ASU to host Bösendorfer and Yamaha USasu International Piano Competition


December 19, 2016

Forty-three exceptional pianists from around the world will converge on Tempe early next month when the ASU School of Music hosts the eighth Bösendorfer and Yamaha USasu International Piano Competition.

Scheduled to be held Jan. 2–8 at the School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in collaboration with the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Young Artist Committee and the Arizona Piano Gallery, the competition is hailed as one of the best in the world and welcomes the public to experience great performances by these talented young artists. Bosendorfer Yamaha ASU International Piano Competition The eighth Bösendorfer and Yamaha USasu International Piano Competition will be held at the School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Jan. 2–8. Photo by Baruch Meir. Download Full Image

A total of 183 pianists from 23 countries applied to the 2017 competition, with 43 selected to perform in the semifinal and final rounds for prizes including more than $50,000 in cash rewards, engagements with the Phoenix Symphony and a recital in Merkin Hall, Kaufman Music Center, New York.

“These competitors represent the top young pianists from some of the world’s greatest music schools and teachers, including The Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Moscow Conservatory, Seoul National University, Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, Northwestern University, as well as Arizona State University,” said Baruch Meir, founder, president and artistic director of the competition, and Bösendorfer Concert Artist. “We invite our community to experience these outstanding pianists at a top-tier competition.”

The competition will include a Q&A session in ASU’s Katzin Hall from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 7,  where the audience can interact with members of the jury, which includes Stanislav Ioudenitch, Van Cliburn gold medalist; Oxana Yablonskaya, who served on the faculty at The Juilliard School for 30 years; Asaf Zohar, Israeli pianist and pedagogue; Zhe Tang, vice dean and piano professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; Robert Hamilton, internationally respected pianist, recording artist and ASU professor; and Baruch Meir from the ASU School of Music.

All solo performances of the Bösendorfer Competition (ages 19–32) are held at the ASU School of Music in Tempe, Jan. 2–7, 2017. The final round is held at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix at 17 p.m., Jan. 8, with showcased finalists playing a concerto with The Phoenix Symphony under the baton of Matthew Kasper. The announcement of winners and the presentation of medals will immediately follow onstage after the performance. Tickets can be purchased through the Phoenix Symphony Box Office.

The semifinal and final rounds for the Yamaha Senior and Junior competition will take place on Jan. 4–7 in Katzin Hall at the ASU School of Music. These rounds are open to the public. The winners’ recital and awards ceremony will take place on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. in Katzin Hall. Tickets for all Yamaha and Bösendorfer live solo performances can be purchased through the Herberger Institute Box Office.

For more information about the competition, the schedule of events and how you might get involved, visit pianocompetition.asu.edu or contact the competition office by email at pianocompetition@asu.edu or by phone at 480-965-8740. For tickets to all the competition solo rounds, including the Yamaha competition winners’ recital on Jan. 7, visit music.asu.edu/events.

ASU alumnus gives back through physics scholarship, professorship


December 20, 2016

Wally Stoelzel can’t recall Newton’s laws of motion, but he certainly does not regret studying physics at Arizona State University.

“My grandkids often ask me if I am sorry that I studied physics since I only got to teach it a year or so,” said Stoelzel. “I tell them … it was a pleasure to have studied the basis for all the other sciences.” ASU alumnus attends grandson's graduation ASU alumnus Wally Stoelzel (left) attends his grandson Evan’s graduation ceremony at the Colorado School of Mines. Also pictured are Evan’s parents and grandmother. Download Full Image

In 1966, Stoelzel graduated from Arizona State University with a Master of Natural Sciences degree in physics with a goal to pursue a career as a teacher. He accepted a position as the Math and Science Department Chair of the Industrial Training Center for Aramco in Saudi Arabia, which took him across the globe. He taught math and physics to adult students who wanted to pursue science and engineering degrees. In addition, he taught the center’s math and science teachers to help them update their technical backgrounds. 

When his position was eliminated, Stoelzel transferred to the electronic data processing technical group as a system analyst. He learned a variety of programming skills and languages. Some of his engineering projects included providing cost analysis for the Saudi Arabian Government and calculating oil volume in floating roof storage tanks for offloading to tankers. He also worked on a multitude of diverse technical projects during his eight-year Aramco tenure. 

Upon returning to the U.S., Stoelzel became the manager of data processing at the Newspaper Printing Corporation. Then, he became part-owner of a digital equipment software firm. He also started a computer service bureau for accounting services and advertising signage. 

After a couple years, Stoelzel’s businesses dissolved and he returned to his passion of teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso. He taught management information systems, computer science, programming and engineering applications courses. His career changed courses again when he became a portfolio manager for Paine Webber and then Smith Barney-Shearson Lehman-E.F. Hutton.

“Looking back it’s easy to see how my ASU physics background directly contributed to the varied employment opportunities which came my way even during the bad economic downturns,” he said. 

Stoelzel is now retired, but his passion for learning and impacting the world has not come to a halt. He created the Wally Stoelzel Physics Scholarship and the Alan Wager Professorship in Physics Endowment in fond memory of professor Wager, former chair of the Department of Physics, and Glenna Curtis, former department secretary.

Wager recruited Stoelzel for a scholarship when he was a public-school teacher and, later, his graduate assistant, which made it possible for Stoelzel to study physics. Now, he hopes to give back and help relieve students of some of their financial burdens.

“Hopefully the students receiving this scholarship will be able to pursue their studies in physics with less worry,” Stoelzel said. “When times are not good, they’ll realize their physics background will allow them to pursue many vocations which were not evident when they left ASU.”

Andrew Svesko, a graduate student pursuing a doctoral degree in physics, was awarded this scholarship two years in a row. The scholarship has been a significant asset for helping Svesko accomplish his goals.

“My ultimate career goal is to become a professional educator,” Svesko said.. “The Wally Stoelzel Scholarship will help me achieve these goals by offering me the ability to focus more on research and can help pay for travel expenses for conferences and more.”

Thanks to the financial assistance he received during his doctoral program, Svesko now looks forward to one day being able to continue Stoelzel’s legacy of giving back.

“I hope I can give back, and the reason is simple: In order to continue the wheel of progress, future generations of scientists and engineers should be allowed the same opportunities that I have been given,” Svesko said. “Likewise, it’s a duty to give back in any way possible.”

Alexis Berdine

Student writer and reporter, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences