Tag Archive | "classical music"

Salon Series Returns to the Parrish Art Museum

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Pianist Assaff Weisman will perform at the Parrish Art Museum Friday.

Pianist Assaff Weisman will perform at the Parrish Art Museum Friday.

By Tessa Raebeck

Back by popular demand, Salon Series, a series of concerts by award winning and internationally acclaimed young Classical pianists, will return to the Parrish Art Museum Friday.

At the first show in the four-concert program, on consecutive Fridays this month, Assaff Weisman, who had his solo debut at age 12, will perform.  A graduate of the Juilliard School, Mr. Weisman was reviewed by the Palm Beach Post as having a “purity of approach” and a style that “is clean and free of posturing, the kind of pianism that allows the listener to admire the architecture of the works under consideration while also appreciating the poetry of the flourishes.”

On Friday at 6 p.m., Mr. Weisman will perform classics such as Beethoven’s “Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2,” as well as pieces from modern composers, like the French Olivier Messiaen.

The upcoming concerts in the series are Russian pianist Daria Rabotkina on April 11, winner of the 2008 Pro Musicis International Award, Tanya Gabrielian on April 18, and Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Ju on April 25.

Tickets for all concerts, which begin at 6 p.m., are $20 for the general public and $10 for Parrish members. For more information, visit parrishart.org or call 283-2118 ext. 142.

Student Musicians in Classical Concert for Katy’s Courage

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Christopher Ritter, Benjamin Hoertnagl-Pereira, Georgia Bennett and Kivlan King, who will perform as Classical Students for Katy's Courage Sunday. Christopher Golden photo.

Christopher Ritter, Benjamin Hoertnagl-Pereira, Georgia Bennett and Kivlan King, who will perform as Classical Students for Katy’s Courage Sunday. Christopher Golden photo.

By Tessa Raebeck

They have performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Pierson High School auditorium, but on Sunday 10 classical musicians will join together with a sole purpose: to honor Katy Stewart.

At the sixth annual Classical Students for Katy’s Courage Benefit Concert at Bay Street Theatre, student musicians from across the East End will perform in memory of Katy, a beloved Pierson student who passed away in December 2010 from a rare form of liver cancer. At just 12 years young, as her parents Brigid Collins Stewart and Jim Stewart say, Katy had already touched the Sag Harbor community with her bright personality, inherent kindness and contagious positive energy.

The 10 students, who come from East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor and range in age from 13 to 19, will perform 12 classic pieces by composers such as Handel, Mozart and Chopin. Local professional pianists Ellen Johansen of East Hampton and Alvin Novak of Water Mill, as well as 21-year-old Manhattan School of Music student Ge Gao, will accompany the students.

The classical concert is a fitting celebration of the life of Katy, who had a true love for music. Katy played the piano and treasured her violin, taking lessons with David Fox every Saturday morning. Mr. Fox, also the strings teacher at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, will introduce the students on Sunday.

All proceeds from the 100-minute concert will benefit the Katy’s Courage Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research and Katy’s Kids @ CMEE, which will open in the fall to provide counseling and play therapy opportunities for grieving children and their families.

“Through performing for Katy’s Courage, I hope that I am able to honor Katy’s memory, as she was able to touch so many hearts herself, and use my gift to support this cause,” said Matthew Maimone, 19.

A Sag Harbor resident, Mr. Maimone started playing the piano at age 6 and was accepted to the Julliard Pre-College at age 10, receiving an education that helped him to earn acceptance to the Juilliard School College Division last year.

“What I enjoy most about classical music is being able to give whatever story, whatever feeling, whatever aura a composer intended in his composition to an audience,” said Mr. Maimone, who will close the evening with a Chopin composition.

Opening the event will be Pierson graduate Christopher Beroes-Haigis, 19, on the cello and Benjamin Hoertnagl-Pereira, 17, of Southampton High School, on the violin.

“Playing music and writing music, in general, is an art form that people, if they want, could use to express themselves or to send out a message, to form bonds with others, or to give a gift for others to enjoy, which can help them in many ways,” said Mr. Beroes-Haigis, who is now studying at Bard College.

“I feel that music is a beautiful way to express oneself, just like an artist expresses oneself by painting,” agreed Leo Panish, 16, a sophomore at East Hampton High School. Mr. Panish began playing the violin when he was 2 ½, asking his parents if he could learn after watching his brother Maxfield, who will perform on the piano at Sunday’s concert, play.

“What I love about classical music,” he said, “is that I can listen to a piece again and again and each time I get something new from it. There are so many complexities in the music that it requires listening to a piece many times to even begin to understand it.”

Pianist and Pierson sophomore Christopher Ritter, 15, who began studying with Ms. Johansen when he was 6, will play “Toccata in E flat minor” by Aram Khachaturian. His classmate at Pierson, Emmanuelle Bernard, will perform a Mozart composition on the piano, followed by a cello piece by Kivlan King, a student at Southampton High School.

Ross School eighth grader Tristan Griffin began playing piano at 4 ½ and had his first solo concert at Steinway Hall when he was 7. The 13-year-old will perform two piano compositions Sunday.

Vocalist Georgia Bennett, 16, will sing “Lascia Ch’io Pianga,” a sad but beautiful opera piece in Italian.

