Since 2008, this week-long program has brought talented young pianists from around the world to CIM for an immersive experience designed to cultivate and nurture the aspirations of serious young musicians. Directed by Dr. Sean Schulze and drawing on the distinguished faculty of CIM, Summer Sonata features multiple performance opportunities and regular individual lessons and group classes in theory, Eurhythmics, form and composition, improvisation, piano literature and more.

Alumni of the program have been contestants and prizewinners at several regional and international competitions, including the MTNA National Performance Competition, Gina Bachauer Competition and Thomas & Evon Cooper Piano Competition. Our alumni have distinguished themselves as concerto soloists with orchestras throughout the U.S. and have appeared at major piano festivals in the U.S. and abroad. The Summer Sonata program has welcomed distinguished guest artists over the years, including Antonio Pompa-Baldi, Peter Takacs, Alvin Chow, Daniel Shapiro, Kathryn Brown, Emanuela Friscioni, Zsolt Bognar, Donna Lee, Angelin Chang, Sungeun Kim, Tianshu Wang and Jerry Wong.

Special Guest Artists for 2020

summer sonata guests
Left to right: Peter Takács, Daniel Shapiro, Kathryn Brown

This year’s roster includes Peter Takács, renowned professor of piano at Oberlin Conservatory, and CIM faculty members Daniel Shapiro and Kathryn Brown.

Program Details

Talented young pianists aged 12-18 are welcome to apply for the 2020 Summer Sonata program, which runs in June. Musicians of exceptional ability who are not yet 12 years of age will be considered. Learn more about the program and its core faculty.

Learn More

Program Details & Timeline

  • Accepted students are expected to bring at least two performance-ready works to the program and are encouraged to bring more repertoire, as appropriate.
  • All students are placed in a duet team. Music is mailed to accepted students in early May and is to be prepared in anticipation of the start date of the program.
  • Instructional activities are scheduled between 9am-6pm each day.
  • All students are scheduled to perform as soloists in the public master classes.
  • Private lessons and master class performances with our guest artists are based on the initial video audition.
  • The program concludes with a performance in Mixon Hall.
  • Housing is available for students traveling from out of town for an additional fee.

Core Piano Faculty

  • Julia Russ
  • Sean Schulze
  • Sandra Shapiro
  • Shuai Wang
  • Weizhen Yang

Application & Audition

Interested applicants are required to complete CIM's online application and provide an audition video. Application materials are no longer being accepted for summer 2020.

For the audition video, applicants are required to share a YouTube link with their application that includes two contrasting works for solo piano from two style periods. Audition repertoire should include works from the classical repertoire at a minimum difficulty level of Bach 2-part Inventions, early Beethoven Sonatas (Op.49) and above.

For inquiries, please email