HESSTON  – Piano and organ students ranging from elementary- to college-age will learn from accomplished musicians and compete in Hesston College’s second keyboard festival and competition on Saturday, Feb. 23.

In celebration of great composers like Handel, Vivaldi and Bach, the festival will focus on the Baroque period of music that ranged from the early 1600’s to about 1750.

“Hesston College has strong organ and keyboard faculty; especially our Baroque keyboard instrument study is wonderful,” said Dr. Mei Li, adjunct piano instructor. “This festival gives us a chance to invite world-class organists and pianists as guest artists, and to give keyboard students from the state an opportunity to learn from them.”

Participants will compete by age division in a morning competition, interwoven with workshop presentations. In the afternoon, faculty and guest performers will hold masterclasses.

At 3:45 p.m., division finalists will perform a recital, which will determine age division winners. The public is welcome to attend the finalists recital in Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus.

Keyboardists resourcing the event include guest artists, Dr. Steven Spooner and Marco bij de Vaate, as well as Hesston College faculty members Dr. Li, and Ken Rodgers, M.A.

Dr. Spooner, who serves on the piano faculty at the University of Kansas (Lawrence), is hailed among the forefront of American pianists. Passionately devoted to the solo recital as a platform for innovation, he has performed often at venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Shanghai Concert Hall, Budapest’s Great Hall of the Liszt Academy, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Marco bij de Vaate is the organist at the Doopsgezinde Kerk (Mennonite Church) of Haarlem, the Netherlands. A graduate of the Amsterdam Conservatory and a past winner of the Prix d’Excellence, bij de Vaate is an active concert performer throughout Europe.

Dr. Li began studying piano as a five-year-old in China with the renowned Chinese piano pedagogue, Zhaoyi Dan. After earning a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Sichuan Conservatory of Music and working as a teaching assistant for Professor Dan, Li came to the U.S. in 2006 with a full scholarship to study at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb), earning a performance certificate and master’s degree in piano performance. She earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas, under the tutelage of Dr. Spooner.




Rodgers teaches organ at Hesston College, and has accompanied Hesston choirs on bi-annual European tours since the late 1980s, as well as performed recitals throughout Germany and the United States. Rodgers earned a master’s degree in church music from the University of Kansas. In addition to teaching, he has performed frequently as a collaborative pianist for former internationally-acclaimed baritone Anthony Brown throughout the world. Rodgers is also a founding member of the Sunflower Trio, which features piano/organ, violin and tenor voice.