concert. A gathering of WMU faculty, administrators, alumni and friends is being organized to attend the event. Margaret Merrion, the new dean (since July 1) of the College of Fine Arts, will be among several university representatives traveling to New York to attend the concert and meet area alumni and friends.

"I'm very pleased at the tremendous support of the faculty and administration at Western," she says. "Not only have they been very flexible in allowing me to do these kinds of things, but also that so many of them are coming means a tremendous amount to me. As usual, I've been quite overwhelmed at their support."

Concert ticket prices range from $10 to $20 and are available by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500. Callers identifying themselves as alumni of WMU and are eligible for a discount. For more information about WMU events planned in conjunction with Sims' concert, alumni and friends should contact Kate Barnes, development director for the College of Fine Arts, (616) 387-5694, <kathleen.barnes@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400