UAB music students secured top positions in the state’s young artists piano competition

UAB students continue the legacy of competing in the Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Piano competition.
Written by: Tehreem Khan
Media contact: Savannah Koplon

two music.1Dina Kasman and Weixiang PengTwo University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences students, Dina Kasman and Weixiang Peng, took the top two places in Alabama’s Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Piano Competition.

“Both of the winners have performed a very challenging repertoire and have worked extremely hard to achieve this level of the performance, and I am very glad the esteemed judges from the nation’s leading institutions have decided our students are the best at this year’s competition,” said Yakov Kasman, DMA, Distinguished Professor of Piano in the UAB Department of Music

Dina Kasman, a senior from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, majoring in music and minoring in French and business administration, won the competition with the repertoire she performed, including five etudes from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Etudes-Tableaux Op. 39.

“I had learned all nine etudes of the opus over the first months of the pandemic, when the world was upside down,” Kasman said. “Those pieces allowed me to pour my emotions into them, and performing them is such a joy for me. I am honored to have that recognized.”

“Dr. Kasman, my professor and father, poured a hundred percent of himself into each lesson and inspired me daily to be a better musician,” Kasman said. “I’m grateful for his coaching and guidance throughout this. Participating in competitions allows me to push myself as a musician. I am grateful for the opportunity.” 

Kasman will advance to the Southern Division level and plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in piano performance after graduation. 

“Those pieces allowed me to pour my emotions into them, and performing them is such a joy for me.”

Weixiang Peng, a senior from Dalian, China, majoring in music performance, is the alternate winner of the state competition.

“I am very grateful for this award. It represents the hard work I have done for so many years,” he said. “Dr. Kasman gave me lots of musical ideas, which helped me gain a better understanding of the music pieces I learned. He has done so much for me, and I feel very lucky to be one of his students.”

Peng plans to attend graduate school after graduation and says the MTNA competition has inspired him to work harder and pay attention to details.

The MTNA Young Artist State Piano Competition is the state’s premier annual piano competition for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students that selects winners to advance to the regional level. Top performers from all 50 states compete for national prizes.