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[VIDEO] New Directions For Ingrid Stölzel

Julie Denesha

The new director of the International Center for Music at Park University says the young musicians who study in the program often arrive with the same dream. 

A place for focused practice and performance

Over the last decade, Park University in Parkville, Missouri has built a music program with an international reach. But Kansas City-based composer Ingrid Stölzel says the International Center for Musicat Park is still one of the region’s best kept secrets. Stölzel was recently named the new director, and says she has plans to increase the visibility of the program.

"And so that is one of my first steps as director is (to) make sure people know about the International Center For Music and how wonderful our students are and also the faculty that is here," says Stölzel. "As far as long-term range, I would love to establish the center as one of those premiere, small places where students can come to focus on advanced musical performance."

"So, really, as you can tell, our space is really wonderful for focused practice time, and our degrees are designed in a way that the students have maximum to work on their art form."

Growing as musicians

The budding performance program – founded by Van Cliburn Award-winning pianist, associate professor, and Artistic Director Stanislav Ioudenitch - draws an accomplished mix of music students and faculty from around the world. The school is located on the Park campus, in the basement of Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, and currently has about 20 students from Germany, Uzbekistan, Sweden, China, and Russia.

Artem Kuznetsov, from Saratov, Russia, is working on his bachelor's degree in piano performance. Kuznetsov recently won the Silver Medal in the Collegiate Piano Division at the 2013 International Crescendo Music Awards Competition.

"All of the professors are world-class," says Kuznetsov. "Because the program is pretty small, we have the opportunity to have more time with them and to grow up as musicians faster.”

"The students that come here all have a common goal in mind and it kind of creates this cohesion. All of the students are here to really pursue the same dream, and I find that that creates really like a small family here," says Stölzel. "We're all working together on accomplishing the same thing, so I think, sometimes, being small has its real advantages."

"And, of course, the campus at Park University, all our students live on campus, mostly, and so they come. They have access to the performance space, and to the practice room 24/7, so it really, I think, breeds this very dedicated, young musician."

Pursuing a dream, far or close to home

For many students, this is their first time living in the United States. That's a point of connection for Stölzel, a native of Germany who moved to Kansas City to study at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

"I've been in this country for twenty years; I can really relate to the students," says Stölzel. "That first time they get here and it's a new country and everything is new. Talking about music in English is different, so it can be exciting and an adventure for everybody and we are all kind of in the same boat." She adds with a laugh, "Although now we don't come over in a boat anymore."

But not all students come to ICM from abroad. David Radzynski was fresh from his master's degree at the Yale School of music when he heard about the school from a family friend. Radzynski is a 2013 Semi-finalist for the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, Queenstown, New Zealand. The upcoming competition is in June 2013.

“This friend of ours, he’s a violist," says Radzynski. "And he told me, 'You know, after you get your master’s, you should play for him, you should play for professor (Ben) Sayevitch, and he’s a wonderful teacher.' And I instantly, I knew exactly this is the person I need to study with."

"What professor Sayevitch told me was the way the work it’s not so much teacher-student, but we work as a team, which is very nice."

Striking a personal and professional balance

Stölzel says it takes an amazing amount of focus to perform at this level and, more is demanded from them. Stölzel's own professional work as a composer has earned a number of honors and awards and her compositions are performed worldwide. And she says it has taken time to grow into the many roles she plays as composer, professor and now director."

"Being a director here of ICM and being a composer works wonderfully together, because as a working musician, I feel I also have something to share with our students in terms of how to build a career, how to get performances," says Stölzel.

"Yes, as a composer, it's a little bit different, but those kinds of things, how to market yourself, and how important it is nowadays to be able to speak intelligently about music and be on stage not just performing, but giving lectures, and musicians now do so much more than they used to do."

"We feel music. We want to be moved by music. And I find that these young musicians have amazing talent and have that drive to want to move audiences."

Stölzel says that she hopes the shared experience at ICM between teacher and student, musicians and their audience, will only continue to extend the program's influence.

International Center for Music Student Showcase concert, Saturday, April 27, 7:30 - 9:30 pm, Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, on the campus of Park University, Parkville, Mo. Find out more about upcoming performances here.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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