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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Friday, September 3, 2010

IU Jacobs School of Music student co-winner of international competition

Sept. 3, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Brian Ciach, a doctoral candidate in the Composition Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, is a co-winner of the American Liszt Society (ALS) Bicentennial Composition Competition. He will share the $4,000 prize donated by Steinway & Sons with Gilad Cohen, a doctoral student in composition at Princeton University.

Thirty-two compositions were accepted from composers from Australia, Thailand, Israel, England, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and the United States.

Ciach's winning piece, Second Piano Sonata, will receive its world premiere at the 2011 ALS Bicentennial Festival at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia, on Feb. 19, 2011. It will be performed by Paul Barnes, professor of piano at the University of Nebraska and a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music.

"I am honored and thrilled that my Second Piano Sonata was selected for the first prize award and a performance by pianist Paul Barnes in the American Liszt Society's 2011 national festival," said Ciach.

"The Second Sonata is extremely virtuosic in true Lisztian style. The rapid toccata movement involves knocking of the end blocks and slapping of the piano arms at climactic points. The intense, quick repeated notes run off of the keyboard, turning into knocking on the wooden frame. It's something I've always wanted to do with a piano work -- essentially 'run out of notes.'"

When he first performed the piece, Ciach said, this aggressive style caused the piano to shake so much that a screw actually fell out of the raised piano lid. The screw fell onto the iron frame, making a loud "ping" along with wood dust flying into his face. "I'm no Franz Liszt, but these types of theatrics -- though unintentional in my case -- are not averse to the spirit of the old master."

Ciach is in his final year in the Doctor of Music in Composition program at Jacobs. He has studied with Claude Baker, Don Freund, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, P.Q. Phan and Sven-David Sandström. He has two master's degrees in composition and piano performance and an undergraduate degree in piano performance from Temple University, where he studied piano with Charles Abramovic and Lambert Orkis. His composition teachers at Temple were Richard Brodhead, Matthew Greenbaum and Maurice Wright. Ciach has also studied privately with Richard Wernick.

The 2011 ALS Festival will be North America's largest celebration of the bicentennial of Liszt's birth. ALS President Thomas Mastroianni is a Jacobs School alumnus.

The evening before Ciach's piece is performed, William Bolcom's Laura Sonnets also will receive its world premiere at the festival.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music, visit