UAB music student wins first prize at Gulf Coast Steinway Society Piano Competition

Dina Kasman performed works by Bach, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff to win the Upper College Solo division.

Kasman.3Dina Kasman Dina Kasman of Vestavia, Alabama, won first prize at the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Piano Competition.

The regional competition was held last Saturday, Jan. 23, in Mobile, Alabama, with performances in person. Besides Alabama, students from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi also competed.

Kasman is a junior music major in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music and is in the UAB Honors College’s University Honors Program. She performed works by Bach, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff and won in the Upper College Solo division.   

Exactly a year ago, Kasman won the same competition in the College Piano Concerto division. Last fall, she was named an alternate winner at the State MTNA piano auditions. She is also a winner of the Birmingham Music Clubs Scholarship Auditions and second place winner in the Alabama Federation of Music Clubs. 

The Gulf Coast Steinway Society is a nonprofit organization formed to promote fine music through education and performance.

Kasman is a student of her father, artist-in-residence and Distinguished Professor of Piano Yakov Kasman, DMA. However, Kasman also teaches her own award-winning students — at the same competition in which she won the Upper College Solo division, her own student won second place in the High School Solo division. She has been a Music Teachers National Association member for several years and regularly presents her students at the local Alabama Music Teachers Association recitals and competitions.

Dina Kasman and alumna Mira Walker were winners of a UAB and Alabama Symphony Concerto/Aria competition and were scheduled to perform as soloists last April. This unfortunately did not happen because of the pandemic. 

Most of the music competitions now take place virtually since the pandemic. The students make recordings and submit them for the judges, who watch them on their computer screens and make their decisions.  

“This is not ideal and makes it more difficult both for the students and for the judges; but for a while, this was the only solution to stay afloat and to keep music running,” Yakov Kasman said. “Now more and more events like this have an option of playing in-person, or via Zoom. So, in this sense, I think our life is, very slowly, but nevertheless, taking a turn to how it was before the pandemic.”

During all live performances, students have to wear a mask. This makes performing even more difficult, but “having a choice to perform in a mask or not to perform at all, the choice is obvious,” he said.