A concert featuring German pianist Alexander Schimpf will highlight Hollins University’s official recognition of its “All-Steinway School” designation during Hollins’ annual Founder’s Day celebration on Thursday, February 20.
Schimpf, whom the German daily newspaper Westfälische Nachrichten described as “a charismatic musical artist…a sensitive interpreter with great artistic maturity,” will perform that evening at 7:30 p.m. in duPont Chapel.
With the delivery last summer of seven instruments designed by Steinway & Sons, the company regarded as the world’s finest piano maker, Hollins joined George Mason University, James Madison University, Radford University, and Episcopal High School in Alexandria as Virginia’s only “All-Steinway Schools.” Worldwide, just over 150 conservatories, colleges and universities, and other schools of distinction have earned this designation. At least 95 percent of an institution’s instruments must carry the Steinway brand and must be in good condition to qualify for the recognition.
Schimpf rose to prominence by winning a series of impressive competitions, including the 2008 German Music Competition (an achievement no pianist had earned for 14 years), the 2009 International Beethoven Competition in Vienna, and the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition, where his final round performance with the renowned Cleveland Orchestra was given a standing ovation and received the Audience Favorite Prize. He has appeared in recital in France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, England, and South America, and made his debut performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in December 2011. His engagements through 2013 featured appearances as a soloist with the St. Petersburg Marinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie in Frankfurt, and the Dresden Philharmonic. He gave recital performances at the International Keyboard Festival in New York and the International Chopin Festival in Poland.
Each year, Hollins’ Founder’s Day event celebrates the birth of Charles Lewis Cocke, who served as president of Hollins from 1846 until his death in 1901. Even though Cocke came to Hollins after its establishment in 1842, he is considered the school’s founder because the institution would not have survived without his leadership during financial crises, disease epidemics, the Civil War, and other challenges.
This year’s program on February 20 begins with the Founder’s Day convocation at 4:30 p.m. in duPont Chapel. It will feature performances by the Hollins University Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, music faculty, and students with Steinway pianos. Associate Professor of English T. J. Anderson will present an original jazz poem written for the occasion and Professor of Music Judith Cline will deliver a brief address.