2021 Conference Presenters

2021 Conference Keynote Speaker
Jon Schmidt was born to German Immigrant parents, who gave him the gift of early education in music. Classical training fell on the fertile ground of Jon’s natural talents for music and hard work. He began composing as early as age 11. He started teaching piano lessons when most people get a driver's license and he began a successful solo career in his early twenties.

Schmidt worried about a career in music. He worried that his family would think that sheet music does not taste good with ranch dressing. So in college he studied English with plans to get an MBA. People kept pestering him over and over to play piano for them, which led him to risk renting a large concert hall to present himself to the public. His audience loved him. He has never gone back to his English and business plans. His wife Michelle and their five children have never had to eat sheet music—even as a side dish.

Jon’s 20 year solo career has included many albums, performances, and awards. The Piano Guys entrapped Schmidt with their lair of beautiful pianos. Shortly thereafter, they all ran away together to create spectacular piano/cello video content. Their goal is humble—to inspire those that may listen. Schmidt contributes not just to the on-screen piano talent, but he loves to throw out all of his ideas, and he is not afraid to edit and revise until he has a refined and quality product.

Jon finds his fire for the journey seeing the joy of people who hear great music. He is thrilled to reach a wider audience through his work with The Piano Guys.
Guest Presenters/Performers

The Latsos Piano Duo, recent winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions, has been praised for its “brilliance and stylistic insight” by Los Angeles Weekly.

The duo was enthusiastically formed in 2014 by pianists Giorgi Latso and his wife Anna Fedorova Latso. Since then they have showcased a true passion, deep maturity and sensitivity in their interpretations. The Latsos are a favourite among many concert organisers and promoters with the Internationale Chopin-Gesellschaft calling their performances “thrilling and flamboyant” and the MTNA Society hails their "intelligence, liveliness and enormous charm’'.

The duo performs at concert halls across Europe, America and Asia including Music Center and Marquis Theater in Los Angeles, LACMA, Turgenev Art Gallery in Moscow, Yamaha Center in Bangkok, Imperial Marmorsaal Concert Hall, Ehrbarsaal in Vienna, Linzer Stadthalle, after which the Oberösterreichische Nachrichten hailed them for being “as expressive as they are technically perfect”. Recent festivals include Chopin Music Festival, International Classical Concerts in Rancho Mirage, Schubertiade Music Festival, the Osterfestival Tirol, the Aspen Music Festival, the Ruhr Piano Festival, Steinway Festival, etc. Moreover, the duo has been recently invited by legendary pianist Maria João Pires to perform at the Belgais Center for Arts in Portugal.

The Latsos have performed and recorded a number of unusual and largely unknown treasures from the duo-piano repertoire, including all the Schubert duets and duos. “The Latsos shine in enchantingly intimate dialogue and impress with their expression of emotional unrest” as German Kreiszeitung describes them. The Latsos are often guests on radios such as K-USC Radio, “Classic FM” Sunday Live, NDR Kultur, America Matters, KCKQ-AM 1180 and many more. One of their recent concert presentations held at the historic Doheny Estate & Gardens as part of the Music in the Mansion Series was filmed by Beverly Hills Warner Cable Television and live-streamed worldwide on BHTV10 Channel.

They have also arranged for 2 pianos and four-hands transcriptions from a selected American movie scores by the celebrated composers such as John Williams, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, John Sousa, etc. and has been hailed "one of the finest transcribers of our time" in the European press.

Giorgi and Anna Latso combine performance and teaching. As music educators, they have presented master classes and lectures at a number of universities in Europe, Russia, Asia, as well as across the United States and regularly invited to perform at prestigious music halls and scholarly conferences worldwide as well as served as judges at various international, national and regional piano competitions.
Guest Presenters

Brillante is an internationally recognized mother-daughter piano duo consisting of Lenora Ford Brown and Heather Thompson Smits. They travel globally, performing their own sparkling arrangements of classical & popular music. Touted for their energy, impressive synchronization, and musicality, Brillante has received rave reviews. The collaboration of these pianists is seen as an unusual combination, with each member living in a different state, yet managing to rehearse and perform regularly.

Lenora is a professor of music at the University of Utah and also maintains a private teaching studio. She has performed in Europe, extensively in the Far East, and throughout the United States. She is a multiple time winner of the Utah Arts Council Performing Tour, the Best of State award, and was a performer at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Lenora is a Steinway artist and has been soloist with the Utah Symphony numerous times and a guest pianist at conventions, concert series and recitals. She has performed in Washington DC, at Steinway Hall in New York and twice at Carnegie Hall. She is a MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher.

Heather is active as a performer and a highly recognized teacher of piano in the Santa Cruz area of California. Utilizing her psychology degree, Heather is recognized for her ability to emotionally connect with young students. She inspires children and teens with the latest popular music and teaching technology while incorporating the essentials of classical training. Many of her students have won local piano competitions, received superior ratings in the Certificate of Merit program and have been chosen to perform in honors and winner’s recitals. Heather was classically trained by her mother. She is an MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher and serves as board chair in the Santa Cruz Branch of MTAC.

Brown/Smits were first place winners in the United States Classical International Piano Competition in 2017. They received gold medals following their performance at Carnegie Hall. Since forming their partnership in 2017, Brillante has performed at the international Mu Phi Epsilon Convention in Denver, Colorado, the Temple Square Concert Series, a MTNA fund raising banquet, and at the 2018 World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia. Recently, they were featured artists at the California Music Teachers Convention. The duo is unique because they are a mother/daughter team and they perform Lenora’s arrangements, which are sought after world-wide.