The International Keyboard Odyssiad & Festival (IKOF) is a competition and festival highlighting the joy of music making in the presence of a live audience. Headquartered in the U.S.A. and licensed to host countries around the world, the IKOF seeks to enhance the careers of young musicians. We were thrilled to speak with Dr. Janet Landreth, founder and director of the International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A. in this week's community connections.
What do you love about Fort Collins?
I love the vibrant community of Fort Collins, the sense of engagement of its citizens, its small-town feel with its big-town metropolitan offerings, its emphasis on education and diversity with a major university attracting talented students and faculty from all around the world, the cultural stimulation of its world-class musical events, its emphasis on the visual arts, theatre, dance, its physical beauty in the foothills of the great Rocky Mountains, its proximity to wonderful outdoor activities and camping sites (Poudre Canyon, Horsetooth Reservoir, Estes Park), its bike trails, beer dispensaries, and numerous great restaurants. What is not to like about Fort Collins?
What are some of your favorite things to do in Fort Collins?
I love to explore the country roads and outlying vistas of Fort Collins, to see the city from without, so to speak, as well as within. The distant views of the snow-capped mountains as you are driving into the city are simply awe-inspiring and never fail to leave me breathless. Catching them from a different angle on a country road as you pass a ranch, or a pig farm, or a small country church enlightens your sense of pleasure that you are in such a magical place. I am thankful that I am blessed to live in such a beautiful city and state. Sometimes I like to take a road just to see where it goes and be surprised. Often this has the effect of a miracle.
What makes IKOF unique?
I coined and trademarked the term “Odyssiad®” to describe my vision for a world-famous international piano competition and festival headquartered in Fort Collins that would attract the most gifted and talented young pianists and seasoned artists from around the U.S. and abroad to Fort Collins in the summer months. The word “Odyssiad®” was derived from “Odyssey” and signifies the festival’s motto: “A Journey to the Performance of a Lifetime.” The Odyssiad® competition is open to the Solo Division in four age groups: Level A (13 and under), B (14-18), C (19-23), D (24-35), and the Complete Concerto Division (open to all ages), with the winner performing with the Boulder Symphony. The Preliminary Round is all judged online by uploaded videos, photos, bios, etc., with the top 12 in each age level advancing to the LIVE Semifinal Round in Fort Collins. Unique to the Odyssiad® competition is the new Odyssiad® judging system used in the Final Round whereby three judges score each performance separately for Technical Merit and Artistic Merit, writing their scores, displaying them, and having them read aloud to the audience. All competitive rounds of the Odyssiad® are LIVE and Free to the public. The level of technique and artistry of these young pianists is simply amazing! Two of our previous Gold Medalists were just accepted into the Van Cliburn International Youth Competition, and another was selected by the world-famous pianist, Lang Lang, to travel and perform concerts with his foundation as one of his hand-selected “Lang Lang Scholars”.
This year IKOF will celebrate its 8th season, from July 29 to August 3, 2019, and will once again stage a live competition for some of the most talented young pianists from all over the world, with an impressive list of guest artists, jurists, and pedagogues for the educational festival, and an incredible series of five evening concerts with world-renowned pianists performing in Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) on the CSU campus. Headliners for the five evening concerts of the 2019 International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A. are Van Cliburn Gold Medalist, Vadym Kholodenko (Tuesday, July 30); the revolutionary young piano duo, Anderson & Roe (Wednesday, July 31); Russian superstar, Zlata Chochieva (Thursday, Aug. 1); Gold Medalist of the 1996 Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev, Bryan Wallick (Aug. 2 - and new incoming CSU piano professor from South Africa); and the charismatic and scintillating Croatian pianist, Kemal Gekic (Aug. 3). What a lineup! And they will be in Fort Collins for the entire week of the festival judging the Odyssiad® Competition, performing concerts, mentoring the young, aspiring pianists, and giving masterclasses and presentations along with a dozen or so other experts in the field.
Two new aspects of the International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A. (IKOF) will be introduced in 2019: 1) a new Non-Competitive Division of the Odyssiad® (Monday, July 29), and the new 2) Single-Movement Concerto Division, the winner of which will also perform with the Boulder Symphony (Semifinal Round, Monday, July 29, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., Griffin Concert Hall).
Details and Complete Schedule: Odyssiad.com
IKOF brings people together from all parts of the world, bridging cultural differences through the universal language of music. It is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-national piano event where competitors, performers, judges, and community audience members gather to celebrate their mutual love for classical piano regardless of their country of origin, nationality, religion, gender or political perspective.
