Competition Judges

Diane Higgins

Diane W. Higgins is an Independent Piano and Composition Instructor, and she has maintained a music studio in the Charlotte area for over 30 years. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Salem College, where she studied piano with Clemmons Sandresky, music theory and composition with composer, Margaret Vardell Sandresky, and piano pedagogy with Margaret Mueller. Mrs. Higgins has also been a violin member with the Charlotte Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, and Charlotte Civic Orchestra.

As a promoter of teaching composition in the studio, Mrs. Higgins has been invited to present composition sessions to the MTNA National Conference (NYC), State MTA Conferences, pedagogy classes at universities and colleges, and to teachers in local associations. Her composition students have won first place prizes in state, regional, national and international competitions, and several of her student compositions have been published in the National Piano Explorer Magazine, sponsored by Clavier Companion Magazine.

Mrs. Higgins received both the North Carolina Music Teachers Association (NCMTA) Teacher of the Year Award and the UNCG Summer Music Camp Hall of Fame Award in 2012. She received the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) National Foundation Fellow Award in 2007. She served on the Board of Directors of MTNA, President and Director of MTNA Southern Division, and National Chair of the MTNA Local Associations Forum. She is past President of (NCMTA), Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum, and Friends of Music at Queens University of Charlotte. She has served as a board member with the Friends of Music at Salem College, Charlotte Music Club, Charlotte Music Teachers Association, and she was founder/director of the Charlotte Music Career Fair.

For 24 years, Mrs. Higgins has served as a UNCG Piano Camp faculty member.  She holds national certification from MTNA, and she has served as an adjudicator for piano and violin competitions in both North and South Carolina. Her articles and book reviews are published in the American Music Teacher national magazine.

Dr. Esther Park

Pianist Esther Park has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in recitals across the United States as well as Asia and major European cities. Ms. Park has appeared as soloist with many orchestras such as Houston Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, Corpus Christi Symphony, Filharmonia Pomorska, Poland, Orchestra Filarmonica, Romania, Shanghai Philharmonic, China,  Shreveport Symphony, the Juilliard Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphony.   Ms. Park gave a five-city recital tour in Korea, and has performed at the Juilliard Theater in NYC, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Halls’ Weill Recital Hall, Salle Cortot in Paris, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Palau de la Musica, Valencia, Spain and on the Dame Myra Hess Piano Recital Series, Chicago. She has appeared at the Music Academy of the West (Santa Barbara), the Aspen Music Festival, the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine, the Tel-Hai International Music Festival in Israel, and the Van Cliburn-TCU Institute in Texas. Ms. Park has been heard in New York on WQXR Radio station as the winner of the 52nd Kosciusko International Competition and the Gina Bachauer Competition.   Ms. Park has recently formed a piano duo with her sister, Sun-A Park.  Duo Amadeae has since won the Chicago International Duo Piano Competition, and has appeared in numerous festivals, concerto performances and in duo recitals.  The duo has been heard on WQXR as well as part of the Horowitz & Stecher foundation’s piano series.   Ms. Park is the winner of the 2013 Jose Roca International Piano Competition and 2013 Russian International Music Competition. She is the winner of 2009 “Prix Amadeo” and the 2009 Chopin Gesellschaft Klavierwettbewerb. Ms. Park also received top prizes at the 3rd San Marino International Piano Competition, the 3rd China Shanghai International Piano Competition, the 6th Paderewski International Piano Competition, the National Chopin Competition (USA), Hilton Head International Competition, the 14th New Orleans International Piano Competition and is the recipient of the President Clinton’s Prodigy Award.   Born in Pusan, Korea, Ms. Park began to play in public soon after her first piano lessons at the age of four. Ms. Park moved to the United States in 1995, after being accepted to the Juilliard School’s Pre-College division. Ms. Park has completed the undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Juilliard School, studying with Yoheved Kaplinsky. Ms Park has also studied at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater, Hannover, under the tutelage of Mr. Bernd Goetzke. Ms Park has since received the Artist Diploma, Master of Musical Arts degrees and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at the Yale School of Music under the guidance of Mr. Boris Berman. Since 2015, Ms. Park has been serving as the assistant professor of piano and the director of Pre-College program at the East Tennessee State University.

