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The funny thing about snobbery is how it's often in the eye of the beholder.
Giselle Brodsky ain't no snob, despite bearing the title of artistic director for the Miami International Piano Festival. The goal of the festival, she informs me in her rich Bolivian accent, is to lure new ears into appreciating classical. "We want to capture a wide, wide audience, younger people, people who don't even know classical. People in general are convinced that only certain types of listeners can enjoy classical, and that's just not true."
What draws in new fans is a natural affection not just for the instrument itself, but for the hand ballet of the performers as their fingers work the keys. In that, it's no different from finding oneself deeply captivated by anything from opera to industrial noise, but as with any art form it's up to the individual to seek out what their soul is missing.
This will be the tenth edition of the festival, the nuts and bolts of which are handled out of Brodsky's home in Aventura. For 2007 the festival's opening and ending dates focus on the heavy, often mournful strains of Rachmaninoff. "I have a very soft spot for him," Brodsky explains.
The other nights of the festival will feature recitals of the works of such masters as Brahms, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven. As always the pieces will be interpreted by exciting piano talents from around the world, all of whom have been hand-picked to perform by the festival's board members. "We look for artists who are real communicators, not just academics," Brodsky says.
Among the featured performers for the Rachmaninoff segments is Denis Burstein, a Russian prodigy who was admitted to Moscow's Gnessin School for gifted children at age fifteen. Also appearing will be Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski, a Beethoven/Bach disciple whose fascination with the piano began at age six. The U.S. will be represented in part by Nicholas Angelich, a first runnerup at the R. Casadesus International Competition (1989) and the Umberto Micheli Competition (1997). Angelich gave his first concert at the ripe old age of seven, performing Mozart's Concerto in C Major with a full chamber orchestra.
In addition to the performances, the festival features lectures and panel discussions by music professionals. Master classes for promising keyboard artists of the future are also offered.