The 2016 Festival is over. It was held, as always, on the last complete weekend in September. Next year’s dates are also rather earlier than usual so mark the date now! September 21st to 24th, 2017.
This festival lived up to all previous high standards, and the audiences went away with some wonderful memories. Highlights? Impossible to judge because there were so many, but Nicholas Angelich and the Quatuor Ebene performing the Franck Piano Quintet, Piers Lane’s Chopin pieces, Finghin Collins’ Four Impromptus of Schubert, Jonathan Morris playing the world premiere of one of the Ros Tapestry Suite new commissions from memory, and Nathalia Milstein’s amazing Prokofiev. And who can forget Jonathan and Nathalia’s atmospheric late night programme of French music for four hands – Faure, Ravel and Bizet? So many magical moments…….
“…a little gem…”, “…innovative planning…”, “…atmospheric charm…”, “attractive acoustic…” Some of the reviewers’ comments about the festival
And then there are the pianists – Cristina Ortiz, Freddy Kempf, Melvyn Tan, Norika Ogawa, Lisa de la Salle, Sunwook Kim, Joseph Moog, Lilya Zilberstein, Kathryn Stott, and Cedric Pescia are amongst the 49 international stars audiences have had the pleasure of listening to over the past eleven years.
The 11th piano festival featured leading international pianists Nicholas Angelich and Piers Lane who joined Artistic Director Finghin Collins for the three main concerts. There were piano quintets with the outstanding Ebène Quartet from France for performances of glorious music by César Franck, Robert Schumann and Gabriel Fauré. The coffee concerts were given by two distinguished younger pianists: the French Nathalia Milstein, the first female winner of the Dublin International Piano Competition (2015) and New Ross rising star Jonathan Morris. Natalia and Jonathan paired up for a delightful late-night programme of French piano duet music.
Throughout the weekend the world premieres of the final five pieces in the Ros Tapestry Suite took place, bringing to a close the ambitious three-year project which has seen the commissioning of fifteen Irish composers to respond to the 15 panels of the amazing Ros Tapestry in music. The composers this year were Raymond Deane, Philip Martin, Grainne Mulvey, Marian Ingoldsby and Garrett Sholdice. Finghin Collins fronted an interesting discussion about the challenges of composing music inspired by a picture with the latter three composers on Sunday morning. On Saturday morning he welcomed Richard Lomas, an historian from Northumbria who has written a booklet about the Normans who are connected with the New Ross area. The proceeds from the sale of these was generously given to the Piano Festival funds.
On Friday the renowned jazz pianist, Phil Ware, was in town with bass player Damien Evans, and gave short recitals in unusual venues, such as the Dunbrody Cafe and the Library. A similar pattern took place on Saturday with Patrick Molitor, who has been influential in preparing students for entry into the degrees in jazz piano that are now available in Ireland.
There were the usual outreach sessions with students of all levels, and the placing of “Play Me” pianos in unusual venues for the public to play whenever they feel like it.
This year lived up to the festival’s growing reputation as a unique niche weekend for lovers of the piano and its fantastic repertoire. It all happens in a small-town intimate atmosphere in a lovely part of Ireland – forty five minutes from the Rosslare Ferry Port, and two hours from Dublin Airport. And audience members were there from the UK, France and Switzerland, as well as all parts of Ireland.