Hats Off to Team RPPF 2022!

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Festival

Hats Off to Team RPPF 2022! —  by Rebecca Penneys

As we celebrate RPPF’s recent milestone – 10 years! – this post salutes our devoted, tireless, and highly creative staff. We are hoping to add another member to our summer team in Tampa for 2023. If you are an RPPF Alum, 25 years or older, and interested in experiencing the program from a totally new perspective, let us know!

So, how did we get to this point? Let me back up and say that RPPF was founded on a fluke, a twist of fate. My life took a sudden turn. After 34 years I was no longer piano chair at a popular summer institution. But a month later I had an epiphany: why not start my own festival, one that every pianist, teacher, student, and piano-lover, would want to attend? Before long, the magic of RPPF spread far and wide.

My personal journey, now enhanced by the companion mission of RPPF, is focused on making a better life on earth for us all through music. And over time, I’ve found others who share that vision. My Associate Director, Tabitha Columbare, has been with RPPF since day one and she worked on-site for the first five years. During the last few seasons, her two charming little ones have required her to limit time spent in Tampa. Nevertheless, via technology, she brings immense sunshine to RPPF and remains staff leader. A little known fact is that our year-round staff has consisted of just the two of us for these past ten years! This month, we are thrilled to turn our duo into a trio with E-Na Song, who was a student at RPPF for the first two seasons and has assisted during the summers since 2017. She is not only a beautiful and accomplished pianist, but also a wizard of Mac and all things Google!

The first thing that pops into my picture frame, thinking about our summer staff, is that this team is chock full of fine pianists. Some are finishing graduate study; others are building careers. Each one is highly skilled with a very personal voice at the piano, and it is my pleasure to feature them in performance each year. I applaud their various abilities and their investment of time and energy to make RPPF a success. In today’s complex world the tried-and-true traditional career paths of the 20th century are no longer readily available. These young professionals recognize that truth and are ready to adapt. I am thrilled to have them at RPPF. Here are the names and websites of our 2022 on-site staff including me (pictured above, left to right). Enjoy getting to know them!

Rie Tanaka, Yoga Instructor & Student Services
Jingze Sarah Gao, Student Services Intern
Esther Jee-Hae Ahn, Administration & Student Services
Rebecca Penneys, Founder/Director
E-Na Song, Assistant Director
Klyde Francis Ledamo, Transportation & Faculty Liaison


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The Steinway pianos at USF are made possible by the kind assistance of the Music Gallery, Clearwater, Florida. THANK YOU!