Great news from the latest State competition!

Great latest news from the Stamford Music and Arts Academy: two of the piano division students have passed preliminary State level competition. The first prize in Junior Division is given to Stephanie Chang, who is a well trained prodigy product of the Academy from her childhood years. Stephanie will represent Connecticut at the Eastern Division Competition in Boston on January 2017. Her program included works of Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel.

Stephanie Chang concert stage… appearances reveal already an established musician artist. It is unbelievable to witness such impressive achievement of this young girl in her teenage years. It all comes as a result of hard work and patience which has to become a necessary addition in polishing a good talent. Also it should be supported by the real inner effort of the student to become a performing artist, which is also a gift besides of being a talented child.

The second prize winner at the State Competition Senior Division is Gyan Singh Maria, who is also a student of the Stamford Music and Arts Academy. He performed compositions of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Shostakovich. Gyan recently returned back from Europe, Hungary, winning there the First Prize among the young artists on the International Piano Concerto Competition. Now he is invited to perform the Second Concerto of Rachmaninov in Budapest with the orchestra as a winner of the First Prize.

We are proud to acknowledge that both of these young artists already familiar with the best performing stages as Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall by Lincoln Center.

The next step for two of these winners is in January, when they will continue competition already on the interstate level. We cannot wait for this special moment when they will participate and compete among the well trained in classical music best young artists of eleven states.

By | November 4th, 2016|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Great news from the latest State competition!

Student Annling Wang – Winner of 2015 SYAP

Stamford Music & Arts Academy is happy to present SMAA Student ANNLING WANG – winner of 2015 SYAP  Concerto Competition – performing Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto on Sunday March 6th, 2016 with Young  Artists Philharmonic Orchestra. Location: Auditorium at Westhill High School in  Stamford. Concert begins at 4:00 pm. Students are free. Please come and bring family and friends.
You can find Flyer Invitation here:

Also you can read about Annling:

Hope to see you there! 🙂

By | February 25th, 2016|News|Comments Off on Student Annling Wang – Winner of 2015 SYAP

Congratulations to all winners of Audrey Thayer Competition, Hartford, CT

Congratulations to all winners of Audrey Thayer Competition, Hartford, CT
Benjamin Wu – HM Grade 3
Preston Yao – 1st Prize Grade 5
Dicheng Wu – 2nd Prize Grade 6
Riya Krishnan – 2nd Prize Grade 7
Verna Yin – 1st Prize Grade 8

Congratulations to Stephanie Chang (1st Prize) and Wendy Zhan (3rd Prize) with winning Piano Teachers Congress of NY Competition!

By | June 10th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Congratulations to all winners of Audrey Thayer Competition, Hartford, CT

Riverside 6 Years Old

Greenwich Citizen News
Monday, September 10, 2012

Musical prodigy: Riverside 6-year-old is a natural when she sits at the piano

When Riverside resident Stephanie Chang sits at the piano, the fingers of her small hands glide effortlessly over the keys — hand over hand and up and down the keyboard they move. Her feet just reach pedals, which have been specially raised on her family’s Yamaha piano to accommodate the length of the six-year-old, first-grader’s legs.

The young virtuoso, who just entered first grade at North Mianus School, recently was invited to perform in three concerts in Connecticut and New York City before the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Her recent appearances as a solo pianist include performances at the Mystic Arts Center, the Christ and St. Stephen’s Church in New York City and Tunxis Community College in Farmington.

“She loves to be on stage, says her mother, Linda Chang. “She’s a very shy person, but when it comes to the piano, she’s a different person.”

Stephanie has been learning to play the piano since she was four. According to her mom, she first showed her musical aptitude when she was just three years old. “She was correcting her big brother’s piano playing!” says Linda. “She was telling him, `That’s the wrong note!'”

(Turns out that her brother James, a seventh grader at Eastern Middle School, is a star musician himself, a saxophone player, and one of the youngest players in the school’s jazz band.)

What was key with Stephanie was finding just the right teacher, her mom says. Svitlana Fiorito of Stamford turned out to be the right fit. She not only was passionate about music, Chang says, “She has Stephanie make up fun stories to go with the music.”

“Stephanie is a quiet girl, but very strong inside,” says her instructor. “She doesn’t speak much in lessons.” With her years of experience in teaching young children, Fiorito found the way to reach Stephanie — by engaging her in story-telling. “I needed to reach her soul,” says the instructor.

To learn the three-movement piano concerto by composer Nicolai Silvansky, Fiorito said that she told Stephanie “to go home and tell a story while the music is moving, then write the story down on paper.”

“She made a wonderful story for the concerto. It’s about a bunny rabbit that wanted to be in the woods and gets lost. The mother goes to look for him and finds him. So, each part of the music she was telling herself the story, and at the concert she played the music through in 7 to 8 minutes.”

