Ronald Sachs International Music
Competition Artistic Director

Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi – Competition Artistic Director

Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi was born in Croatia where she began her violin studies in 1984. At the age of eleven she joined the Zadar Chamber Orchestra as its youngest member. Her college level studies began in 1993 at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia, studying violin performance with Professor Eugenia Tchougaeva. In 1998 she graduated from the Academy and joined the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra that same year. In the 1990s Dr. Žeželj-Gualdi concertized throughout Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, performing in Serbia, Austria, Croatia, Italy, and Montenegro.

Dr. Žeželj-Gualdi moved to the United States in 1999 to pursue graduate studies in music. In 2001 she graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a Master’s degree in music. In 2006 she graduated from the University of Georgia earning a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Since moving to the U.S., Dr. Žeželj-Gualdi has performed throughout the country, including two performances in Carnegie Hall, as well as on Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage. She has proven herself an amazingly adaptable musician, performing as a soloist (both orchestral and recital), chamber musician, and orchestral musician (as violinist and violist). Her musical career is noted for collaborations with remarkable musicians, including Evgeny Rivkin, and contemporary composers Augusta Reed Thomas and James MacMillan.

In January 2008 she became a founding member of the Balkan Quartet, a string quartet which focus is to involve and inspire composers to create new music that would use an indigenous Balkan language, reviving the rich Balkan folk heritage on a high artistic level.

Prior to her current position as a Violin and Viola Instructor and an Artistic Director of the Community Music Academy at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Dr. Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi served on the faculty of Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta, GA.


Elizabeth Lopartis – Competition Accompanist

Elizabeth Loparits has performed solo and collaborative recitals in Hungary, Costa Rica and the United States. She has made guest appearances at Indiana University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of Miami, Chicago College of Performing Arts, the North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, Focus on Piano Literature, UNCW Presents, with the Wilmington Symphony and on the UNCW Piano Masterworks Series. She performed the world premiere of Meira Warshauer’s Ocean Calling III (2014), the North Carolina premiere of Ocean Calling I-II (2013), and the world premiere of Stacy Garrop’s Tantrum (2002).

Loparits served for two summers as Young Artist coach/accompanists at the prestigious Opera North Company in New Hampshire, and since 2014 has been the coach/accompanist for Opera Wilmington.

Elizabeth began her musical studies as a teenager. In just two years she was admitted to the Conservatory for Arts, then the Pécs Institute of Hungary’s Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Her graduate studies continued at Illinois State University (Master of Music) and the University of North Carolina Greensboro (Doctor of Musical Arts) under the guidance of Gellert Modos, George Kiorpes and Andrew Harley. In open masterclasses she worked with Tamás Vásáry, Malcolm Bilson, Jenő Jandó, Ann Schein, and László Baranyay among others. Top prizes include the National Bartók Piano Competition in Hungary (1995), the Kodaly-Bartok Chamber Music Competition (1996), and the North Carolina Symphony/UNCG concerto competition (2000).

Currently Elizabeth works as staff accompanist and faculty for the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.


Paolo Gualdi – Competition Accompanist

Italian pianist Paolo André Gualdi has performed recitals in Italy, United Kingdom, France, China, Brazil, Uruguay, and the United States for music organizations such as Accademia Ori and Accademia Amadeus (Italy); Cadogan Hall (UK); Musée Würth (France); University of Shanghai (China); Universidade Federal do Rio Grande so Sul (Brazil); Fundación Pablo Atchugarry and SODRE (Uruguay); International Piano Series of Charleston, American Liszt Society, Piatigorsky Foundation, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (U.S.A.).  He has also appeared with many orchestras including the Georgia Philharmonic, Wilmington Symphony, Atlanta Philharmonic, Florence Symphony, DeKalb Symphony, and the Universidade de Caxias do Sul Symphony Orchestra.  He has recorded for Mark Records and IFO Classics, and his performances have been broadcasted by radios such as BBC, NPR, Clásica 650 and Radio Vaticana.

Gualdi began studying piano with his father at the age of five, and continued at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy, with Carmela Pistillo.  He earned his Piano Diploma with highest honours at the Conservatory Arrigo Boito in Parma.  While in the U.S., he earned a Master Degree at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Georgia.  Gualdi worked extensively with Carlo Maria Dominici, Roberto Cappello, Enrique Graf, and Evgeny Rivkin and took part in master classes with György Sandor, Earl Wild, Sergio Perticaroli and Menahem Pressler among others.

He has won the top prize in numerous piano competitions, including the European Competition of Ostuni, the Altruda National Competition of Vasto and the Françoise Grimaldi National Competition of San Polo.  Winning the “De Martino Award” at the Ibla International Piano Competition enabled him to study at Elon University with Victoria Fischer.  During this period he won the First Prize in the 15th Bartók-Kabalevsky International Competition.

Gualdi regularly gives master classes and lectures nationally and internationally at universities, conservatories and other music institutes, including the New World School of the Arts and College of Charleston (U.S.A.); the federal universities of Porto Alegre, Santa Maria and Pelotas (Brazil); Cittadella della Musica (Italy), and others.  He has served on the faculties of Elon University, Emmanuel College and Oxford College of Emory University.  He is the founder and artistic director of the South Carolina Chamber Music Festival and is currently Associate Professor of Music at Francis Marion University and on the music faculty at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.