Welcome to the International PIANO ACADEMY “Gegen den Strom”.

The event will take place in beautiful Bad Ems, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the river Lahn, as part of the highly popular cultural festival "Gegen den Strom". The very name of this festival, "against the flow", as opposed to “going with the flow” carries an energy in and of itself that is hard to overestimate. Rejection of clichés and commercialism, substituted by emphasis on the highest ideals of art and music, culminate in a resurrection of the XIX century Schumann idea of Davidsbündler (League of David, referring to the Biblical King David) against the Philistines. The goal of this academy is to assist and support exceptionally talented young artists and to provide them with such skill as to offset the banality, cliché and empty virtuosity of superficially theatrical performances.

A small number of talented and aspiring young musicians from around the world will be selected by application, and given the opportunity to participate in a 2 week-long intensive course of master classes, concerts, competition, discussions and concentrated individual work. Selected participants will be granted partial or full scholarship based on their application.

During the course of the academy, participants will receive hands-on guidance and musical inspiration from the world-renowned professors Lev Natochenny, Igor Lazko, Sook Ryeon Park and Eugene Choi, which will help them develop into mature musicians and exceptional performing artists. Each participant will receive 5 individual lessons/master classes, will enjoy young artists concerts and listen to guest artists. Each participant is entitled to take part in the Gegen den Strom piano competition and winner's concerts.

Unlike most summer music “camps”/festivals, where students usually receive instruction from only one designated professor, students of the International Piano Academy “Gegen den Strom” will take lessons from ALL professors. This encourages students to experience a broader and more diverse approach to music in a short time span. All lessons are open to the public (conducted in a master class format) and all students are encouraged to attend other participants' lessons to augment and capitalize on the learning process.

The 3 winners of the “Gegen den Strom Piano Competition” will receive cash prizes and will be presented in a winner's concert at the end of the festival. The purpose of this competition is to provide young artists with an opportunity to hear their colleagues, with stage experience in live winner's concerts, as well as to attract media attention to the performances and concerts of the winners. In the process of learning more about music and the instrument, students will also learn more about themselves, their abilities, likes and dislikes as well as personality preferences.




Lev Natochenny


“a genius in his creativity” – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Lev Natochenny is an artist who defies simple classification. Described as a “real genius in his creativity” by European critics and a “rare master of his instrument” by New York critics, he combines innovation and intelligence, technical brilliance and attention to details of the musical text, and above all emerges with an astonishingly independent musical personality.

Influenced by the greatest artists as Sviatoslav Richter and David Oistrakh, Lev Natochenny received his formal education from the famed Moscow Conservatory in the class of eminent professors Lev Oborin and Boris Zemliansky. Having been recognized early for his unusually mature and inspired interpretations and mastery of the instrument Mr. Natochenny became the Assistant to Prof. Lev Oborin at an unheard of age of 19. He went on to receive his Diploma with Honors from the same Conservatory, where he continued to develop his taste for uncommonly independent style recognized by critics and audiences alike.

Subsequent honors, including Gold Medal “with particular distinction” in a scandal-marred 1981 F. Busoni International Piano Competition, First Prize in Young Artists International Piano Competition and Gina Bachauer Award, led to concert appearances in major halls throughout Europe and the United States with major American orchestras and most recently with Russian National Orchestra as both pianist and conductor. During these concert tours Lev Natochenny developed a particular affinity for chamber music with its special refinement and delicate intimacy. Performances with other world-class artists including cellist Mischa Maisky, clarinettist Stanley Drucker, violist Toby Hoffman, pianist Vladimir Feltsman, bassist Rustem Gabdullin, Penderecki, Ciurlionis quartet and collaborations with major orchestras such as New York Philharmonic, Baltimore and Indianapolis Symphonies followed.

In addition to concertizing, Mr. Natochenny maintains a rigorous teaching schedule, with his students ranging from exceptionally talented youngsters to accomplished young professionals, most of them winners of national and international competitions. Prof. Natochenny’s class is a rare, if not the only piano class where current students have contracts with 3 major recording labels: EMI Classics, SONY/BMG Classical and Deutsche Grammophon.

