UAB Piano Series presents former students of Yakov Kasman

Four former students – Maeve Brophy, Edward Forstman, Kseniia Polstiankina and Cahill Smith – will perform works by Carter, Liszt, Medtner and Rachmaninoff in honor of Professor Yakov Kasman’s 50th birthday and his 15 years of teaching at UAB.

maeve brophyMaeve BrophyA rare and special reunion is set for the second performance of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 2016-2017 Piano Series, happening Sunday, Feb. 12.

The UAB Piano Series, presented by the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Music, brings the world’s finest pianists to Birmingham. Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence Yakov Kasman, a Van Cliburn medalist, directs the series.

This UAB Piano Series concert will feature four former students of Kasman: Maeve Brophy, Edward Forstman, Kseniia Polstiankina and Cahill Smith. They will perform in honor of Kasman’s 50th birthday and his 15 years of teaching at UAB.

The four will perform a program to include works by Carter, Liszt, Medtner and Rachmaninoff.

The performance is set for 4 p.m. in UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, Reynolds-Kirschbaum Recital Hall. General admission tickets are $15, $5 for students through grade 12 and UAB employees, and free to UAB Students. Call 205-975-2787 for tickets. Call the Department of Music at 205-934-7376 or visit

Brophy is the pianist for Nashville’s alt-classical group chatterbird. She is working on an album and live concert video of Mozart and Franck sonatas she recorded in Memphis with her sister, violinist Linnaea Brophy, with an expected release date in May. Brophy teaches secondary piano at Belmont University in Nashville and is an accompanist at Vanderbilt University, where she has performed numerous recitals with students, faculty and guest artists. She is also the pianist for Kingston Springs United Methodist Church. She gave her first solo recital at age 9 and made her orchestral debut at 15. Brophy has given solo and collaborative performances in Wells, England; the Amalfi Coast; Kiev, Ukraine; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; Aspen, Colorado; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; and Birmingham. In high school, her family made the trip from Memphis to Huntsville weekly so she could study with Kasman. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from UAB, and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Texas Christian University, where she studied with Jose Feghali. She also studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Marc Silverman and at the New England Conservatory of Music with Russell Sherman.

edward forstmanEdward ForstmanForstman is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Professor Barry Snyder. He studied for two years at UAB with Kasman, having studied privately with Kasman for six years. In summer 2016, he attended the Miami Music Festival on scholarship, performing in master classes with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Anton Nel and studying under Alexander Moutouzkine, Ching-Yun Hu and Di Wu. Since 2013, Forstman has performed recitals at the Alabama Piano Gallery and the Eastman School of Music, as both a soloist and a collaborator. During his study at UAB, Forstman won many local and statewide competitions and represented the state of Alabama at the Music Teachers National Associations’ Southeastern Regional conference in 2013. At summer festivals in 2008 and 2010, he performed with the National Academic Symphony of the Ukraine at summer festivals in Kiev. Also in 2010, he went on full scholarship to Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, where he had master classes with Boaz Sharon.

Kseniia PolstiankinaKseniia PolstiankinaPolstiankina, a native of Ukraine, is an active pianist and collaborator on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Before graduating with honors from the Special Music School in Kiev, Ukraine, Polstiankina won top prizes at international piano and chamber music competitions, including the Prokofiev International Competition for Young Pianists (Donetsk, Ukraine), the International Competition for Young Pianists (Belgrade, Serbia), the Kyiv State Chamber Ensemble Competition (Kiev), the Sergei Taneyev International Chamber Ensemble Competition (Kaluga, Russia), and the International Chamber Ensemble Competition (St. Petersburg, Russia). While completing her undergraduate degree at UAB under Kasman’s tutelage, Polstiankina established her name in the United States with frequent wins at competitions. She twice became a national finalist in the MTNA Young Artist Competition, winning third prize in 2011. On the concert stage, Polstiankina has appeared with orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and the Chernigov Symphony Orchestra. Polstiankina also enjoys a vibrant collaborative career spanning opera, choral music, vocal recitals and chamber music. She completed her undergraduate degree at UAB, and graduated with her master’s degree in collaborative piano from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she is now working on her doctoral degree in piano performance under Professor Awadagin Pratt. Polstiankina is part of the artistic team at Queen City Opera in Cincinnati as the principal coach.

cahill smith 2Cahill SmithSmith is on the piano faculty at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he is also a festival artist for the Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition in the summer. He is an active lecturer, competition juror and master class presenter. Cahill is a Yamaha Artist.​ Smith completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music in 2014, where he was teaching assistant to Natalya Antonova. At Eastman, Smith was the inaugural recipient of the Douglas Lowry award for excellence in degree recital performance. He also won the Eastman Concerto Competition and was awarded the Prize for Excellence in Teaching as a graduate assistant. Smith completed his master’s degree at the University of Michigan with Arthur Greene, and his bachelor’s degree at UAB with Kasman. Born and raised in rural Alabama, Smith began playing at age 10 and made his orchestral debut at 16. Smith has given recitals in major venues in the United States and abroad, including three programs in three years at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (2013, 2014 and 2015); the PolyTheater in Chongqing, China; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall in Boston; the Royal Dublin Society’s Concert Hall; the Aspen Music Festival’s Harris Hall; and others. He was featured as a concerto soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, the Eastman Philharmonia, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, the Shoals Symphony Orchestra and others. His recordings have been broadcast on WQXR, New York’s classical music radio station. Smith’s programming of works by little-known Russian composer Nikolai Medtner has attracted the attention of audiences and critics; he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 with an all-Medtner program of solo piano music, songs and chamber music and gave a lecture-recital on the composer at Yale University. In a review of his 2015 Carnegie Hall recital, New York Concert Review wrote, “The entire second half was devoted to a special ‘cause’ of Mr. Smith: the piano music of Nikolai Medtner […]. Here, Mr. Smith was in his element, revealing every twist and turn, every poignant repeat of the cyclic themes, with beautiful shimmering colors I haven’t heard since Gilels played the Sonata reminiscenza in Carnegie Hall in 1980.” 

  • February 12