Vispa Villa Sandra Piano Academy


5th Edition 2019

This President Massimo Marenzi announce e the 5th edition of the Piano Academy



Maestro George Vatchnadze – director of the school – will select the Faculty and present the event by the middle of March



Soon we give the details and be ready for inscription at the end of March


Mikhail Voskresensky 

“Deep authority and a stunning and reliable technique”

Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times


“George Vatchnadze is one of the freshest and most exiting young pianists to come along in a long, long time”

Patrick Meanor, Listener



George Vatchnadze has appeared with orchestras and in recital throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Israel, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, as well as Central and South America. He has performed at the Hollywood Bowl Festival, Ravinia Festival, Stresa Festival, and Rotterdam Philharmonic’s “Philips Gergiev” Festival. He has also been a frequent guest of St. Petersburg’s “White Nights” and “Mikkeli” (Finland) festivals. In 1997 Mr. Vatchnadze made a sensational recital debut at the prestigious Edinburgh International Music Festival and received the “Herald Angel Award” presented by the “Scottish Herald” newspaper. He has appeared on live broadcasts of the Dutch National Radio, BBC and NPR’s “Performance Today”. In 1999 Mr. Vatchnadze made his New York recital debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.  Critic and writer Faubion Bowers wrote in American Record Guide: “Vatchnadze is a consummate artist, now at the height of his musical and intellectual powers. He can do absolutely anything he wants at the piano. He commands delicate pianissimi, massive diapasons and everything in between”.

Mr. Vatchnadze’s engagements have included performances with the marrinsky Orchestra under the direction of Gianandrea Noseda, at the St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater and London’s Covent Garden, as well as appearances at the Salzburg Festival, Maggio Musicale Festival, Stresa Festival, Gilmore Festival, Ravenna Festival, London’s Wigmore Hall and New York’s Miller Theater.


His most recent engagements include appearances at the Marrinsky Piano festival in St. Petersburg, Stravisnky and Shostakovich Festivalsin Washington DC, Woodstock Festival (NY), Stanford Stravinsky Festival, Pacific Symphony Rachmaninoff Festival, SYArts Festival in Taiwan, performances in Japan, Georgia, and others.



Mr. Vatchnadze recorded two CDs with the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Jansug Kakhidze featuring Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 and Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand for the Sony and Excelsior Labels. Both recordings were reissued several times and received the highest critical acclaim. He was also part of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony CD recording alongside Alexander Toradze and Paavo Jarvi. Mr. Vatchadze’s new CD is being released this year with the piano music of Gia Kanceli and music for cello and piano of Sulkhan Tsinstadze.




Mr. Vatchnadze studied at Indiana University South Bend, Mannes College of Music, Tbilisi State Conservatory and Tbilisi Central Music School for Gifted Children. Among his teachers were Alexander Toradze, Arkady Aronov, Wanda Shiukashvili and Larissa Bakhtadze. He is a winner of numerous International Piano Competitions including 1994 Gina Bachauer Competition, 1998 Palm Beach invitational Competition, 1996 Alabama competition, and 1997 World Piano Competition.



Currently Mr. Vatchnadze is the Associate Professor at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. Throughout his teaching carrier, his students have won top prizes at the numerous international competitions and have performed extensively throughout the world.

George Vatchnadze




Katsunori Ishii



It was 1990 when a young pianist at age of 20 won 3rd place in the prestigious 59th Japan Music Competition.  Since then, Katsunori Ishii has appeared as a soloist with all of the major orchestras in Japan. Having started piano at the age of seven, he quickly became noticed through various competitions around the nation. 

He continued his studies on piano under Hiroshi Tamura, the top piano professor at Tokyo College of Music.  In the summer of 1992, young Ishii was off to the Tanglewood Music Center where he was invited to join the fellowship program at Tanglewood Music Institute.  It was there that he studied under Leon Fleisher, Gilbert Kalish, Peter Serkin and Garrik Ohlsson, some of the greatest piano talent of the time.  In the following year he was a 4th prize winner at the 10th Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition in Cleveland.

Back in Tokyo, Katsunori Ishii appeared as a soloist in a recital series sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation Japan Committee and the Japanese Cultural Agency.  He received the J. Fiedelman Piano Prize in 1996 while also graduating with a master’s degree from Mannes College of Music in New York.  He has given numerous concerts at various festivals including the Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Michigan and the Csehy Summer Festival in Philadelphia.  While in Germany in 1996, he studied with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling at the Stiftung Schleswig Holstein Music Festival in Lübeck under a full scholarship.  In the following year he won first prize at both the Japanese-American International Piano Competition in New York and the Hamamatsu International Piano academy Competition in Japan.