Deeply scholarly, with a keen and comprehensive mind, Professor Natochenny has gained recognition for his spontaneous and personal approach to music and for his absolute dedication to his students, which has led to appointments to piano faculties of Manhattan School of Music, The Mannes College of Music, professorial position at City University of New York and a position of Distinguished Professor of Piano at the Hochschule für Musik (Music Academy) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in addition to master classes in the U.S., Canada and in Europe, including such Eastern European countries as Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Hungary and adjudications in national and major international competitions such as “Busoni”/Bolzano, “Sydney”, “Cincinnati”, “Ennio Porrino”/Cagliari, “Yerevan” and others. In 1990 Lev Natochenny created a unique music forum for the most creative artists of all generations – Meranofest International Music Festival and Academy for Superior Piano Performance Studies – where the highest level of music making and preparation of young talent go hand in hand. After only two seasons Meranofest was already recognized as an important festival and listed in Milan’s “Guide to 100 most important festivals” with over 200 rave reviews of its concerts and master classes.

For the “Edizione Meranofest” Lev Natochenny has recorded an unusual combination of Schubert Piano Sonata and Brahms Piano Quintet, a compact disc, critical acclaim of which led to a second disc for “Marquis Classics” with baritone Kevin McMillan. This disc received a JUNO Nomination for the best classical disc of 1994. The next CD for “Marquis Classic” was released in 1996 with music of Schnittke and Schostakovich. In addition to these recordings Lev Natochenny has previously recorded for “Nuova Era” and “Newport Classic” labels. RAI, Italian TV made a portrait of Lev Natochenny in 2004 and HR, German TV made a portrait of the artist in 2005. He can also be heard on WQXR, WNYC and RAI, Italian Radio and Television Network. Currently Prof. Natochenny is on the faculty of the Kalaidos Muskihochschule in Switzerland and the Founder and Artistic Director of the “International Piano Institute for Superior Performance Studies” in Bad Homburg, Germany.




Igor Lazko

Professor IGOR LAZKO

The Russian pianist, Igor Lasko [Lazko] is descended from a family renowned for its musicians through several generations. His prodigious talent was apparent as a young boy, and when he was 6 years old he was admitted to the special school for young musicians in the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, where his professors were Pavel Serebryakov and Lekhovitskaya. He was profoundly affected by the example of Glenn Gould's playing during his tour in the Soviet Union in 1957, and from this and from Gould's recordings he drew a wealth of inspiration: the pianist describes this in a published article.

At a very young age Igor Lasko displayed exceptional gifts and in 1964, when only 14, he became the youngest laureate in the history of the J.S. Bach International Music Competition in Leipzig, receiving from them the Bronze Medal. Soon afterwards (in 1965) he recorded the Two- and Three- Part Inventions (BWV 772-786, BWV 787-801) for the Russian Melodiya record label, the disc which was to mark the start of his career as a concert performer.

His hard work and his exceptional talent opened for Igor Lasko the very finest teaching that Russia had to offer. He perfected himself at the higher Tchaikowsky Conservatory in Moscow in the class of Jakov Zak, successor of the master Heinrich Neuhaus, and took the First Prize in all his paths of study. Following graduation he was invited by the renowned Russian conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, to perform as piano soloist with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1974 to 1977 he pursued a career as soloist and chamber musician in the Soviet Union.

From 1978 to 1992 Igor Lasko was professor at the University faculty of Belgrade. In this period he recorded the six Partitas (BWV 825-830) and the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) by J.S. Bach, as well as works of Tchaikovsky and of other composers. The concert which he dedicated to the memory of the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was proclaimed 'the best interpretation of the 1982- 1983 season' in Belgrade. Intensively engaged in the musical life of the country, his Belgrade Festival recital of 1987 consisted entirely of Serbian composers, while his 1989 recital was a Russian programme of Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky (The Seasons Op. 37, which he also recorded in Belgrade) and Sergei Rachmaninov. His 1987 recital with violinist Čergomir Mišković also combined J.S. Bach, Mozart and Tchaikowsky. After winning the 1981 Contemporary Music Congress at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, his career also began to develop further in France.