Fiorito is now teaching Stephanie Chopin’s Polonaise. “It’s very loving, caring, feeling music because the music is all about love,” she says. “This is the problem with small children who are getting advanced in technique — we are forced to give them pieces that are above their emotional level. I have to communicate with her in a way that she understands,” the instructor adds.

Chang says of Fiorito, “Her teaching has led my daughter into the world of classical music, weaving Bach and Mozart into her dreams. We are very lucky to find a teacher like her for Stephanie.”

But there are physical challenges for such a little girl playing such big music. There’s the footstool to support her feet to reach the raised pedals. She does special exercises to stretch her hands so she can play Chopin and other master composers. And finger exercises are part of Stephanie’s regimen. “There are a lot of injuries with piano players,” says her mother, “if they don’t use the proper position.” A bit of improvising goes into playing certain chords, she adds. “Her hand isn’t large enough to connect the keys.” A less important note will be taken out, for example, or, “Stephanie will pick up her hand and then play the given key.”

When she performed the Bach Prelude earlier this year at the Connecticut State Music Teachers Association Competition, she was the winner in the 6- to 9-year-old age group.

Stephanie puts Johann Sebastian Bach at the top of her list of favorite composers, she says, “Because his music is deep and tricky, requiring a lot of thinking. There are multiple voices, with left hand and right hand playing separate melodies as if they were talking to each other!”

Bach’s sense of humor appeals to her. “He used to say it’s easy to play any musical instrument — all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time, and the instrument will play itself. That’s what I am trying to do, too!” the young pianist says.

Frederic Chopin is her second favorite and she listens to his Nocturnes every night before she goes to sleep. “His music is so gentle,” she says. “It calms me, it makes me feel very cozy.”

Stephanie says her third favorite composer is Muzio Clementi. “I played many of Clementi’s Sonatinas; they are so fun, and I can make up a lot of fun stories to go with his music.” When a person is sad, she said, “Clementi’s music can make him happy!”

Fiorito says, “Stephanie’s next dream is to play at Carnegie Hall.”

And the instructor doesn’t doubt it one bit. “That,” the teacher says, “is going to happen.”

By | September 10th, 2012|News|Comments Off on Riverside 6 Years Old

Golden Girl

Greenwich “The Daily”
Friday. June 3. 2011


Layla Kurbanov, a second grade student at Whitby school, won the Gold medal in the children ages 5-7 years old piano category on May 1st at the Golden Key Music Festival held at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. The Golden Key Music Festivals are designed to educate and inspire student musicians plus help them unlock their musical potential. Held in Barcelona and Vienna as well as in the New York, the festivals and associated competitions provide opportunities to meet and hear other dedicated young musicians and to perform on some of the most prestigious stages. Layla is the daughter of Oktay and Olga Kurbanov of Greenwich.

by Anna Helhoski

By | June 3rd, 2011|News|Comments Off on Golden Girl

Piano Prodigy

The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains – Fanwood TIMES
Thursday, March 17, 2011 Page 19

Piano Prodigy Blumer Plays
Concerto with Symphony

Charles Prince, Conductor; Seth Blumer, Pianist
Specially Written for The Westfield leader and The Times

PLAINFIELD – What were you doing in elementary school? If your name is Seth Blumer, you were playing the piano in Carnegie Hall, winning competitions, and playing a concerto with the Plainfield Symphony. This 6th grader performed Bach’s Piano Concerto in d minor (BWV 1052) on Saturday, March 5, at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church playing with excellent technique and musical insight. It is not all that unusual for youngsters to have excellent technical capabilities at early ages – little “prodigies” abound – but there is more to making music than playing the notes.

Young Mr. Blumer plays with the native musical insight that musicians can only be born with – no amount of coaching can substitute for the innate understanding of where a phrase goes.

When you couple that with good technical training, the prodigy becomes a musician, and that is certainly what he is. Seth performed the Bach with energy and finesse and a real sense of purpose and understanding. If you weren’t looking, you would never have known that the performer was only 11- years old. And lest you think that he is too serious for his own good, (he is 11-years old, after all), he played a fun bluesy encore by jazz pianist Joe Utterback. Guess he can still enjoy being a kid!

As an aside, I would like to say that it was good to see a student playing a work of a technical level at which he can excel. Too many teachers give students works, which are too difficult and let them slop through. One will never learn to play with nuance or control if it’s all you can do to just get the notes out. I was glad to see him playing Bach, not attempting Brahms or Rachmaninoff. There will be time for that later, and he will be ready for them when that time comes. He was not playing alone, of course. The Plainfield Symphony, an excellent community orchestra, was an able accompanist, and its players seemed to enjoy making music with their young soloist, who was always attentive to the conductor and the ensemble.

