Classical Piano

Des Moines Area Piano Festival

The third annual event will be held on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at the Salisbury House & Gardens in Des Moines.


Information and Registration

1 p.m., Sunday, February 27, 2022
Salisbury House & Gardens (4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines IA 50312)

Presented by: Mobile Music Lessons

Sponsored by: Museum of Danish America, Salisbury House & Gardens, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery

Thank you for your interest in the 2022 Des Moines Area Piano Festival, a professionally-adjudicated performance opportunity for students in a friendly, welcoming environment.

About the Festival:

The third annual Festival will be held 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at the Salisbury House & Gardens. Pianists in grades K-12 from the Des Moines metro area (Des Moines and all surrounding suburbs) are invited to participate. Once again, the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition will be held in conjunction with the Des Moines Area Piano Festival. Total 2022 participants will be capped at 54. In the case of inclement weather, the Festival may switch to a virtual platform. Learn more about this year's Festival, including the Steinway pianos featured and additional details about the adjudicators.

COVID-19 Precautions:

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people are present. Mobile Music Lessons is taking preventative measures as recommended by health officials and the CDC at the Des Moines Area Piano Festival, and the measures are subject to change depending on health officials' guidance. All performers and guests will be required to wear a mask upon entering the Salisbury House and throughout their time there, including during auditions and seminars. Performers are encouraged to use hand sanitizer prior to and after their audition and to social distance from others while at the Festival. 

1-3:15 p.m.: Auditions (including Victor Borge Legacy Award auditions)
3:30-4 p.m.: Master class by Dr. Huang
4-4:30 p.m.: Seminar: The Many Ways to Move Those Levers: The Essentials of Piano Technique by Dr. Lecuona
4:30 p.m.: Announcement of the winners of the Victor Borge Legacy Award


To register, please complete the following steps: 

1. Fill out the registration form.

2. Pay the $20 registration fee (payable at or via the link on the registration form).

The registration form and payment must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 18 before a student is registered to participate in the 2022 Des Moines Area Piano Festival and/or the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition. Participants will be notified of their audition time by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, February 21. All performance times are final and no refunds will be offered. The registration fee includes an audition on a Steinway piano, adjudication scoring/comments and a participation ribbon, and access to the seminars by Drs. Huang and Lecuona (see schedule above). 

Audition Information: 

Please be on time for your assigned audition time. You are welcome to stay and listen to others' auditions. All are encouraged to stay for the seminars by Drs. Huang and Lecuona (see schedule above). All entrants should bring a score (with measures numbered) of their memorized piece to the audition.

Adjudication Criteria & Evaluation:

All participants will be evaluated by a professional adjudicator and will receive a rating, comments and a participation ribbon corresponding to their score. Each student will begin with a memorized technical exercise (below) and then perform a memorized piece that showcases the student's current playing level. Each audition is a maximum of five minutes total per student. The rating and comments will be sent to the student's instructor. The 2022 adjudication criteria may be viewed here.

Technical Exercise Requirements:

Please consult with your student's instructor regarding your student's current playing level. Scales and cadence patterns are to be memorized and in the key of the memorized audition piece. The audition will progress in the following order: scale, cadence pattern, audition piece.

Beginner: Play a one-octave scale and a I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands (chords may be simplified).

Intermediate: Play a two-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands. 

Advanced: Play a four-octave scale and a I-IV-I-V7-I cadence pattern with both hands.

Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition: 

If the Piano Festival entrant is at an advanced playing level and in grades 8-12, they are invited to participate in the Victor Borge Legacy Award Competition at the 2022 Des Moines Area Piano Festival. No additional repertoire is required, and the student will be adjudicated as part of his/her Piano Festival audition. 

Previous second place Victor Borge Legacy Award winners are eligible to enter; previous first place Legacy Award winners are ineligible to enter. 

First and second place winners will receive an award of $1,000 and $500, respectively, which will be given to the winners after they perform at least two memorized, classical pieces (10 minutes total) in a recital (date TBD) on the Victor Borge piano at the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. Failure to perform in the recital will result in forfeiting the award money.

In addition, winners will submit a 500-word essay about the legacy of Victor Borge (due April 2, 2022), which will be judged by a panel that includes Borge's daughter, Janet Borge Crowle, for an additional $500 cash prize.

Funding for the Victor Borge Legacy Award is provided through a generous gift from R. James and Janet Borge Crowle, Saint Michaels, Maryland. Additional support provided by the Charles W. and Norma J. Wilson Foundation and the Eric & Joan Norgaard Charitable Trust.