Susan Kincaid

A native of Charleston, S.C., Susan Kincaid has had a distinguished career as a teacher, performer and non-profit arts executive.  She held several leadership positions at one of the nation’s premier music schools, Chicago’s historic Sherwood Conservatory of Music, including ten years as Executive Director. Upon relocating to North Carolina in 2001 she was a consultant for the Community School of the Arts in Charlotte NC, in a 2-year project to create a new Music Division, then serving as CSA’s Vice President for Arts Education and Music Chair.   After moving to Hendersonville in 2007 she became involved in consulting projects for arts organizations and joined the music staff at Warren Wilson College. In addition to being College Accompanist, Kincaid is Pianist for Saluda Presbyterian Church and performs recitals with vocalists in the region.   Ms. Kincaid’s academic and performing experience includes piano faculty positions at the University of North Carolina, Detroit Community Music School, Toledo University (OH) and Bowling Green State University (OH).  She also operated an independent piano studio in several Midwestern cities—teaching children and adults, performing solo recitals and chamber music concerts, giving teacher-training seminars and judging piano competitions.   A frequent collaborative performer, Susan Kincaid was the pianist for several acclaimed performing ensembles, including the Detroit Woodwind Quintet and the Chicago Arts Quartet. She was the concert accompanist for Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Don Moline, the accompanist for Northwestern University’s brass department and pianist for classes by famed ballet masters Ellis Duboulay and Maria Tallchief.   Ms. Kincaid received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Winthrop University and completed her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance coursework at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Additional study was at the University of Michigan and Indiana University.

Dr. Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart is Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1970-2016). At UNCG, he taught piano, piano pedagogy, and was the Keyboard Area Director. He earned the BM in piano performance and the BM in Music Education from Indiana University. His graduate degrees are the Master of Music in piano performance from the University of Illinois and the Doctor of Music piano performance degree from Florida State University. As a long time active member of NCMTA, Dr. Stewart has served as Vice President for State Conventions, local State Convention Chairman, and State President. He has also served as Music Teachers National Association Southern Division President, National MTNA American Music Program Chairman, MTNA National Board of Directors member, MTNA Foundation Trustee, National MTNA Convention Program Chair for the 2000 (Minneapolis) and 2001(Washington, D.C.) conventions and National MTNA President from 2005 to 2007.  October 2009, he served as local site chair for the 50th anniversary NCMTA State Conference on the UNCG Campus As an active performer, he has appeared as piano soloist with the North Carolina Symphony four times, given numerous solo and Chamber Music recitals, and appeared on most of the programs of the three-day UNCG Focus on Piano Literature. For the June, 2000 Focus on Piano Literature, Dr. Stewart commissioned and performed Jupiter’s Moons, a six-movement work by Judith Lang Zaimont. His interest in Ragtime music dates back to the 1970s and he frequently includes Ragtime and Ragtime related literature on his solo piano recitals. Paul Stewart has performed Classic Piano Ragtime in Manchester, England and in Bologna, Italy for International music conferences. He presented his Seminar, “Bands, Bars, and Banjos: influences on Ragtime,” for the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival, Sedalia, Missouri. He has also appeared at the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival, Boulder, Colorado and this past summer at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in California.

Dr. Wayne Smith

O. Wayne Smith moved to the Asheville area in August 2016 from Kansas City, Missouri, where he was an active solo pianist, accompanist, teacher and church organist. His formal music study concentrated on piano performance (DMA from the University of Maryland, College Park). Piano performances include a solo recital for former First Lady, Mrs. Gerald Ford; a recital for the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (broadcast worldwide on Voice of America); and recitals for various Washington diplomatic occasions. Solo orchestral appearances include the Dallas Symphony, the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Independence Symphony (Missouri) and the Graceland College-Community Orchestra (Iowa). He has performed as both piano soloist and accompanist on many concert series throughout the Kansas City area. Dr. Smith taught piano for Graceland College, Lamoni, Iowa (five years), and was a co-founder and piano division chair for the Music/Arts Institute, Independence, Missouri (twenty years) and later maintained a private piano studio. Wayne was an accompanist for the Kansas City Ballet’s youth outreach program entitled “Reach Out And Dance”, and was the staff accompanist for The William Baker Festival Singers of Kansas City. Wayne was organist/pianist for Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kansas, and was a staff organist for the Community of Christ Auditorium and Temple in Independence.

Dr. Teresa Sumpter

Dr. Teresa Sumpter is currently the Chair of the Department of Music and Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Mars Hill University where she teaches applied piano, group piano, piano literature, piano pedagogy, and music history.  She holds a Ph.D. in Music Education with an emphasis in Piano Pedagogy and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma.  Her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance is from Ball State University.  She also holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from West Virginia University.  Teresa has performed, adjudicated, and presented throughout the country.  Recent performances include recitals on the Pianoforte Series in Asheville, NC, Carson-Newman University, Winthrop University, and Friends of Music Concert Series at Montreat College.  She has been a frequent adjudicator for the North Carolina Music Teachers Association district and state piano contests since her arrival in the area in 2008.
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