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Piano Alumnus Brings Music to Life on International Stage

Kenny Broberg (BM Piano ’16) will represent U.S. at the 2017 Van Cliburn Competition.

Kenny Broberg (BM Piano ’16) began turning heads — both on campus and in the local Houston community — as early as his freshman year. Shortly after beginning his studies at the Moores School of Music (MSM), he won the University of Houston’s (UH) concerto competition, a feat practically unheard of for a first-year student.

“Kenny was a truly exceptional student,” said his mentor and chair of the MSM piano program Nancy Weems. She knew he had a unique gift right from the beginning. “At our first lesson together, Kenny came in with his assigned pieces perfectly memorized and played them with the artistic command of a mature pianist,” she recalled. “I knew immediately that his was a very special talent.”

During his studies at UH, Broberg developed a following of local music lovers, including MSM donors Sharon and Bob Lietzow, who were so moved by his music they often contributed funds to help him travel for competitions and other special events. Weems remembers audience members remarking about how his performances brought the music to life. “Kenny is emotionally engaged with every note of the music when he performs,” she explained. “He is dedicated to creating a beautiful work of art with every musical performance.” 

Broberg competed in numerous national and international contests during his undergraduate studies, building a reputation as a rising star by winning awards in the Wideman International Competition, the Dallas International Piano Competition, the Seattle Symphony International Piano Competition, the New Orleans International Piano Competition and the Sydney International Piano Competition. Just this month, he also won first prize in the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition in the U.K.

Now, as a graduate student at Park University studying with acclaimed pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch, Broberg has reached another high moment in his career — he has received an invitation to the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The prestigious competition takes place every four years and draws promising young pianists from around the world hoping to showcase their skills on a global stage. This year, nearly 300 applicants auditioned, only half of which made it to the second round, with even fewer advancing to the final competition. Of the 30 pianists competing in the final round, Broberg is one of only four Americans who received an invitation.

“Just to be invited to the Van Cliburn is a dream come true for every budding pianist,” said Weems, herself a former competitor.

“It’s so humbling, to say the least,” added Broberg. “It’s the musical highlight of my life so far.”

The 2017 Van Cliburn competition will take place from May 25 – June 10, 2017 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information about this year’s competition and competitors, please visit