The dedicated task to grow an international piano competition and festival headquartered in Fort Collins is making a huge impact on the cultural milieu and reputation of this city. IKOF is a summer event for residents, visitors, and tourists while other cultural organizations are generally in their off-season. In 2018 alone, it was estimated to have an economic impact of over $200,000 in just 5 days of the summer, and already in 2019 the number of applicants and participants has increased by 70 %. IKOF offers a combination of free and modestly-priced events and activities to encourage residents in all socio-economic levels to learn more about and enjoy the beauty of classical music. Masterclasses and educational presentations welcome piano students of all ages and skill levels to further their knowledge, as well as individuals wanting to experience the impact of hearing the greatest pianists in the world on the stage of Griffin Hall in Fort Collins.
What is the story behind how you started IKOF?
I founded IKOF in 2011 after two years of exhaustive research and preparation. The International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A. (IKOF), a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, has grown in stature and significance, annually presenting some of the finest pianists and professionals in the world for the local community. My vision to make Fort Collins the headquarters of a world-class piano competition and festival is being realized as competitors from around the world and across the nation travel to Fort Collins every year. Some of the countries represented so far are Russia, South Africa, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, China, Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Canada, Tajikistan, and the U.S. states of New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Utah, Mississippi, Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, etc.
For one week every summer, Fort Collins becomes a beacon for the most talented pianists ready to perform for the local community. IKOF is a truly world-class music experience that would, in another region, be inaccessible to many. IKOF's audience extends beyond Fort Collins into northern Colorado, the Front Range, Kansas, Wyoming and other neighboring states with some audience members coming from as far away as Georgia to hear evening concerts. Both the quality and quantity of pianists entering the Odyssiad® Competition has been increasing each year, establishing IKOF as a cultural destination for classical piano competitors, performers, and audiences alike.
Get to know Dr. Janet Landreth...
Dr. Janet Landreth, recently retired Professor of Piano and Keyboard Area Coordinator at Colorado State University, is founder and director of the International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Dr. Janet Landreth, D.M.A., M.M., B.M. studied piano with Jean Marie Darré and Pierre Barbizet at the Académie Internationale d’Èté in Nice, France, and received the coveted Performer's Certificate with Special Merit. A student of Celia Mae Bryant and Busoni winner, Aldo Mancinelli, at The University of Oklahoma and Tulsa University, respectively, and John Perry at the Aspen Music School and Festival, she has been the recipient of numerous performance awards including the Bloch Young Artist Award and the Dean's Award for Outstanding Artistic Performance. Dr. Landreth has appeared as soloist with the Colorado Symphony, the Centennial Symphony, the Jackson Symphony, the Oklahoma Symphony, and the Fort Collins Symphony, among others, in performances of the Rachmaninov Concerto No. 2, the Schumann Concerto in A-minor, the Beethoven Concertos No. 2 (B-flat major), No. 4 (G-major), and No. 5 (E-flat major), the Liszt Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, and the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue. Many of her students have also won prizes and awards, including ten that have been featured soloists with the Colorado Symphony. As recent as 2019, her undergraduate student, Frank Zhou, took 1st Place in the Young Artist Division of the Colorado Music Teachers’ Association state competition.
Dr. Landreth combines an active career as an artist-teacher and performer with international research and travel. She has performed recitals or presented her research at international venues on three continents. She studied Alexander Technique in London, England and spent five months in Rio de Janeiro at the Museu Villa-Lobos researching the piano music of the great Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. A featured soloist in the International Deia Music Festival in Mallorca, Spain in August of 2000, she performed in the magical setting of Son Marroig, the former royal residence of Archduke Ludwig Salvador of Austria. In 2002, she was one of four scholars from the United States whose research paper “Settings of Folk Tunes and Children's Songs in the Solo Piano Music of Villa-Lobos” was selected for presentation at the 1st International Villa-Lobos Conference in Paris, France. The conference was organized by the musicology department of the University of Helsinki, Finland and the Villa-Lobos Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and took place in the Finnish Cultural Center in the heart of Paris. In 2002, Dr. Landreth was invited to serve on a doctoral thesis jury at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on a project related to her dissertation research on the French composer, André Jolivet. In 2004, she was an invited guest artist at the III International Latin American Piano Music Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and in 2008 she presented research on Villa-Lobos at the International Experiencing Villa-Lobos Music Festival at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
In addition to her career as a performer, teacher, and scholar, she has organized and hosted many keyboard workshops, master classes, and concerts by visiting artists from around the world.
What do you want visitors to experience at IKOF?
The exhilarating experience of hearing some of the most famous pianists in the world today LIVE and hearing and watching several generations of gifted young pianists rising to the challenge of competitive performance as they make their mark on the very competitive world of classical piano.
Anything else you wanted to add…
JOIN US AND BE AMAZED!
(All Photos courtesy The International Keyboard Odyssiad & Festival)
International Keyboard Odyssiad® & Festival, U.S.A.
Address: Box 1964, Fort Collins, CO 80522
Phone: (970) 402-3277
Hours of Operation: M-F, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.