Frederic Chiu Bringing “Classical Smackdown” to NKU SOTA

NKU_Smackdown logoHIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY – Get ready to rumble as world-renowned pianist Frederic Chiu brings an epic classical piano showdown of Prokofiev versus Debussy to Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts. The concert will take place on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 at 7 p.m. at NKU’s Greaves Concert Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. Funding for this program has been made possible by the Ohio Music Teachers Association – Southwest District, the Northern Kentucky Music Teachers Association, and NKU SOTA’s Visiting Artist Fund as part of the Annual Winter Piano Pedagogy Conference.

Inspired by reality talent shows like “American Idol,” “Classical Smackdown” is a “tongue-in-cheek wrestling match” between contrasting composers with the audience voting for their favorite composer during the concert. The format is built so that any novice or professional can come and have an opinion. The program for Prokofiev-Debussy is arranged in four “rounds” of pieces specifically to provide an opportunity to compare and contrast.

Additionally, Frederic will present a session on “New Pedal Techniques” at 10:30 a.m. and facilitate a Masterclass at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 for students and teachers in Greaves Hall on the second day of the Conference. All events are free and open to the public. Advanced registration at is encouraged.

Frederic Chiu has recorded the most extensive complete piano works of Prokofiev, and his personal relationship with the Prokofiev family has made him a world-recognized advocate of the composer. Across 28 albums, he has recorded works of Chopin, Liszt, Ravel, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Rossini, and Grieg, and most recently, the Beethoven/Liszt Symphonies V and VII. “Hymns and Dervishes,” music of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann, Distant Voices: Music of Claude Debussy & Gao Ping and Schubert’s Fantasy for Violin and Piano demonstrate his vast legacy in recording.

His innovative programming includes “Classical Smackdown,” where composers face off in head-to-head comparisons, with listeners voting for their favorite composer: Debussy vs. Prokofiev, Bach vs. Glass, etc. Results tracked at With his wife, Jeanine Esposito, he co-created the arts non-profit, Beechwood Arts & Innovation, to explore collaboration across art genres and the use of the arts and technology to create community. His innovative vision of Romeo & Juliet – The Choice, an immersive, interactive production of the famous Prokofiev ballet, debuted in 2018. Frederic teaches at both Carnegie Mellon University and The Hartt School. •

The Northern Kentucky Winter Pedagogy Conference has drawn local music teachers to the NKU campus to discuss important topics pertinent to music education for the past eleven years. The conference is co-sponsored by the Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts Music Program, Northern Kentucky Music Teachers Association, and the Ohio Music Teachers Association – Southwest District. Funds for the conference are provided by OhioMTA-SW, NKyMTA, and NKU-SOTA, allowing the conference to be offered at no charge to members of the community.

SOTA is the Creative Engine of NKU. The School of the Arts combines Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts to bring unparalleled artistic opportunities to current and future students. In a changing world, SOTA prepares students to be creative trailblazers in the Arts and their careers. Whether we are creating motion graphics, producing on the stage, or utilizing our dance classes to collaborate with therapeutic exercise in health sciences, we are on the cutting edge of transdisciplinary studies. SOTA offers 11 degrees with 30 specializations in addition to 7 minors to develop graduates that are personally engaged, innovative, and curious with advanced skillsets in collaboration and creative risk-taking.

For more information about NKU’s School of the Arts, please visit or follow on social media @NKUSOTA.

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