Piano Monster Takes Summer Vacation at PSU

June 25th, 2008 by Adam

It’s a monstrous feat, but the performers are up to the challenge.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — The infamous piano monster makes a return visit to Plymouth State University June 22–29 when the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance presents Junior and Senior Monster Festivals and a seminar for teachers.

The Junior Piano Monster Festival will be held June 22–25 for students entering grades 6–9 in the fall, and the Senior Festival is June 26–29 for students entering grades 9–12. (Students entering grade 9 may choose either camp.) The teachers’ seminar is June 24–25.

Monster concert performers work under the direction of a conductor in an ensemble format with multiple performers at a single piano, a new experience for many pianists who have previously experienced only solo or duet performance. Many return for multiple years.

The Monster format was brought to PSU by Professor Carleen Graff more than 20 years ago.In recent years, she has added works for digital piano orchestra.

Monster Festival students live on campus while they study ensemble techniques, musicianship and specialty topics such as chorus, handbell choir, percussion ensemble, digital keyboard ensemble, improvisation, history of piano music, theory and technique, piano pedagogy, and conducting, and participate in master classes.

“This is a good way to share and showcase the resources of our regional University with musicians from throughout New England,” said Graff.

This year’s conductor is Dr. Thomas Ediger, director of choral activities and professor of music at Peru State College (PSC) in Peru, Neb., where he also teaches applied piano and other music courses. He has twice received the PSC Teaching Excellence Award.

Ediger maintains a small private piano and composition studio, and his students have won competitions at the state, division and national levels. He is also director-elect of the West Central Division of the Music Teachers National Association. He is creator and director of the Peru State College Piano Extravaganza, begun in 1990.

The digital keyboard orchestra conductor is PSU alumna Elisa Curren, who teaches instrumental, vocal, and general music in the public schools in Gardner, Ill.
Curren received her MM degree in trumpet performance from Illinois State University.

She has previously conducted the digital keyboard ensembles, the percussion ensembles, the handbell choirs and the vocal ensemble at both the Junior and Senior Monster Festivals.

Public concerts will be held in the Hanaway Theatre Wednesday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m.(Junior Festival) and Sunday, June 29 at 4 p.m. (Senior Festival). Tickets are $7 general admission at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS.

Continuing education units or graduate credits are available for teachers who participate in the two-day teacher seminar on a selection of topics. Teachers are encouraged to submit ideas for discussion and are also invited to present a session.

Staff for the institute are chosen for their ability to work with young musicians. They are committed and highly qualified musicians drawn primarily from the PSU faculty, staff, alumni and current students.

For information about the festivals, call Dr. Carleen Graff, (603) 535-2313 or send e-mail to carleeng@plymouth.edu. Monster Festival information is also online at

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