New Ross Piano Festival Archive
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…
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 Damian 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.
Click to download the 2016 New Ross Piano Festival Programme
In 2006 the festival’s committee set out with a simple mission – to celebrate the virtuosity, versatility and variety of music and emotions that are associated with the piano and with pianists. It was an all Irish cast that year in a programme from the established repertoire but slowly, yet surely, the inspired festival committee introduced elements of more challenging and contemporary composition including the commissioning of a fascinating cycle of work (to be completed next year) relating to the panels of the historical Ros Tapestry by some of today’s active Irish composers. Mainstream composition now sits happily alongside the avant garde. Five more world premières were commissioned this year. The composers were Eric Sweeney, Linda Buckley, Deirdre Gribbin, Andrew Hamilton and Sam Perkin.
The South East Young Pianists’ concert on Thursday was, as in previous years, a valuable insight into the amount of precocious musical talent in the region. Young people also experienced piano music in the Library with Yvonne Collier and in Our Lady of Lourdes school with Daria van den Berken, whose enlightening talk and performance was filmed by RTE.
This year saw the return of the RTE Concert Orchestra so that we heard three piano concertos on the Friday night. Fittingly, it was Artistic Director Finghin Collins who was first to the platform this year in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #3. A relatively well known concerto, it puts it up to the pianist for instant comparison with his peers, yet he is one who can mix it with the best and the audience warmth for one if its own was reflected in a typically assured performance where he was both conductor and pianist. Cédric Tiberghien’s performed the well-loved Mendelssohn concerto and Alexei Grynyuk introduced many people to Scriabin’s wonderful score. Finghin Collins conducted the RTE Concert Orchestra throughout .
Olga Scheps, suffering a head cold, gave a memorable performance of the Romantic style of piano playing. Opening with a crystal clear Chopin nocturne, she included Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’ along with a Chopin Ballade. She played with great sensitivity and delicacy though, after a quickly taken first encore, she followed up with an explosive Prokofiev piece – there is nothing like Russian blood to deliver Russian music.
Cédric Tiberghien’s passionate playing of Berg’s Piano Sonata was an invitation to the audience to engage with this ‘new’ music, and by including it along with a Mozart sonata he was suggesting that if Mozart’s is music then so is Berg’s.
Those who stayed on for the late night concert enjoyed the Fidelio Trio in a beautiful rendering of Schoenberg’s ‘Verklärte Nacht’ which is the treasure piece in the tonal oeuvre.
Alexei Grynyuk gave a very moving performance of Schubert’s death bed Piano Sonata in A major followed by Stravinsky’s three movements from Pétrouchka with its hideously difficult score which only few can master. Aurally and visually Grynyuk’s performance was as breathtaking as it was thrilling.
Daria van den Bercken’s recital of Handel and Mozart whose music comes from the early and mid 18th century with its ordered and simpler structure was completely different. She gave a commanding performance, much enjoyed by the audience.
The weekend was brought to a close by the 21 gypsy tunes of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances in a 50 minute performance by Finghin Collins and Cédric Tiberghien, which brought a spontaneous sense of fun to the closing event.
The printed programme listed all the brilliant pianists and chamber groups who had delighted us in New Ross over the 10 years of the festival. We look forward to the next ten years!
New Ross Piano Festival once again wove its magic. A very appreciative audience was treated to a delicious variety of piano repertoire. A wonderful innovation this year was the commissioning of five new compositions by Irish composers inspired by panels of the Ros Tapestry. The international piano virtuosi were joined by the Cassiopeia Winds for several pieces.
For the large audience who came on Thursday to hear the young students from this South East this proved to be a stimulating and rewarding evening. Notable performances were given by 10 year old Emma Murphy, who started playing only in 2013, and gave a confident rendering of Diabelli’s Sonatina Op.151, and also Kevin Ye’s masterly Fantasie-Impromptu by Chopin. This strand of the festival grows every year, both in the ability of the students and in the size of the audience.
The opening concert with the guest pianists on Friday night also had a large and appreciative audience, who had travelled from all over Ireland, from the UK, Germany, and China as well as a loyal local following. It was noticeable this year that the mid-day concerts had become very popular with almost full houses for Joseph Moog and Beatrice Berrut’s solo recitals. Both of these performers gave wonderful programmes, beautifully played. Joseph Moog will be making his first appearance in London’s Wigmore Hall next month, but it was a New Ross privilege to have heard him first. Beatrice Berrut’s slight figure belied her tremendous power as she moved from the Busoni Bach transcriptions of the choral preludes to his very difficult but lovely Chaconne in D minor, and on again to the vivid depictions of Dante’s Hell and shimmering Heaven as composed by Liszt. She combined delicacy and strength and a great depth of feeling.
For three of the concerts we were treated to performances by Melvyn Tan, Lise de la Salle and Finghin Collins. It is difficult to describe the roller coaster of emotions that these three marvellous pianists evoked. From the incandescent and breath-taking performance of Finghin Collin’s Chopin Etudes on Friday, to Melvyn Tan’s beautifully sensitive Schubert on Saturday, to Lise de la Salle’s incredible playing of one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit on Sunday, their programmes were deeply satisfying.
