Pianists from across the country come to Lakeland for a three day celebration of music.

If music is food for the soul, then Central Florida is a smorgasbord!  From daily live carillon concerts at Bok Tower Gardens, to our award-winning community theatres, there’s no shortage of options for lovers of live music.

A case in point, is the inaugural Swan City Piano Festival which aims to engage the vibrant arts culture of Lakeland through a multi-day celebration of pianists and piano repertoire, past and present. The Festival champions aesthetically-diverse pianists from around the country with unique musical and curatorial voices, and commissions composers to write new works that cultivate a living repertoire.

Piano Festival Guest Artists

Nationally-recognized pianists will join forces with community members to bring the public three days of concerts, masterclasses and social events.

Yvonne Chen, Pianist

From performing in hospital hallways to Carnegie Hall, Taiwanese-American pianist Yvonne Chen enjoys programming site-specific performances, as well as creating a logical yet balanced array of music blending the traditional with the avant-garde in a single program. A recipient of the 2016 Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award, Chen’s innovative programming includes “An Exploration of Harpsichord Music from the 20th Century”, ”MADNESS" featuring Rzewski's de profundis for speaking pianist, and a recital of solo piano works featured in and inspired by the novels of Haruki Murakami.

Maxwell Foster 2

Maxwell Foster, Pianist

A native of Brisbane, Australia, pianist Maxwell Foster started studying the piano at the age of three.  Maxwell has made numerous appearances at Hammer Hall, the Sydney Opera House, the Perth Concert Hall, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, and has performed at such international venues as Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall. After moving to Melbourne at the age of twelve, Maxwell attended the Australian National Academy of Music under the guidance of Rita Reichman.  During his time in Melbourne, Maxwell became a staple amongst the classical music community, winning the Young Performer of the Year award and regularly appearing in the concert seasons of every major Orchestra in Australia.  Maxwell is now pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins under the guidance of Yong-hi Moon.

Alexia Riner

Alexia Riner, Composer

Alexia Riner is an LA-based electronic producer and DJ who specializes in building complex soundscapes, and pairing them with her soft, luscious vocal lines. She also creates interactive experiences fusing music, technology and other mediums. A graduate of Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland, FL, Alexia went on to receive a dual-degree in Electronic Production & Sound Design and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Since the release of her debut album Darknet, she has performed both in the US and internationally, produced for artists such as Madame Gandhi, and worked on sound design for companies such as Native Instruments. 

Liliya Ugay, Composer

Liliya Ugay is Assistant Professor of Composition at the Florida State University College of Music. Described as "particularly evocative…fluid and theatrical” (The Arts Fuse) as well as both "assertive and steely," and "lovely, subtle writing" (Wall Street Journal), her music has been performed in many countries around the globe. Ugay has collaborated with the Nashville Symphony, Albany Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, Yale Philharmonia, Raleigh Civic Symphony, among others. Her compositions have been featured at the Aspen, Norfolk, Cultivate, American Composers, Chelsea, June in Buffalo, and Darmstadt New Music festivals, as well as the 52nd Venice Biennale.  Liliya has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Yale University, and the Woodruff Foundation. Originally from Uzbekistan, Liliya is currently a composer-in-residence at the American Lyric Theater working on a full-length opera with Julian Crouch and at the Washington National Opera working on a one-act opera with Sokunthary Svay. 

Piano Festival Schedule

Opening Night Party

Wednesday, March 25 | 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. | The Yard on Mass

The Festival kicks off with a casual chance to meet the artists, and enjoy Lakeland’s premier food truck park and beer garden. Enjoy live performances by Jessie Cohen and Carl Fleitz, and a DJ set by festival composer-in-residence Alexia Riner. 

Admission is free. 

Composer Presentations – Alexia Riner & Liliya Ugay

Thursday, March 26 | 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Lakeland Public Library

Festival guest composers Alexia Riner and Liliya Ugay discuss their work, and compare their wildly different approaches to music and careers in the industry.  

Admission is free. 

Maxwell Foster Solo Recital

Thursday, March 26 | 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. | Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

Join Maxwell Foster, an Australian pianist, as he presents a program in solo piano works, featuring a world premiere by composer Liliya Ugay.  Snacks and pre-concert talk, led by Robert Fleitz, will begin at 6:30 p.m.

General $15 // Students, Seniors, and Under 25 $10. Recital admission is included when you purchase a Festival Pass (read below).

Piano Masterclass with Maxwell Foster

Friday, March 27 | 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. | Lakeland Public Library

Maxwell Foster, who is perusing his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano from the Peabody Conservatory, will lead this interactive public piano masterclass.  Foster will be joined by young local pianists.

Admission is free.

Yvonne Chen Solo Recital

Friday, March 27 | 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. | Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

Join Yvonne Chen as she presents a program of recent solo piano works, featuring a world premiere by composer Alexia Riner.  Snacks and pre-concert talk, led by Robert Fleitz, will begin at 6:30 p.m.

General $15 // Students, Seniors, and Under 25 $10. Recital admission is included when you purchase a Festival Pass (read below).

Festival Admission

Admission is free for some events. General admission for recitals on March 26 and 27 is $15.00, while Students, Seniors and Under 25 can get in for $10.00. Purchase a Festival Pass and admission to both recitals are included. Festival Pass admission is $25.00, while while Students, Seniors and Under 25 will be charged $15.00.

To learn more about the Swan City Festival, and to get your tickets, visit swancitypianofestival.com.