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Stepanova brings lifetime of passion to the piano

Stacia Pelletier

Liza Stepanova’s story begins with a find at a Russian antique store. The find was an antique 19th-century piano, complete with built-in candleholders and engravings of famous composers. The finder was Stepanova’s grandmother, a World War II survivor who loved piano but whose circumstances had not allowed her to pursue music.

Stepanova was instantly taken with the piano as a young child, and her family arranged for her to have lessons near her grandmother’s house. At age 4, she sat down at the bench and played her first notes as her grandmother looked on. Everything about that instrument captivated her.

“That was the beginning,” Stepanova said. “My grandmother supported my playing from that first moment.”

Today an associate professor of piano in UGA’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Stepanova is making waves with bold international performances that combine her love of history, her commitment to retrieving untold stories and her belief in music’s power to address the present moment.

Stepanova won UGA’s Michael F. Adams Early Career Scholar Award in 2019 and the Creative Research Medal in 2021. She has performed throughout Europe and the United States, including as a soloist with the Southwest-German Philharmonic and in top international venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. She won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and received highest honors at the Coleman and Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions as a member of the Lysander Piano Trio.

Closer to home, she launched the Chamber Music Athens festival, which encourages collaborations among students, faculty and visiting performers. She has released two critically acclaimed albums, Tones and Colors (2018) and E Pluribus Unum (2020), the latter featuring piano works by diverse artists exploring the immigrant experience.

Continue reading at Research Communications...

Image: Liza Stepanova by Jiyang Chen

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