Katsunori Ishii has performed with numerous orchestras including the Japan Philharmonie Orchestra, Tokyo City Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Costa Rica National Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra New York and under conductors such as Golo Berg, Christian Mandel, Jorge Mester, Junichi Hirokami, Kimbo Ishii-Eto.

Along with his numerous achievements on solo piano, Katsunori Ishii also perform chamber music concerts, having appeared with such chamber icons as Werner Trip and Dennis Shappovalov.  He is currently a piano professor at Tokyo College of Music in Japan and has given master classes and concerts at many other academies and international music festivals such as the Viana do Castelo International Music Festival in Portugal 2009, Weikersheim Music Festival 2012 and Engers Music Festival in Germany 2014.He was also a member of Experts & Screening Committee the 7th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition 2009, 2015.    


Consistently acclaimed for his exquisite tonal beauty and superb artistry, Boris Slutsky emerged on the international music scene when he captured the First Prize along with every major prize, including the Audience Prize and Wihelm Backhaus Award, at the 1981 William Kapell Internaitonal (University of Maryland) Piano Competition.  His other accomplishments include first prizes at the Kosciuszko Chopin Competition and San Antonio International Keyboard Competition, and major prizes at the International Bach Competition in Memory of Glenn Gould, Gina Bachauer, Busoni, Rina Sala Gallo, and Ettore Pozzoli International Piano Competitions.


Since his orchestral debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony in 1980, Mr. Slutsky has appeared on nearly every continent as soloist and recitalist, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Dimitri Kitaenko and Valery Gergiev.  He has performed with the London Philharmonic, Stuttgart State Orchestra, and Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Neuss am Rhein in Germany, Bem Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland, Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, the RAI Orchestra in Milan, KBS Symphony Orchestra in Korea, and major orchestras in Spain, Russia, Columbia and Brazil.  In South Africa, he has been soloist with the orchestras of Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.  His North American engagements have included concerts with the Baltimore, Florida, Utah and Toronto Symphonies.  Mr. Slutsky has been heard on recital series’ throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Latin America, and the Far East, making appearances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Kaufmann Concert Hall, Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, National Concert Hall in Taipei, Performing Arts Center in Seoul, and the Teatro Colon in Bogota, among many others. 


An avid chamber musician, Mr. Slutsky’s more than two decades of chamber music collaborations include the critically acclaimed recording of Schumann’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Ilya Kaler on the Naxos label as well as performances with many renowned artists.


Mr. Slutsky presented master classes throughout North America, Europe and Asia and served as a jury member of many international piano competitions.


Born in Moscow into a family of musicians, Mr. Slutsky received his early training at Moscow’s Gnessin School for Gifted Children as a student of Anna Kantor, and completed his formal studies at the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, studying with Nadia Reisenberg, Nina Svetlanova, John Browning and Joseph Seiger.  In addition, he has worked for many years with his mentor Alexander Eydleman.  


Mr. Slutsky has joined the faculty of The Peabody Conservatory of Music in 1993, where he served as the Piano Department Chair 2000-2003 and 2009-2017.



Pianist Eteri Andjaparidze has gained international acclaim as one of the most multifaceted artists and insightful pedagogues. She has performed on concert stages around the globe in solo and collaborative recitals and as guest soloist with major orchestras including London Symphony, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Quebec Symphony, Beijing and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestras, Russian State Symphony, Moscow State Philharmonic, Moscow Radio Symphony, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Georgian State and Tbilisi Symphony Orchestras, under the baton of Franz-Paul Decker, James DePreist, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Valery Gergiev, Djansug Kakhidze, Michel Plasson, Vladimir Spivakov, Yuri Temirkanov, and Pascal Verrot among others. 


Highlights of her international festival engagements as an artist and faculty have included Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, International Keyboard Festival and Institute, Mannes Sounds Festival, NYU Summer Piano Intensive, Round Top Festival-Institute, PianoSummer at New Paltz, Los Angeles International Piano Symposium, Piano Festival Northwest, Apollo Music Festival, Puerto Rico International Piano Festival, Bermuda Piano Festival, Todi International Music Masters Festival, Festival International de Colmar, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Duszniki-Zdroj International Chopin Festival, White Nights, Russian Winter, Neuhaus Piano Festival, and Autumn Tbilisi Music Festival to name a few. Her discography on Naxos, Marco Polo, and Melodiya labels includes solo albums nominated for Grammy and Deutsche Schallplatten awards.



