For the past 14 years, pianist Sergei Babayan has attracted young players from around the world to study with him at the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy. It’s a little like camp: Kids come from all over to work and play for two weeks, but instead of swimming and roasting marshmallows, they retreat to air-conditioned rooms equipped with Steinways. And instead of counselors leading singalongs with dubious rhyme schemes, there’s a world-class pianist helping the next generation hone their chops. Babayan was the first Soviet Union pianist to compete without government sponsorship after Communism fell. Free of government constraints, he immediately began to snag top prizes in international competitions, including Cleveland’s Casadesus International Piano Competition (predecessor to the Cleveland International Piano Competition) in 1990. He joined the Cleveland Institute of Music’s faculty two years later. “I believe that artists must live and work at a fever pitch in the incessant pursuit of ideal beauty and the highest degree of artistry,” he says. “My hope is to inspire students to focus intensely on a single facet of the music — for hours if necessary.” The fruits of that labor are on display in a final marathon recital by campers, er, students, at 6 p.m. at CIM’s Mixon Hall (11021 East Blvd., 216.791.5000). It’s free. — Michael Gill
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