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Eleanor R. Williamson 2nd Annual
Piano Festival & Competition 

In Partnership with UpBeat Music Foundation 501 (c)(3) 
Sponsored by Chesapeake Fine Arts Commission & National Endowment for the Arts



Multiple Divisions for Chesapeake's K-12 Musicians

Each participant will receive constructive feedback from our highly qualified judges on grading sheets as well as a certificate of achievement.  Finalists are invited to a Public Performance and Master Class Opportunity. 

About Eleanor R. Williamson

Eleanor R. Williamson was an accomplished pianist and patron of the Arts. She believed in the concept of music as a universal language that brought together people of all backgrounds and nationalities.  She travelled extensively and developed relationships across the globe.

Her passions included celebrating composers such as Puccini as she worked with Virginia Opera Association and organizing Choral Events in Hampton Roads.  Her children and grandchildren have continued on with lives defined by music, both instrumental and voice.

The seeds sewn by Eleanor and their progeny will continue to sprout new roots. The Williamson family is proud to partner with the Chesapeake School of Music and UpBeat Music Foundation 501(c)(3) to launch this premier music event of Chesapeake.

Elizabeth Williamson Piano Competition

How to Register


Read the rules of the competition

(click here for rules!)


Preliminary round (4/13/24) will be a private audition on a grand piano at the Chesapeake School of Music

810 S. Battlefield Blvd, Suite B

Chesapeake, VA 23322


 Final round (4/13/24) will be public

Great Bridge Presbyrterian Church

333 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Preliminary Round

4/13/2024 starting at 9am

at CSoM

810 S Battlefield, Suite B

Chesapeake, VA 23322

Judges are piano professors from William and Mary, Virginia Wesleyan University, and Governor's School of the Arts

Guest Artist Recital

4/13/2024 3pm at

Great Bridge Presbyterian Church

presented by Dr. Brendan Kinsella

Open to everyone!

Preliminary Results annouced at conclusion of the performance

Final Round

4/13/2024 following the Guest Artist Recital of Dr. Kinsella

Great Bridge Presbyterian

Following Adjudication the Scholarships will be distributed to the finalists. 

Master Class

Virtual Session TBD

Feauturing Select Finalist with Dr. Kinsella with an interactive performance/teaching format

We’re honored to have Pianist Dr. Brendan Kinsella adjudicate our piano competition this year. ​
Pianist Brendan Kinsella

Described as a “sensitive musician with an ear for color” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, pianist Brendan Kinsella’s recent concert engagements have taken him to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Holland, Italy, and other cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.  He earned his Bachelor (with honors) and Master of Music degrees at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as a pupil of Frank Weinstock (with additional coaching from James Tocco and Kenneth Griffiths) and in 2008 received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City as a student of Robert Weirich.  In master classes, he has performed for artists such as Christopher Elton, Susan Graham, Martin Katz, Ani Kavafian, Anne-Akiko Meyers, Frederic Rzewski, Andre-Michel Schub, Peter Serkin, David Shifrin, Midori, and the Takacs Quartet.  He completed his training as a Solo Piano Fellow at the Music Academy of the West, working under the guidance of Jerome Lowenthal, Professor of Piano at the Juilliard School.  In 2010, he debuted as a soloist in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and was a featured concerto soloist at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago.

Kinsella has appeared in concerti ranging from Beethoven to Brahms to Barber with the Kentucky Symphony, the Jefferson City Symphony, the CCM Chamber and Concert Orchestras, the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra, and the UMKC Wind Symphony in collaboration with conductors Xian Zhang, Steve Davis, and Robert Olson.  As a collaborative pianist, he has performed both as an orchestral pianist and in duo-recitals with members of the New World Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Dayton Philharmonic, the Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera, and in recital with artists such as Benny Kim, Carter Enyeart, Daniel Saenz, and his wife, Shoko.  From 2010-2012, he coached and performed as a Guest Artist in Collaborative Piano at the soundSCAPE Composition Festival in Maccagno, Italy and additionally served as an Artist-Teacher of Piano at the Maccagno Piano Days Festival in 2015 and 2016.

A noted interpreter of all things dissonant, Kinsella’s all-contemporary recitals featuring the works of living masters and emerging voices have garnered wide acclaim.  Of a performance of Rzewski’s De Profundis in Montecito, the Santa Barbara Daily Sound remarked that “Kinsella’s performance was truly astonishing, as he missed nary a beat nor tripped over any words. The sense of terror, misery, despair, disdain, and righteous anger was palpable, and the essay is ultimately life-affirming if horrifying…I’m glad to have heard it, especially by such a passionate and gifted pianist who clearly believed in his mission.”  The Kansas City Star declared that his performances of George Crumb’s chamber repertoire were “marvelous…he displayed convincing tonal colors, impressive technique, and incisive rhythms.”   Utrecht’s Le Bon Journal described a 2011 solo recital of Beethoven, Rzewski, Liszt, and Poulenc as characterized by the “indestructible force and optimism that Americans can radiate proverbially.”  In 2014, his national concert tour of Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated! was the subject of a full-length profile article in the Houston Chronicle and a corresponding radio interview on Houston Public Media.

Among Kinsella’s experiences as a lecturer and visiting artist at festivals and universities include engagements at the University of Washington School of Music, the Texas A&M Contemporary Music Festival, the 2013 International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Thought, the 2011 College Music Society South Central Conference, the Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, the University of Iowa School of Music, and many others.  His seminar topics have included lectures on keyboard music of the Italian Renaissance, recent developments in avant-garde American music, the influence of Greek philosophy on Olivier Messiaen’s piano music, and studies on the evolving role of the collaborative pianist in selected chamber repertoire.  American Music Teacher published his essay on alternative learning strategies in its “This and That” Column of the June/July 2017 issue.  

A dedicated teacher, Kinsella presently serves as Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, where he teaches applied piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and piano literature.  Members of his select studio of graduate and undergraduate pianists regularly participate in prestigious national and international summer festivals, perform in master classes for distinguished artists (such as Jerome Lowenthal, James Dick, and Adam Wodnicki), present their scholarly research at professional conferences, and gain admittance to prestigious master’s and doctoral programs nationwide.  Before joining the faculty at UTRGV, he was as a member of the piano area at Missouri Western State University and held graduate assistantships in piano and collaborative piano at CCM and UMKC.  

Born 1980 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kinsella began playing the piano at age 11 and made his concerto debut at 15.  A live recording of his performance of Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques at the Midwest Clinic is commercially available from the MarkRecords label, and his recording of Narong Prangcharoen’s chamber music was released on Albany records in 2012 to favorable reviews.  His recent and upcoming engagements include performances of concerti by Bach, Beethoven, and Grieg; a series of outreach and recruitment concerts throughout Texas with his collegiate studio; and performances of The People United Will Never Be Defeated! throughout Mexico. 


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