The Cassiopeia Winds joined them for thoroughly enjoyable works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Mozart, Poulenc and Caplet, works which on the whole are not heard often, but were delightful.
The newly commissioned works by Gerald Barry, Gerry Murphy, Sebastian Adams, Elaine Agnew and John Kinseila were very different from each other in style, extremely interesting in interpretation, and were played in front of the actual tapestry depicted. This strand of the festival is an exciting addition, and will certainly spark increased interest and knowledge of the wonderful, beautifully embroidered Ros Tapestry, with its unique blend of art, craftsmanship and history.
When the audience emerged into the early evening autumn sunshine on Sunday the talk was of the pleasure, the joy and sheer delight that this Festival delivers annually.
Our emphasis this year was on Russian pianists. Lilya Zilberstein is well established and Denis Kozhukhin is younger but also on the world stage, and both of them took part in our three main shared concerts. Finghin Collins, our Artistic Director, also performed at those concerts, as did the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet. On Sunday they were joined by the Russian violinist, Ilya Gringolts,for a rousing performance of Chausson’s Concert.
One of the highlights this year was the Saturday solo recital at mid-day. Again it was a Russian. Nikolay Khozainov won the last Dublin International Piano Competition in 2012. He was only 19 at the time, the youngest winner ever. But on Saturday we all realized why. He was quite amazing, and the audience were bowled over.
On Sunday morning we heard the American pianist, Alexander Bernstein, play an all-American programme, including the well-known Rhapsody in Blue. We had chosen to do this concert as our contribution towards the special JFK50 celebrations in New Ross in 2013. Alexander also met music students on Friday morning and told them about some of the better known American composers such s Charles Ives and Gershwin, playing some of their music.
On Thursday morning pianist Yvonne Collier took three sessions in the Library with primary school children from Listerlin and New Ross. We also left a “Play Me” piano there for the weekend, rather disturbing the peace of the library. Pianos were also placed in Tesco, Supervalu, St Michael’s Theatre foyer and Brandon House Hotel for the public to play at their leisure.
We had visiting reviewers from France and Germany, who have both written reviews in music magazines on the continent , and this year we had our first Japanese visitor as well as visitors from France, Austria and the UK.
2012 will be remembered for several reasons. For the first time we had the RTE Concert Orchestra for an event which included three piano concertos with three different pianists, all conducted by our Artistic Director Finghin Collins. It was also the first time we had a piano trio, the highly respected Storioni Trio from the Netherlands. We welcomed pianists from all over the world. Young Melodie Zhao from Switzerland wowed the audiences, as did Martina Filjak, the Croatian pianist who travelled from America to be with us. Greek pianist Dimitri Papadimitriou gave an exciting Russian programme, and we had three very different Irish pianists – our own Artistic Director and international pianist Finghin Collins, Fergus Sheil who played his own arrangements of American standards, and Hugh Tinney who gave a fascinating late night exploration of John Cage and his influences, performing on both ‘normal’ and prepared piano.
2011 was the two-piano festival and was definitely our most extravagant festival thus far! We had three pairs of fabulous duettists. Noriko Ogawa with Kathryn Stott; Igor Roma with Enrico Pace; and Katya Apekisheva with Charles Owen. The range of two-piano repertoire was fascinating; from well-known works by Mozart and Rachmaninov to less-often performed works by Schumann (with two cellos) and Bartok (with two percussionists!)
We commissioned a new two-piano work from Stephen Gardner with funds from the Arts Council; this was premiered by Finghin Collins and Charles Owen. Young Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey gave an impressive solo recital. We also engaged some orchestral players to give three performances of the Carnival of the Animals, narrated by celebrated Irish actor Barry McGovern.
2010 was the Chopin year and we celebrated it by including both of his piano concertos arranged for string quartet and bass. We also had Chopin specialists, Abdel Rahman El Bacha from France and the amazing young Chinese girl, Sa Chen. El Bacha gave a masterful performance of Chopin’s complete Preludes as well as his second piano concerto. Schumann’s bicentenary was also marked with a performance of his piano quintet by Finghin Collins and the Renoir Quartet. Libor Novacek and Rebecca Capova gave the daytime solo recitals. Finghin Collins gave a memorable late night Schubert concert and Colm O’ Brien once again entertained downtown with ragtime and jazz.
The 2009 New Ross Piano Festival took place over the weekend of September 24th to 27th, celebrating the enormous diversity of the piano, with five prize-winning pianists from Ireland, Finland, Korea, Italy and the UK.
The 2008 New Ross Piano Festival featured Finghin Collins, Philip Martin, Cristina Ortiz, Nicolas Stavy, Peter Tuite, Muriel Cantoreggi, Marc Coppey and Emma Johnson. The programme lists Corinne Chapelle, but Corinne injured her arm the week before the Festival and Muriel Cantoreggi performed.
The 2007 New Ross Piano Festival featured Dearbhla Collins, Ovid Trio, Finghin Collins, Freddy Kempf, John O’Conor, Norah King, Martha Bredin, Jamie Rock, Niall Morris and Maria McGarry. Ruth McGinley was listed in the programme but due to illness she was replaced by Maria McGarry.