Igor Lazko has given innumerable tours in France, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Canada and the USA, performing with the worlds great orchestras and as a guest of numerous festivals such as Summer Days in Dubrovnik, The Evenings of Music in Sombor, The Days of Mokranjac in Negotin, Memorial Days in Kragujevac, and the days of Music in Herceg Novi (where he also served as artistic director) and in Nanterre, France at the International Music Festival, the celebration of the European Year of Music ('Music Like Bach', 1985) where he performed almost the entire J.S.Bach piano repertoire.

Igor Lasko has worked with such orchestral directors as Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, Vladislav Chernushenko and Valery Gergiev, with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, National Chamber Orchestra of Canada, and with many European ensembles. He is also pianist of the Trio Mendelssohn, with violinist Alexandre Stajic and cellist Dorel Fodoreanu.

Based in Paris since 1992, Igor Lasko is Professor of Piano at the famous Schola Cantorum, Professor of Piano at the Ecole Nationale de Musique in Fresnes, and in particular at the Russian Conservatory Alexandre Scriabin in Paris. He also gives very numerous demonstrations and master- classes across the whole of Europe (Italy, Switzerland, Germany, etc.) and in the USA. He is President Director of the Nikolai Rubinstein International Piano Concours (which he founded in 1996) and is the Founder and President of the International Concours of the Conservatoire Russe Alexandre Scriabine (2001), in Paris. He is closely involved with the Jūrmala (Latvia) International Academic Music Competition for pianists, which reached its 11th Season in 2010. In addition he maintains a full schedule as an international concertist throughout Europe, Russia and North America.

more information to Igor Lasko in Wikipedia




Sook Ryeon Park is one of the most active Korean pianists both as a soloist and chamber musician. Her international career has drawn positive attention since 1993 when she became an Assistant Professor at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in the United States. She has performed numerous concerts in the United States, Europe and Asian countries including Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia. She came back to her native country Korea in 1999 and has remained very active as a performer and teacher. Serving as a tenured faculty of the Sunchon National University, she has tutored many young aspirants across the nation. Among her prominent students, Seong Jin Cho has emerged as a Wunderkind, first prize winning the Chopin International Piano Competition. (2015).

Dr. Park’s academic backgrounds were built in the most prominent institutions in the United States and Korea. She holds both Doctoral and Masters’ degrees from the Eastman School of Music, that awarded her the diplomas with highest distinction and the Performer’s Certificate. Prior to Eastman education, Park earned a B.A. degree from Seoul National University. In between, she also participated in the Aspen Summer Music Festival, Salzburg Summer Festival, and the Saint Louis Conservatory of Music where she was granted the Artist Certificate.

Park has performed numerous concerts with many prominent orchestras including Wraclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Samara Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Park has performed some four scores of solo piano recitals on invitation. Addedly, between 1993 and 2000, Park led the “Arete Trio” touring many cities of America and Asian Countries.

In Korea, Park enjoys the firm reputation of the pioneer and master of “lecture recital.“ Since 1994, she has led the movement of the audience-friendly classical music. Since 2005, Park has dramatically broadened the realm of her activities, taking various positions such as judge of international competition and artistic director of music festivals. Notedly, since 2010, Park has been the artistic director of DMZ International Music Festival.

more informations to Sook Ryeon Park


Eugene Choi

“In today's high-tech oriented pop culture age private summer music academies strive to add the missing elements: passionate involvement, personal dedication, artistic creativity and professionalism to classical music studies. The "Gegen den Strom" Piano Academy stands proud of its achievements and will continue to bring the top class piano instruction, creative support, concert stage experience and deepened understanding of music to the most talented and aspiring young musicians” 
Eugene Choi, Director of Gegen den Strom Piano Academy


Hailed by international press as having “formidable technique and sensitive touch”, “charismaticastage presence” and “musical plasticity” took the young and powerful EUGENE CHOI to many countries and continents, from her native Korea through USA, Western Europe to such Eastern European countries as Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia.