Andjaparidze is teaching on the piano faculties at NYU Steinhardt and Mannes School of Music in New York City. She has conducted master classes worldwide and served as Head of the Keyboard Programs and Professor of Piano at DePaul University in Chicago, the State University of New York, the Moscow and Tbilisi State Conservatoires and as Visiting Professor at Xi’an and Foshan Conservatories in China.


A Steinway Artist, Andjaparidze is founder and artistic director of an artistic/educational program AmerKlavier, the first piano performance studio named to the International Steinway Artists roster. AmerKlavier has presented myriads of thematic festivals and projects including The United Sounds of America; American Piano Sonata; American Piano Variations; American Piano Etude; Pour le piano; Grand Piano à la Russe: A Taste of Georgia; Piano Theatre; J. S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I; W. A. Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas; L. van Beethoven: 32 Sonatas for Piano; F. Chopin: Complete Nocturnes; S. Prokofiev: Complete Piano Sonatas; S. Rachmaninoff: Complete Opera for Two Pianos and One-Piano Four/Six Hands; J. S. Bach: Complete Concerti for Two Keyboards and Strings, J. Brahms: Complete Piano Quartets, and other musical offerings. 

Born to a musical family in Tbilisi, Georgia – her father, Zurab Andjaparidze, the leading tenor with the Bolshoi Opera and mother, pianist Yvetta Bachtadze, a student of Alexander Iokheles from Konstantin Igumnov’s piano lineage – Andjaparidze studied at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with Vera Gornostaeva, a student of Heinrich Neuhaus. The youngest participant, she received Fourth Prize at the Fifth Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and was the first Soviet pianist to win Grand Prix at the Montreal International Piano Competition. Her awards include the International Friendship Order, Georgian Order of Honor, and People's Artist of Georgia title.




Kyomi Sugimura has appeared at major festivals such as Edinburgh, Stars of the White Nights and Mikkeli. She has performed in Japan, the United States, England, Scotland, Italy, Finland, Russia, Taiwan and many other countries. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Osaka Philharmonic, Kansai Philharmonic, Nara Philharmonic and Osaka Enphonica and Symphony Orchestra, and has been featured on live broadcasts on NHK radio, Asahi TV and Nara radio/TV in Japan. 

By Valery Gergiev’s invitation, Ms. Sugimura was the first foreign pianist who played Stravinsky’s unknown early piano sonata in St. Petersburg, Russia and this performance received the highest critical acclaim from the Russian Press. 

Kyomi Sugimura joined the DePaul University School of Music's applied piano faculty in September 2011. She is also a music director and organizer of Villa Sandra International Piano Academy in Lesa, Italy. 

Ms. Sugimura holds piano performance degrees from Osaka School of Music and Indiana University South Bend School of Music where she joined world renowned Alexander Toradze’s piano studio. She also earned a piano accompanying degree at Indiana University South Bend. Her most influential teachers have been Shizuko Okita, Toyoko Kreutzer, Robert Hamilton and Alexander Toradze. 



Shinya Okahara, piano

Highly acclaimed as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and collaborator in German Lieder, pianist, Shinya Okahara has performed for enthusiastic audiences worldwide. A frequently collaborator with the baritones Dietrich Henschel and Stephan Genz, and the Martinů Quartet, his activities have led him to perform the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas as well as the complete songs of Schubert and Wolf, with invitations to perform both as soloist and collaborator at the Český Krumlov, Richard Strauss, and Gran Canaria music festivals.

His successful collaborations with the baritone Hermann Prey in 1994 and bass-baritone Theo Adam in 1995 were aired on the Japanese national network NHK.  He further established his reputation as a leading lieder pianist in 1996, arranging the baritone Dietrich Henschel’s first Japanese concerts, and successfully producing subsequent tours of Japan in 1997 and 1999.

In 2006, Shinya made his debut as conductor in the Czech Republic, and toured Salzburg, Vienna, and Osaka (Japan) with the Steude Quartet (formed from members of the Vienna Philharmonic). Between Japan and Germany, in collaboration with Henschel and Helmut Deutsch, he directs a biennial summer music festival focusing on the interpretation of German art songs which is now approaching its 8th iteration.

Shinya Okahara studied at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and furthered his studies at the Universität der Künste Berlin, with masterclasses at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München. His prizes include the Kyoto Music Prize (1993), Osaka Culture Festival Prize (1996) the Music Critics Club Prize (2001) and the 23rd Heisei Art Festival Achievement Award of the Ministry of Culture (2012). He has released over 20 CDs, is chairman of the Japan German Lied Society, and is Professor of Piano at the Osaka Music University Graduate School.