The program opened with Rossini’s familiar overture to the opera La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie), a cheerful, lively piece, which gives the orchestra plenty to do without being too taxing. The big work came in the second half – Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. This is a challenging piece even for professionals, and was a stretch for a community orchestra. But the point of a community orchestra, after all, is to give good amateurs (along with a few added professionals) a chance to play major works of this type. There were many sections, which came off beautifully, and although I thought the fast tempo of the last movement pushed the envelope a bit, it was full of energy and power. Charles Prince’s conducting was always clear and precise (you would think that would be a given, but it’s not) and he was not afraid to ask his orchestra to play up to their full potential.

Intonation problems did crop up in the difficult places, and there were some balance issues in the ensemble as a whole. Nonetheless, the players and their audience had a wonderful evening, and it was nice to see an enthusiastic full house in attendance. A community orchestra like this serves an important function, and it is wonderful to see that it has the support of its community.

By | March 17th, 2011|News|Comments Off on Piano Prodigy

Music Rocks

Kennedy Center for the Arts, Millenium Stage
Saturday. July 31. 2010

“Classical Music Rocks!!!”

One more time I want to extend my most heart-felt thanks to the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for injecting some attractive live music in Washington during this culturally lackluster summer. This evening, it was the International Young Artist Piano Competition which was presenting its young prodigies, and when I say young I mean between the ages of 7 and 18. Founded by Li-Ly Chang in 1986, its goal is not only to encourage budding musicians to work on their craft, but also to build a bridge between Western and Eastern cultures. Accordingly, today we heard all Chinese students (or of Chinese descent) performing Western and Chinese pieces.

The seven young artists were appearing on the stage from the youngest to the oldest, and seeing how much of a difference even a couple of years can make was as interesting as astounding. The first pianist was 7-year old Gloria Cai, who was resplendent in her bright red dress and her sparkling silver shoes. Non-plussed by the large audience, she delivered her short Mozart piece with endearing graciousness.

One funny thing to notice was that as the skills became more and more pronounced and nuanced with the performer’s age, and the biographies predictably more impressive, the outfits turned out to be more subtle and sophisticated too, all the way to the delicately bead-embedded black dress donned by 17-year old Sangmi Yoon. Her Capriccio by Li-Ly Chang was fun and infectious.

Among this rainbow of colors (each female musician had a different color dress), 14-year old Michael Mei stood out as not only the only male of the group, but also the most remarkable musician of them all. His treatment of Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise clearly demonstrated solid talent and unflappable poise, and has been one of my summer’s highlights so far.

Kennedy Center reviews from Isabelle

By | July 31st, 2010|News|Comments Off on Music Rocks

Northeast Student

“The Advocate”
Tuesday. May 18. 2010

STAMFORD — In a brightly lit corner of the Blumers’ living room, a young pianist worked patiently to achieve the sound and meaning Franz Liszt intended for a passage of his “Waldesrauschen (Forest Murmurs).”

“Seth, this has to be dreamy,” said Svitlana Fiorito, 34, as she wrote a note on sheet music propped up before her student. “Everybody is going to sleep. The trees, the animals, the beasts, they are all sleeping.”

Carefully, Seth Blumer, 11, adjusted his play, extending his fingers and slowing his pace as his teacher gently lifted his right hand to direct his fingers to the keys, making sure he played with the proper pressure and duration.

This Sunday afternoon practice was a study in Seth’s attention and dedication to the instrument he has been playing since 5 years old, seriously since he was 7. To a casual observer, his first run-through of the piece, which appeared to be flawless, made it easy to see how he has received first-place honors and gold prizes in many competitions, including the recent Young Pianist Competition of New Jersey.

It also was an example of the skill that earned him a chance to play at Carnegie Hall.

But for this Northeast Elementary School fifth-grader, the Sunday session was a chance to get the piece just right and ready for the special recital he will be performing at his school at 7 p.m. Friday. The program also will feature a jazz composition “Daytune Blues” by Stratford resident Joe Utterback, as well as other classical music pieces, including those from Beethoven, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Bach and Chopin.

Seth, who aspires to be a concert pianist, said he hopes his peers, their parents and members of the school and larger community will participate in the concert by buying tickets to help raise money for the school’s music program. Seth plans to donate 100 percent of the proceeds, which he hopes tops $10,000.

Seth sees it as his way of giving back to his school and helping others pick up a new instrument. He recalled once learning that a classmate was unable to play cello because the school did not have a cello for him to use. “It saddened me that he was not able to play an instrument he wanted to play,” Seth said.

Ethan Margolis, Northeast’s principal, said the money raised at the recital would help the school in financing repairs to its inventory of instruments, which would help get more instruments to more students. “He is a very special kid,” Margolis said of Seth, who has attended the school since he was in kindergarten. “We’ve been able to watch him grow and grow and grow.”

In the last two years, Seth has grown considerably as a musician, which he attributes to a summer music camp at Colgate University that he attended several years ago.

“It made my love stronger, and I began to play deeper,” he said of the camp, noting that he went up from the half-hour practice to several hours a day. “After I came back from Colgate, I knew I wanted to get better.”

On an average day, Seth gets up at about 6 a.m. to squeeze in some practice before going to school. It means his parents, Dionne and Fred, have no need for an alarm clock. “It is a lovely way to wake up in the morning,” Seth’s mother said. He practices after school, as well, but his parents make sure he has time to keep up with other interests. He appears to be a fan of most sports, he likes to keep up with friends, and he has excelled in karate, with a bookshelf of trophies to prove it.

Both he and his parents noted that the discipline and focus he has gained while studying at Ryokubi Dojo in Stamford has been a tremendous help in keeping him on task as he practices and gives him an inner calm when he performs at competitions and in large halls.
Still, practice gets one only so far.

“I regard him as a prodigy,” said Fiorito, whose studio is in Stamford.

“It is a combination of natural talent, hard work, dedication and the fact that he wants to do this,” she added. “What also is important is his mom and dad’s involvement. They are carefully leading him to this field, and they listen to my suggestions.”

By Christina Hennessy, Staff Writer

By | May 18th, 2010|News|Comments Off on Northeast Student

Shaping Prodigies

“The Advocate”
Sunday. August 10. 2008

Svitlana Fiorito snaps her fingers emphatically as her student, Sean Lee, performs the closing section of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Rondo Brilliante”, an up-tempo, Romantic-era piano piece with dynamic tonal shifts. There are few 13-years-old with the skills – like his rapid finger movements and quick reaction time – to perform such a complex piece. But he wasn’t always this sharp.

“The first year with him was hard,” says Fiorito, who gives lessons on the ground floor of her Stamford home. “His hand position was out of control.”

But after just two years of instruction from Fiorito, Lee won the International Piano Competition in Puigcerda, Spain, and later performed with Greenwich Symphony Orchestra for Mozart’s 250 Birthday Celebration Concert.

Lee, a seven-grader at Middlesex Middle School in darien, is one of several local piano students Fiorito has fashioned into award-winning child prodigies. There’s also 8-year-old Annling Wang of Stamford, who won the Washington International Young Artist Piano Competition in June and will perform for Condoleezza Rice at the U.S. State Department on Wednesday. And 7-year-old Sean Yu of Stamford, who recently won the Young Pianist Competition of New Jersey and Performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Fiorito, who began her own musical journey as a child prodigy, credits these achievements to a pedagogical approach that draws on teaching methods from her native Russia and Western world. Taking inspiration from Russian system, Fiorito beginsteaching children as young as 4.

“I pay a lot of attention to kids at a very young age” says Fiorito, who started playing when she was 5.”If they can learn the letter alphabet, they can learn the musical alphabet.”

In a Western-style approach, Fiorito holds informal lessons and makes it a point to develop friendly relationship with her students. Fiorito says that by gaining their trust and maintaining a welcoming atmosphere, students are more inclined to listen.

“We don’t just talk about music, but also about their hobbies and priorities – about their lives,” says Fiorito. in a move that would make her Russian teachers shriek, Fiorito asks parents to sit in on lessons. The benefit, Fiorito says, is that parents can supervise and encourage their children and ensure they are practicing properly at home.

“I don’t treat lessons like a drop-off, like when some parents leave their kids to go grocery shopping or for a walk in the park,” she says.’Parents have to stay here. They’ve got to sit. They’ve got to watch and observe.”
Donk-Ok Lee, Sean Lee’s mother, admires Fiorito’s nurturing approach.

“She cares about her students and comforts them,” she says. “It’s not like kids are by themselves. They become one team and develop things together.”

Fiorito doesn’t just teach child prodigies – she has about 30 students who she considers “very,very good.” Among them is Stephanie Stich, a Greenwich High School senior who has taken lessons from Fiorito since she was 14.

“She really puts everything into teaching, she really dedicates herself,” says Stich, who won the top prize at the Connecticut State Music Teacher’s Association Competition in May. “You put in the hard work, she puts in the hard work, you get results.”

Fiorito, 32, first started playing piano as an elementary student in her hometown, Prokopievsk, a small city in Western Siberia. After moving with her family to Kharkov, Ukraine, when she was 12, Fiorito continued playing and eventually enrolled in the Institute of Music at the National Academy of Arts in Kharkov, where she went on to become, a member of the school’s faculty.

Students like Stich often think of her as a second mom. Like a proud mother who tacks A-plus papers to the family fridge, Fiorito keeps notices of her student’s achievements on the bulletin boards of her lesson room.

Says Fiorito: “I have a lot of kids! After a full day of teaching, and dealing with kids and educating parents, i really feel like I do.”

By Scott Gargan, special correspondent

By | August 10th, 2008|News|Comments Off on Shaping Prodigies