Ms. Choi’s concert tours started early as a result of victories in numerous piano competitions at Harvard, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory, Corpus Christi, Texas and Summit Festival. These tours brought successful collaborations with conductors of world renown, among these Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Keith Lockhart, Benjamin Zander, as well as Nanse Gum and Eun-Sung Park in Korea. The list of orchestras Ms. Choi collaborated with is no less impressive and includes: Boston Pops, Seoul Philharmonic, Busan Philharmonic, Incheon Philharmonic, Eurasian Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, Youth Philharmonic, Süddeutsche Kammerorchester and others.

Ms. Choi’s European appearances at Alte Oper Frankfurt, Rheingau Music Festival, Augsburger Mozartiade, Weilburger Schlosskonzerte, Merano Festival, Varazdin Festival, Lyubliana Festival, Belgrade solo recitals, Kotor Festival, Montenegro and Summit Festival in New York brought not only recognition and standing ovations but reengagements to these and other concert venues with repeated appearances in Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Belgrade.

Universal appeal, personal charisma multiplied by outstanding mastery of the instrument and musical finesse brought Eugene Choi an offer from Radio Television of Serbia for a CD production and subsequently a Sony Classical CD release of “Franz Liszt: Reflections” in 2011. An accomplished master of complex musical architecture, Eugene Choi builds her career on outstanding schooling first in Korea by Prof. Soo-Jung Shin, then in Boston, USA by Wha-Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman and finally in Frankfurt Germany, where she resides currently and where she completed her education with “Excellence” in the world-renowned “Meisterklasse Lev Natochenny”.

Eugene’s artistry is a sophisticated mix of deep musical perception and pianistic brilliance, powerful touch and temperamental plasticity as well as masterful self-assurance and dominating stage presence. The artistry, which world’s major press institutes such as “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, “The Piano”, “International Piano”, “Frankfurter Neue Presse”, “Fanfare Magazine” rave about; the artistry, which overwhelms the public and which creates an unforgettable atmosphere in concert halls around the world wherever Ms. Choi appears. In 2011 and 2012, She was nominated by Journal of Frankfurt as the 7th most important personality in '50 most important people in Frankfurt'.

In addition to her career as a concert pianist, Eugene has been an extremely successful teacher. Her enthusiastic, emphatic, passionate, caring personality and pedagogic approach have helped many students at all levels, from beginners to professionals alike. She has been invited to teach in International Piano Institute for Superior Performance Studies (Bad Homburg, Germany) where she serves also as a Director of Academics, as well as Kalaidos Musikhochshule ( Aarau, Switzerland) and Loop Festival (Split, Croatia) among others.




PIANO COMPETITION  ‘Gegen den Strom’ 

Program requirements:

60-80 minutes Solo program, including at least 2 different musical styles.



1st Prize: FULL Solo Recital at the 'First prize winner's concert' on 05.08.2018 at Marmorsaal with Cash prize 1000,-

2nd and 3rd Prizes: HALF Recital ( a full recital shared by 2nd and 3rd prize winner) at the 'Winner's concert' on 04.08.2018 in Nassau with Cash prize: 2nd prize winner 700,- €, 3rd prize winner 500,- €


Competition Rounds: 2 Rounds

1st round: 28.07.2018 - 20 minutes (Participant's choice of works from the presented program)

2nd round (final round) : 31.07.2018 - 40 minutes (selected works by jury member from the presented program)




2018 GDS Piano Academy application form/ Anmeldungsformular

2018 GDS COMPETITION Registration form

Rules and Regulations for the piano competition GDS

2018 GDS Piano academy poster (1,5 MB)

2018 GDS 피아노 아카데미 인포메이션

2018-GDS-피아노-아카데미-포스터 (1MB)


In Kürze...

03.05.2019 |20:00 h
05.05.2019 |18:00 h
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12.05.2019 |18:00 h
17.05.2019 |20:00 h
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