Gala cropped
Gala-6720 cropped
previous arrow
next arrow

Forte/Piano Summer Academy
Cornell-Westfield Center for Historical Keyboards
July 31-August 7, 2022

For seven days on the Cornell University campus, 12 young pianists will be invited from around the world on full-tuition to be immersed in one of the world’s most significant collections of performance-ready historical pianos. Participants will work intimately with internationally-renowned artists in daily masterclasses and have the opportunity of a lifetime to practice daily and perform on historical pianos from the Cornell collection, which consists of some of the most outstanding exemplars associated with all major composers. Surrounded by the idyllic setting of New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, the residential life of an Ivy League university further enriches learning, experimentation, and collaboration with peers and faculty.

Welcome message from the Artistic Director

Over the past 30 years, the notion of the “piano” has become progressively less singular than it once was. Highly visible artists today such as Sir András Schiff, Daniel Barenboim, and others regularly perform and record on pianos from the past centuries alongside the modern concert grand, breaking down the once rigid boundaries that separated the “fortepiano” from the “piano.” Our mission is to celebrate and embrace a plural notion of the piano and the diverse approaches it engenders. With the inaugural Cornell-Westfield Summer Academy, we hope to help develop the quintessential 21st-century pianist, one who straddles comfortably between the once separate spheres of historical and modern performance, who can be fluent in performing on pianos and repertories that span the history of this glorious instrument.

We welcome you to explore these pages, apply, and visit us this August on the Cornell campus to witness the artistry of our young performers and international faculty in lecture, masterclass, and recital.

Mike Cheng-Yu Lee
Cornell University

  • A curriculum concentrating on solo piano repertoire ranging from the late Baroque to the early 20th century, explored through all of the representative pianos spanning this history;
  • The opportunity of a lifetime to daily-practice on historical pianos from one of the great collections of the world, all in performance-ready condition (see available instruments);
  • Perform in 4 masterclasses (one with each artist-faculty) and observe 8 others;
  • The opportunity to perform alongside artist-faculty on the Cornell campus as part of the Cornell Summer Concert Series;
  • Make life-long musical friendships against the idyllic backdrop of the Cornell University campus, Cayuga lake and other natural surroundings of upstate New York;
  • Enjoy a week-long accommodation catered by Cornell Student Housing and Cornell Dining.

Applicants under 35 years of age (by July 31, 2022) of any nationality are welcome. We particularly encourage pianists with no prior experience with historical pianos to apply. While we welcome all backgrounds and experiences, we envision participants to be music students (pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate) or young professional musicians.


Applications are due on May 15, 2022
Decisions will be released by May 20, 2022


All participants are invited on full-tuition waiver, made possible by the generosity of our donors and the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboards. Room-and-board: $500 for the duration of the Academy. Applicants can apply for a limited number of need-based scholarships to aid in the costs of international/domestic travel and room-and-board.


Malcolm Bilson
Professor Emeritus, Cornell University

Malcolm BilsonMalcolm Bilson has been in the forefront of the period-instrument movement for over thirty years. A member of the Cornell Music Department since 1968, he began his pioneering activity in the early 1970s as a performer of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert on late 18th- and early 19th-century pianos. Since then he has proven to be a key contributor to the restoration of the fortepiano to the concert stage and to fresh recordings of the “mainstream” repertory. In addition to an extensive career as a soloist and chamber player, Bilson has toured with the English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner, the Academy of Ancient Music with Christopher Hogwood, the Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan, Tafelmusik of Toronto, Concerto Köln and other early and modern instrument orchestras around the world. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bard College and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Bilson has recorded the three most important complete cycles of works for piano by Mozart: the piano concertos with John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, the piano-violin Sonatas with Sergiu Luca, and the solo piano sonatas. His traversal on period pianos of the Schubert piano sonatas (including the so-called incomplete sonatas) was completed in 2003, and in 2005 a single CD of Haydn sonatas appeared on the Claves label. In the fall of 1994 Bilson and six of his former artist-pupils from Cornell’s D.M.A. program in historical performance practice presented the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven in New York City, the first time ever that these works had been given as a cycle on period instruments. The New York Times said that “what emerged in these performances was an unusually clear sense of how revolutionary these works must have sounded in their time.” The recording of this series garnered over fifty very positive reviews and has recently been reissued.

In addition to his activities in Cornell’s performance-practice program, Professor Bilson teaches piano to both graduate and undergraduate students. He is also adjunct professor at the Eastman School of Music. He gives annual summer fortepiano workshops at various locations in the United States and Europe, as well as master classes and lectures (generally in conjunction with solo performances) around the world. In his educational video entitled “Knowing the Score,” released in 2005, Bilson discusses the question: Do we really know how to read the notation of the so-called ‘classical’ masters?

