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Collaborative Piano

9 fellow openings per summer

Ready for a life-changing summer?

Experience an in-depth exploration of the vast instrumental repertoire, focusing on concepts of successful partnering, technical and pianistic concerns, building repertoire, and keys to professional development. Curriculum covers a wide range of literature, including sonatas, orchestral reductions, and character pieces. Collaborative Pianists enjoy many training and performance opportunities, including the Duo Competition. Be immersed doing what you love in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, surrounded by an enthusiastic and caring community committed to your success.

The Music Academy is an all-Steinway Institution

Training & Performance Opportunities

  • Weekly private lessons
  • Weekly Studio Classes
  • Collaborative Piano Public Masterclasses
  • Frequent performance in Instrumental Public Masterclasses
  • Duo Competition awarding a cash prize – read more below
  • Regular collaboration with instrumental fellows, including partnering in instrumental lessons
  • Coachings with Collaborative Piano and Instrumental Program world-class teaching artists
  • Orchestral keyboard opportunities

Duo Competition

You have a one-in-nine chance of winning this competition! Each collaborative piano fellow is paired with multiple instrumental partners. 

Prize package for the winning duo includes:

  • $5,000 cash award (for each winner)
  • Digital assets for career promotion

And So Much More...

Wellness Program

Resources include exercise, yoga, counseling, and performance medicine

Community Engagement

Each fellow is matched with community members for social events and more

Innovation Institute

Offering seminars & entrepreneurial competitions

Collaborative Piano Teaching Artists


Jonathan Feldman

director, collaborative piano

Festival weeks 1-8

Recognized by colleagues and critics worldwide as a leading chamber musician and collaborative pianist, Jonathan Feldman has performed on four continents with some of the world’s greatest instrumentalists, among them the legendary Nathan Milstein, Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, James Galway, Sarah Chang, and Joshua Bell. He performed regularly with the New York Philharmonic as a keyboard player within the orchestra and as a chamber musician appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic Chamber Ensembles and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City. He was a featured performer in a Live From Lincoln Center with Gil Shaham, which was broadcast throughout the United States on PBS.

A graduate of The Juilliard School, Mr. Feldman joined the Juilliard faculty in 1989 and was chairman of the school’s collaborative piano department from 1991-2015. He joined the faculty of New England Conservatory in 2010. He has given masterclasses throughout the United States and the Far East, and has lectured at international festivals and competitions. He is the Director of Collaborative Piano at the Music Academy of the West, a post he has held since 2005. He has appeared in other summer festivals, such as Tanglewood, Bridgehampton, Music from Angel Fire, Bravo Festival in Vail, Colorado, Hidden Valley Music Seminars, and the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.

Mr. Feldman's most recent recordings, with his wife, New York Philharmonic principal bassoonist Judith LeClair, and principal flutist Robert Langevin, are available on Avie Records. He has also recorded for Angel/EMI, Columbia Masterworks, DGG, RCA Red Seal, Naxos, Nonesuch, Summit, and Cala Records. He can be heard on soundtracks for many movies, including Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep and The Man Who Wasn't There by the Coen Brothers.

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Natasha Kislenko

collaborative piano

Festival weeks 1-8

Natasha Kislenko has performed extensively as a soloist and a collaborative pianist across Russia, Europe, Asia and the United States. She has appeared in recital and chamber music performances with numerous distinguished soloists, including Torleif Tedeen, James Buswell, Zvi Zeitlin, Theodore Kuchar, Tadeu Coelho, and Leone Buyse.

As a soloist, Ms. Kislenko has received top prizes in international piano competitions in Germany, Portugal, France, the Slovak Republic, and the United States. She made her solo recital debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1996, and most recently has appeared with Orquesta del Congreso Nacional in Paraguay, the Varna Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria, the Eskisehir Municipal symphony orchestra in Turkey, and the Santa Barbara Symphony.

Ms. Kislenko holds graduate degrees in piano from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) and the Stony Brook University, NY, where she completed her doctorate with Gilbert Kalish in 2004.

In 2007 Ms. Kislenko moved to Santa Barbara to assume a teaching position at UC Santa Barbara. Previously, she served on the faculties of California State University Fresno and Meadowmount School of Music (New York).

An alumna of the Music Academy (2001), Ms. Kislenko has been a member of the faculty since 2004.

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Margaret McDonald

collaborative piano

2000, 2001, 2002
Festival weeks 1-8

Pianist Margaret McDonald, a native of Minnesota, is an Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano at the University of Colorado Boulder.  She joined the College of Music keyboard faculty in the fall of 2004. She helped to develop the College’s graduate degree program in Collaborative Piano and the undergraduate collaborative curriculum. Praised for her poetic style and versatility, Dr. McDonald enjoys a very active performing career and has partnered many distinguished artists including the Takács Quartet, Kathleen Winkler, Zuill Bailey, Paula Robison, Carol Wincenc, Ben Kamins, David Shifrin, David Jolley, Ian Bousfield, Joseph Alessi, Steven Mead, and Velvet Brown.  She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Dr. McDonald received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of California – Santa Barbara.  Her principal teachers include Lydia Artymiw and Anne Epperson.  She received fellowships to study at both the Music Academy of the West and the Tanglewood Music Center where she worked closely with Dawn Upshaw, Robert Spano, and Osvaldo Golijov.

Dr. McDonald is active throughout the country giving master classes at institutions including The Juilliard School, Indiana University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Arizona State University, University of California - Santa Barbara, and Louisiana State University.  She has released recordings with Velvet Brown, tuba, Aaron Tindall, tuba, and Erika Eckert, viola for Potenza Records and Meridian Records.

Dr. McDonald has been a staff accompanist at the Meadowmount School for Strings in New York and an official accompanist at the Music Teachers National Association competition and the National Flute Association annual convention. McDonald is an alumna of the Music Academy of the West and has been a member of the Music Academy faculty since 2005.

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Collaborative Piano Application & Audition Information

January 15, 2024: now closed

  • Collaborative Piano applicants may choose between a Live Audition or Virtual Audition
  • Visit the Application Link for detailed audition repertoire requirements by studio
  • New York City: 
    Thursday, February 1, 2024
    Friday, February 2, 2024

  • Santa Barbara:
    Sunday, February 4, 2024



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