“It’s a good way to express myself and it is a release from everyday life,” she said of music, adding, “It’s such an honor to be singing to benefit Katy’s Courage.”

“The idea of the benefit concert makes it less about the criticism and the close scrutinizing found in other concerts, and more about giving back to the community,” said Mr. Beroes-Haigis.

“Music is a gift that can change a person’s life,” said Mr. Maimone. “Hopefully, through my music, I can encourage people to give to help support pediatric cancer research. This would make Katy proud.”

The sixth annual Classical Students Benefit Concert for Katy’s Courage will be held Sunday, March 23, at 4 p.m. at Bay Street Theatre. A suggested donation of $15 has been suggested. For more information, call 725-9500 or visit katyscourage.org.

A Home for the Classics

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By Marianna Levine

Hidden away on a quiet cul-de-sac in Sag Harbor is the summer home of Dr. Robert Maimone, executive director of the Vladimir Nielson Piano Festival and his musical family. They have turned their light and airy summer home into a nurturing environment for gifted young pianists from around the globe, most of who attend the Juilliard pre-college program with the Maimone’s 14-year-old son Matthew. This year will mark the second annual Vladimir Neilson Piano Festival concert series with 5 p.m. concerts starting Saturday, August 2 and ending with an August 23 gala performance and clambake.

“It’s a special joy to hear young musicians perform. They’re so fresh and vibrant, and you wonder at how extremely talented they are,” Dr Robert Maimone enthuses.

The Festival’s artistic director, Victoria Mushkatkol agrees, stating, “I love teaching pupils this age. They’re playing for the love of the music. They’re idealists. The rest will come later.”

And it is precisely the pressure of the notoriety and strenuous discipline that comes with being a young musician that led the Maimone family and Ms. Mushkatkol to arrange a welcoming and relaxing educational experience for these international pianists right here in Sag Harbor.

The whole Maimone family opened up their home in Noyac to about a dozen pianists aged 11-24 last August, after extensive renovations to their home, which included the refocusing of the house’s great room into an indoor/outdoor performance space large enough to incorporate a concert-sized Steinway and seating for about 150 people. They also re-fashioned their basement into eight soundproof practice rooms with smaller Steinways, all donated by the festival’s sponsor, Steinway & Sons. The Maimones decided to locate the festival in Sag Harbor because they had always dreamed of one day residing here. Dr. Maimone relates how “my wife, Ally, and I fell in love with this area early into our relationship, and at the time I promised her that some day we would buy a house here.”

A few years ago, as they were driving their son Matthew to and from the city for piano lessons, they were inspired to bring the music and Matthew’s teacher back to Sag Harbor. Matthew’s teacher, Ms. Mushkatkol, an international concert pianist since age 10, further explains how the Festival was created: “the Maimones had the idea that I should come out to teach and that perhaps we could expand my teaching to include more pupils in the summer, and they were incredible in making it all happen so fast.”

It was during Matthew’s studies at Julliard that the Maimones’ became aware of the many families who struggle to foster their children’s amazing abilities.

“When we heard what some of the students and their families from other countries sacrificed to develop their talent, we realized how very blessed we were to be born in this country. Sometimes an entire village will collect money to send a child to study in America, and we realized we wanted to share our resources and help in whatever way we could,” said Ally Maimone, who cooks and manages the household during the Festival. “It’s our honor to take care of these students, and let them focus on their music.”

And the Maimones’ have indeed shared their resources through turning what was initially just a practical idea for their son into a non-profit foundation for other young musicians.

Victoria Mushkatkol explains that “it has become almost a requirement to succeed very early on as a classical musician, and therefore there is a lot of pressure on young performers. The initial idea behind having these students come out to Sag Harbor was to have a relaxed environment where the students could collaborate and discuss music and life with their peers. Lessons are not limited by the traditional formal structures – there is a lot of flexibility in their schedule and we’re open to all ideas. We can go with what the individual or the group needs.”

And this idea of integrating life with one’s art was at the core of the festival’s namesake, Vladimir Nielson’s teaching approach. Nielson, who was Mushkatkol’s teacher and mentor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, is considered to be one of the great music teachers of the 20th century. He has exerted a tremendous influence on current composers and conductors, as well as classical pianists, and for this reason Mushkatkol said, “I took on a great responsibility in naming the festival after him,” but she also explained that the Maimones wanted her to teach in the spirit of his instruction, meaning that character and integrity are as important as musical technique in becoming a performer, and that in this day and age of performing super stars, young musicians must continue to understand that the “personality of the performer is secondary to the composer, and that each composer has his own language that the pianist must come to understand.” Mushkatkol hopes that by being out in a serene and beautiful setting the students will find the time to develop into artists of strong character as well as excellent musicians.

Dr. Maimone has great dreams for the future of the festival, including possibly creating a permanent conservatory in Sag Harbor. However, one of his primary concerns is to reach out to the community, and perhaps “heal with music.” The concerts are part of this outreach, and the Maimones are making their home handicap accessible so that all children and adults feel welcome to attend the young pianists’ concerts. Mushkatkol muses, “Vladimir Nielson’s recitals were attended by people from all over the world, and they were very special events – magical.” The Maimones and Mushkatkol are trying to create and share that same type of musical magic right here in Sag Harbor.

For more information about the Vladimir Nielson Piano Festival, go to www.nielsonfest.com