Tuija Hakkila
Professor of Piano, Sibelius Academy

Tuija HakkilaTuija Hakkila studied at the Sibelius Academy with Liisa Pohjola and Eero Heinonen, and continued her studies at the Paris Conservatoire with Jacques Rouvier and Theodor Paraskivesco. She studied 20th-century music with Claude Helffer in Paris and classical performance practices with Malcolm Bilson in the United States. Other influential teachers have included György Sebök, William Pleeth and Dmitri Bashkirov. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University in New York in 1985/86.

Since 1987 she has held a senior position in piano music at the Sibelius Academy and earned a Doctor of Music degree in 2005. She also taught in the Royal Danish Conservatory in Copenhagen from 2005 through 2008. She regularly gives masterclasses in Finland and in Europe.

She has been the Artistic Director of the Early Music Festival in Hämeenlinna, the Summer Academy and Chamber Music Series in Nurmes, Kaiho Festival at Sello Hall in Espoo and the Sibelius Academy Concert Series.

Hakkila has performed as soloist, in chamber groups and as accompanist throughout Europe, in the United States, Japan, Indonesia, Africa and South America, and has made broadcasts in several countries. She has collaborated with eminent musicians like Vera Beths, Anner Bijlsma, Mikael Helasvuo, Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pilch, Anssi Karttunen, Alexei Lubimov, Karita Mattila and performed with conductors like Okko Kamu, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam and Sakari Oramo. Her repertoire ranges from Bach to contemporary music; she has developed an interest in period instrument performance, presenting classical and romantic programmes on period pianos. She works with a number of today’s composers and is invited to give world premiere performances.

Tuija Hakkila’s solo discography includes the complete cycle of Mozart keyboard sonatas for which she has won acclaim in the world press, a recital of 20th-century piano music and a world premiere recording of the early-19th century Finnish Lithander brothers’ music. Her recent CD “Intimate Landscapes” with Sibelius’ piano works received excellent reviews both in Finland and abroad. In fall 2012 Ondine will release a CD with Hakkila performing in Kaija Saariaho’s chamber music. In addition to this she has recorded Niccoló Castiglioni’s chamber music, Haydn flute trios and Byström sonatas for piano and violin. In the repertoire for cello and piano her discography includes recitals of 20th-century music, Gabriel Fauré’s music and all Beethoven’s works.

Mike Cheng-Yu Lee
Artist-in-Residence (visiting), Cornell University

Mike Lee

Mike Cheng-Yu Lee is one of a new generation of pianists who is at home performing on pianos that span the early 18th to the late 20th centuries. Awarded Second Prize and Audience Prize at the 2011 Westfield International Fortepiano Competition by a jury that included Robert Levin and the late Christopher Hogwood, his performances have garnered attention for the fresh perspectives they bring to familiar repertoire. For his debut recital in Australia he received a rare five-star review in Limelight Magazine: “Try as one might, it was hard to avoid cliché responses like ‘stunning’, even ‘electrifying’. I don’t think I have heard a Mozart recital quite like this. I heard things in Mozart’s music I had never thought possible and certainly had never encountered before.”

As a chamber musician, Mike regularly collaborates with both modern and period performers and ensembles. He has appeared as soloist with the New World Symphony at the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas and collaborated with musicians from the Formosa, Juilliard, and Aizuri quartets among others.

Mike is regularly invited to guest teach and perform at some of the most prominent music schools around the world, including the Royal Academy of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, among others. In 2015-17 he was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University–Bloomington.

Mike studied at the Yale School of Music and holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Cornell University with a dissertation that was awarded the Donald J. Grout Memorial Dissertation Prize. His teachers include Malcolm Bilson, Boris Berman, Michael Friedmann, and the renowned Haydn scholar James Webster.

Roberto Poli
Professor of Piano, New England Conservatory of Music

Roberto PoliBorn in Venice, Italy, Roberto Poli is an eloquent communicator and a rising exponent of the music of Fryderyk Chopin, which he has comprehensively studied through manuscripts and original editions and widely performed throughout the world. A DVD titled “Fryderyk Chopin: the late works,” was released in 2008 on the Rebus label, and features a live performance of Opp. 58-62. A parallel project, begun in June 2009 and supported by the European label Onclassical, features his audio recordings of Chopin’s complete works, now at its sixth volume and distributed by Naxos America. The London-based label Piano Classics released Mr. Poli’s first volume of the complete Chopin recordings in 2011. Roberto Poli’s critically acclaimed debut recording, “Shall we dance…,” was released in 2002 by Americus Records, and features his transcription of Maurice Ravel’s La Valse for solo piano, along with other unusual selections such as Sergio Fiorentino’s transcription of Waltzes from Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, and works by Elizabethan composers. A second album, recorded in 2002, was released by Onclassical and features Franz Liszt’s “Années de Pèlerinage – Deuxième Année: Italie.” In early 2018, Roberto Poli is scheduled to record fourteen works selected from William Byrd’s “My Ladye Nevels Booke” (1591), originally written for virginal, for the Onclassical label.

