ROCHESTER, NY — Zarina Melik-Stepanova, a 26-year old piano student of Natalya Antonova at the Eastman School of Music, has just played her way into a $10,000 first prize win and two years of professional career management through the Young Artists Auditions of the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC).
A native of Baku in the former Soviet Republic, Melik-Stepanova received her master’s degree — and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate — from Eastman, where she is beginning her third year as a doctoral student. “Zarina has two special qualities that make her very unique,” says a proud Antonova. “She has a very natural and poetic approach to music, and she is able to create a special aura of confidence which translates into an impressive stage presence.”
Thirteen competition hopefuls entered the preliminary round by submitting 30 minutes of playing on CD. Five semi-finalists then were chosen to perform in Nashville at the NFMC convention, where judges narrowed the field down to two finalists. After the final round of playing, Ms. Melik-Stepanova was named as the first prize winner, and as such, receives the $10,000 cash prize, and will be touring throughout the country over the next two years, hosted by local and regional NFMC organizations. Her first tour begins in Arkansas in September, where she will perform in five cities throughout the state. The following month, she will be featured at the NFMC Ohio State Convention. The NFMC has several thousand members throughout every state in the country.