A Word from the Artistic Director


In July 2003 I approached Sibyl Sanford on bended knee at her home in Bellingham, proposing that she sponsor a piano series at Western that would bear her name. She readily accepted, and The Sanford Piano Series was launched. In 2011, Sibylís lifelong friend and former piano teacher Ford Hill decided that he would match her commitment, thus resulting in a renamed Sanford-Hill Piano Series. Although their friendship dates back to 1977, and I arrived at Western in 1992, I consider Sibyl and Ford to be my lifelong friends as well. Aside from their philanthropic vision for the series, Sibyl claims that it is her affection for Ford and me that is the basis for what makes the whole thing work. During the first ten years of the series, Ford traveled to international piano competitions such as the Cliburn and made subsequent recommendations to me whom he would like to see perform on the series. Through perseverance with agents and sheer luck with scheduling, all of his favorites have thus far played on Sanford-Hill. In 2013 I attended the semi-final round of the competition in Ft. Worth as an Official Guest of the Cliburn Foundation. My two favorites, Vadym Kholodenko (Ukraine) and Beatrice Rana (Italy), went on to win the Gold and Silver medals respectively. In the all-college meeting in Sept. 2013, I was challenged by the dean to bring the best of the 2013 Cliburn to Western. I am thrilled that we were successful in booking both Vadym and Beatrice for 2014-15. The magnificent Swiss pianist Gilles Vonsattel tops off our all-European 2014-15 series.

- Jeffrey Gilliam