Roberto Poli’s activity as an author began with the publication of his critically acclaimed first book, “The Secret Life of Musical Notation: defying interpretive traditions” (Amadeus Press, 2010). Based on years of research and performance, and presenting original groundbreaking insights, it features discoveries based on the analysis of Chopin’s manuscripts and early editions, and provides a new vision of his works that is both scholarly and practical. Additionally, the book features the multi-media interaction of text and audio-clips, which illustrate each example in the author’s interpretation. A second book, titled “It’s about Time,” is forthcoming, and discusses the concepts of time, rhythm, and pulse through the eyes of both the musician of the past and the modern man, and how we can relate to the past to find a musical language for the future.

Mr. Poli’s main teacher in his teenage years was Giorgio Vianello, a pupil of Busoni’s disciple Gino Tagliapietra, under whose guidance he graduated from the Venice Conservatory of Music Summa Cum Laude and Honors in 1993. His studies continued under Philippe Cassard, Roni Rogoff, Vladimir Tropp, Tatyana Zelickman, Piero Rattalino, and Eugenio Bagnoli. Between 1994 and 1996, his main inspiration was his work with Boris Petrushansky at the Piano Academy Incontri col Maestro in Imola, Italy. In 1998, Roberto Poli moved to North America, when he was offered a full scholarship to attend the New England Conservatory of Music and follow the great artistry of legendary pianist Russell Sherman. Under Sherman’s guidance, he received a Master’s Degree and the prestigious Artist Diploma.

Roberto Poli is an enthusiastic sought-after teacher and lecturer. From 1999 to 2015, he was on the faculty at The Rivers School Conservatory in Weston, Massachusetts, where he was the Artist-in-Residence and Chair of the Piano Department. He has been on the faculty of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and Continuing Education since 2003. Many of his students went on to studying at prestigious institutions, such as The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Indiana University, and Carnegie Mellon University. In the fall of 2017, Roberto Poli joined the faculty of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he teaches four courses on piano literature. He also enjoys a busy schedule of master classes, and has been a guest lecturer and keynote speaker at institutions such as Cornell University, University of Virginia, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, New England Conservatory of Music, and University of Pennsylvania.

Available Instruments

Instrument makerYearRegionRangeSuggested Composers
(copy by McNulty)
1749SaxonF1 – E6J. S. Bach; C. P. E. Bach; Haydn
(copy by McCobb)
1784South-GermanF1 – F6C. P. E. Bach; Haydn; Mozart; Beethoven
(copy by Wolf and Wolf)
1800VienneseF1 – G6Haydn; Mozart; Beethoven
Broadwood & Sons (restored by Beunk)1799EnglishF1 – C7Haydn; Dussek; Beethoven; Clementi
Walter and Son
(copy by McNulty)
1805VienneseF1 – C7Mozart; Beethoven; Clementi
(restored by Swenson)
1823VienneseC1 – F7Beethoven; Schubert; Schumann; Mendelssohn; Chopin
(copy by Regier)
1825VienneseC1 – F7Beethoven; Schubert; Schumann; Mendelssohn; Chopin
(restored by Casiglia)
1835VienneseC1 – G7Schumann; Mendelssohn; Chopin; Brahms
(restored by Eschete and Walkup)
1843FrenchC1 – G7Chopin; Mendelssohn, Schumann; Liszt
Broadwood & Sons
(restored by Beunk)
1849EnglishF1 – F7Dussek; Chopin; Field
J. B. Streicher
(restored by Swenson)
1857VienneseA0 – A7Schumann; Brahms; Liszt
(restored by Casiglia)
1865FrenchA0 – A7Schumann; Liszt; Brahms; Frank
(restored by Janmaat)
1868FrenchA0 – A7Schumann; Liszt; Brahms; Franck
(restored by Walkup)
1878GermanA0 – A7Brahms; Schoenberg; Debussy; Ravel
Schweighofer & Sons1897VienneseA0 – A7Brahms; Schoenberg; Berg; Webern

The descriptions of each available piano contain suggested composers based on range, dating, and regional/stylistic considerations. We encourage, however, experimentation with work-piano pairings.

Explore the complete collection here.

Sample Daily Schedule

8am – 9amBreakfast + free time/practice
9am – 10amPractice
10am – 12pmMasterclass (I)
12pm – 2:30pmLunch + practice
2:30pm – 4:30pmMasterclass (II)
4:30pm – 5:30pmLecture; workshop
5:30pm – 8pmDinner + free time/practice
8pm – 9:30pmFaculty/participant recital
9:30pm – 10:30pmReception + free time/practice