Ukrainian-Born Pianist Receives Support from the Foundation Trust

Liana Paniyeva, a classical pianist originally from Ukraine, recently connected with the Foundation Trust. Liana is a 2022 recipient of Foundation Trust Emergency Medical Support, a small gift intended to lessen the burden of unexpected medical procedures. Our interview for this article took place shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began; Liana's family, including her mother and sister, are still in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, so the news felt very raw, personal, and precarious. We thank her for candidly and graciously sharing her time and story with us.


Starting Young & Sticking With It

Liana always wanted to play piano. “I started at five years old,” she shared. “When my sister started playing, I was right there. I didn’t want to do anything else.” It wasn’t about pestering her older sister or following in her footsteps, though; playing piano was just something that seemed to call to Liana from a young age.


Luckily, her family recognized her talent, and enrolled her in a special music school, the Donetsk Music Academy. From there, she went on to earn her Professional Studies Diploma from the Manhattan School of Music, and she subsequently received her Artist Diploma from The Hartt School of the University of Hartford. Since graduating, she has been living in the Boston area.


“When we first spoke with Liana, her passion for sharing classical piano with others was abundantly clear. We are pleased to make this contribution to Liana so that she can continue to develop her artistry,” said Lauren Liecau, Manager of the Foundation Trust.


The Talent and Commitment to Perform around the World

Liana’s classical focus is on Romantic era composers, and her talent and drive have helped her to play around the world. She has won numerous international competitions and even had the opportunity to play Carnegie Hall. When asked what it was like to play such a renowned venue, Liana enthusiastically replied, “of course it was great!” Liana doesn’t mind whether she plays a large or small venue, however. “I love to play everywhere,” she says. “I hope to play all my life. Pianists are lucky as there is a huge repertoire to choose from.”


In describing her process and how long it takes to prepare a piece for performance, Liana remarked that “it depends on the piece. I can learn it quickly, but it really takes time to live with that piece. It gets better with time. And it’s not only about practicing, it involves reading about the composer and what they wrote right before or right after that piece to give context.”


Sharing her love of piano with the next generation

As she has grown as a pianist, she has also discovered a love of teaching. In addition to her recital schedule, Liana also finds time to give lectures and share her love of piano with the next generation of pianists through lessons. During the pandemic there were no recitals, so Liana used the extra time to expand her repertoire and give online piano lessons, which she now also offers in person. She also shared a pandemic project close to her heart, noting that “I also created an online competition for young kids from all over the world to send in videos of themselves performing.” Young pianists from around the world took part in the Young Stars International Piano Competition, with competitors hailing from Germany, Malaysia, Australia, Poland, Canada, Macedonia, Thailand, US, Taiwan, UK, Italy, India, Lithuania and Azerbaijan. Winners will be invited to perform at a recital in Massachusetts.


With everything life has thrown at Liana, piano has always been a constant in her life. From moving abroad to pursue her passion and career, to being separated from her family who still live in Ukraine, she has shown an admirable resilience of spirit.


“A main driver at the Foundation Trust is to support people in overcoming life adversity, whether that is through local community organizations working with marginalized populations, through the arts, or through education on complex trauma,” commented Foundation Trust Executive Director Dr. Joseph Spinazzola. “We are proud to support Liana, who perseveres in building her dream life and career in the United States.”


“This gift from the Foundation Trust will help me to develop my artistic career. Thank you for the opportunity,” she said.


Liana’s biggest advice? “Follow your passion…and practice!”


Videos of Liana Paniyeva performing can be seen here:


To learn more about Liana or to take lessons with her, visit:


If you would like to support the Foundation Trust Emergency Fund, donations can be made here.