With questions, please email Des Moines Area Piano Festival Director Sophia S. Ahmad at

Follow @DSMPianoFestival:

Facebook | Instagram


2022 Adjudicators

Rene Lecuona.jpg

Dr. Réne Lecuona

Adjudicator, Victor Borge Legacy Award

Dr. Réne Lecuona has been praised by critics in Germany, the UK, and the US for her chamber music interpretations and solo performances: “The imagery of the music is perfectly conveyed by Vogel and Lecuona in an inspired performance… this is chamber music at its best” (; “As throughout the entire album, Lecuona’s performance is magnificent…” (David Murray: Bass World); “Lecuona’s interpretation of Mozart was outstanding…” (Daily Iowan). Dr. Lecuona has performed throughout South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall with mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with soprano Rachel Joselson. Her playing has been featured on many compact discs, including a recording of the music of Margaret Brouwer (CRI label), which won the 2000 Contemporary Art Music Burton Award. She may be heard on Centaur Records, Innova Recordings, Capstone Records, Cybele Recording, Albany Records, and Composers Recordings International.

Dr. Lecuona is professor of piano at The University of Iowa. A devoted teacher, Réne has prepared students for admission and scholarship in performance programs at prestigious institutions such as the New England Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Florida State University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Peabody Conservatory, and Aspen Music Festival. Her former students hold teaching posts in Germany and Brazil as well as in the U.S.

Réne Lecuona earned a doctor of musical arts degree in piano performance and was awarded a performer’s certificate at the Eastman School of Music. She received undergraduate and master's degrees at the Indiana University School of Music. Her major teachers have included Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio, the late György Sebök, Edward Auer, Shigeo Neriki, and Rebecca Penneys. Réne was raised in Corning, New York and studied piano for many years with Laurie Conrad of Ithaca, New York. She lives in Coralville, Iowa with her husband Andrew and their son Sebastian.

MeiHsuan Huang_resize.jpg

Dr. Mei-Hsuan Huang

Adjudicator, Des Moines Area Piano Festival

Pianist Mei-Hsuan Huang is Associate Professor of Piano at Iowa State University and a member of the Ames Piano Quartet (Joanne Rile Artists Management).

Huang has been a prizewinner in several international piano competitions, including the USASU International Piano Competition in Tempe, Arizona, the 57th Wideman Piano Concerto Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the International Chopin Piano Competition in Taipei, Taiwan. She regularly performs over fifty solo and chamber recitals every year in Europe, States, Canada and Taiwan. She has been invited to summer festivals including the 2006 Aspen Music Festival, the 2007 Pianofest in the East Hamptons, the 2008 Orford Music Festival, Quebec, the 2010 Atlantic Music Festival in Maine, the 2012 CICA Eureka Springs International Music Festival in Arkansas, and the 2012 and 2013 Banff Music Festival, Alberta. Festivals increasingly ask for her presence on their artist rosters. Recently, Huang also was presented in a piano recital in National Taiwan Concert Hall (Taipei), as a result of being nominated for the prize of “Excellent Musician Series” by ProArtist. She also gave a sold out concert (Chamber Label Management) in 2017 at National Taiwan Concert Hall and TaiChung Opera House. 

In 2013, Huang performed George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Central Iowa Symphony, Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Iowa State University Orchestra, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with the Des Moines Symphony. In 2017, she performed Bach’s F Minor Keyboard Concerto and numerous chamber concerts with the Caroga Lake Chamber Orchestra in New York and Switzerland. Huang has travelled with the Amara Quartet to perform at the Colours of Music Festival in Barrie, Ontario and on concert series in Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. The quartet released compact disc on the Fleur de Son label in 2016, a recording of American quartets that will feature the piano quartet by George Tsontakis’ Piano Quartet No. 3, Dark Rosaleen—written by Lee Hoiby for the Ames Piano Quartet—a piano quartet by Walter Piston and Carolina Reveille by Paul Schoenfield. The quartet released compact disc on the Fleur de Son label in 2018 including both Faure Piano Quartets. Huang was recently invited to perform Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" with the Central Iowa Symphony and Iowa State University Orchestra.

Besides performing, Huang is dedicated and passionate about teaching. She maintains a strong studio in Ames, Iowa where she teaches a select number of high school students along with her university students. Students of Huang have won and placed in numerous regional and local competitions, including Fort Dodge Concerto Competition, Central Iowa Young Artist Competition, Terrace Hill Piano Competition, Iowa State Fair Talented Show, Iowa Teacher Music Association (IMTA) competition and Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) competition.

Huang received her bachelor’s degree at The National Taiwan Normal University, where, she won the prestigious Xing Tang Temple Piano Competition Prize. She received her master’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Sergei Babayan, Margarita Shevchenko, and Paul Schenly. She received her doctorate of musical arts degree at The Ohio State University under a full scholarship.

Huang is on piano faculty at The Atlantic Music Festival in Maine and guest pianist at Caroga Music Festival in New York during the summer.

Huang was named a Steinway & Sons Artist since 2014. She is also the recipient of 2019 Steinway Top Teacher Award and 2021 Steinway Teacher Hall of Fame.