Ursula Oppens, a legend among American pianists, is widely admired particularly for her original and perceptive readings of new music, but also for her knowing interpretations of the standard repertoire. No other artist alive today has commissioned and premiered more new works for the piano.
A critically acclaimed recording artist with five Grammy nominations, Oppens most recently released a new recording of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, nominated for a Grammy in 2016, and Piano Songs, a collaboration with Meredith Monk. Oppens has premiered works by such leading composers as John Adams, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, György Ligeti and Witold Lutoslawski,. As an orchestral guest soloist, Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras. She is also an avid chamber musician.
Oppens is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City; she also joined the faculty of Mannes College, the New School, in fall 2017. In 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory. From 1994 through the end of the 2007–2008 academic year she served as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University. She has served as a juror for many international competitions.
Yu-Jane Yang is a Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor, Endowed Scholar/Artist of the College of Arts & Humanities and the Director of Keyboard Studies at Weber State University. Yang is the national recipient of the prestigious 2020 MTNA Teacher of the Year award, recognized with the Outstanding Service Award by NCKP in 2019, named an MTNA Foundation Fellow in 2011, and bestowed with the honor of the UMTA Legacy Award in 2010.
In great demand as a presenter, performer and master class teacher, Yu-Jane is the pianist of the Wasatch Piano Trio, the Weber State University Faculty Piano Trio and the Formosan Violin-Piano Duo, and she has given numerous piano workshops, master classes and concert performances in Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. Yang appears frequently as an adjudicator for piano competitions nationally and internationally, including judging the MTNA Competition National Finals and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition preliminary auditions.
Yang’s piano students have been top prizewinners in both collegiate and pre-college divisions in numerous state, national and international piano competitions, including the national first place winner of the 2010 MTNA Steinway Young Artist Piano Competition and the 2020 Gilmore Young Artist Award national winner. Yu-Jane’s pedagogy students at Weber State University have also won state and national recognitions for their outstanding teaching, including seven state winners of the UMTA Collegiate Student Teacher of the Year, one national winner of the MTNA Studio Teaching Fellowship and four-time national winners of the MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year.
Sara M. Ernst, PhD, NCTM, is an active piano pedagogue, teacher of all ages and pianist. She is associate professor of piano and piano pedagogy and Keyboard Area coordinator at the University of South Carolina. A leader in her field, she currently serves as director of teacher engagement for the Frances Clark Center and formerly as president of South Carolina MTA.
At UofSC, she founded the Center for Piano Studies, which has grown into a vibrant community of piano students. This program features private lessons, group classes, performance opportunities, and festivals, for all ages and stages, and serves as a teaching and research laboratory.
Ernst’s research and scholarship in piano pedagogy includes investigating teaching effectiveness, the use of language in instruction, and best practices in elementary piano instruction and curricula. In addition to her articles, workshops, and conference presentations, she created and designed the first two online courses for the Frances Clark Center, The Beginner Course and The Pianist's Guide to Teaching Online.
Prior positions include administrative director at the New School for Music Study and faculty positions at the Interlochen Arts Camp and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her degrees are from the University of Oklahoma, the University of Missouri-Columbia and Luther College.