New Ross Piano Festival
September 26th - 29th, 2013
We are especially honoured this year because the President, Michael D Higgins, has become our patron.
The eighth New Ross Piano Festival is now passed. The festival takes place in this friendly small town in South East Ireland, where some of the world’s famous pianists have now played to great acclaim. It is easily accessible by plane into Waterford, Dublin or Cork, and by ship into Rosslare, and attracts an enthusiastic audience of music-lovers.
Russia is one of the iconic sources of piano music and pianists, from Tchaikovsky and The Five to Shostakovitch and Alfred Schnittke, from Rachmaninov, Gilels and Richter to Kissin, Demidenko and Volodos, to name but a few. So it was with great anticipation that we engaged three Russian pianists this year. They came with varying backgrounds. They played music by some favourite composers, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Debussy, Gershwin, Shostakovitch and Brahms amongst others.
Lilya Zilberstein came to international attention in 1987 when she won the Busoni Competition in Bozen. She has performed in practically all European countries as well as in Mexico, Japan, Korea and Brazil. She also regularly plays duos with Martha Argerich and Maxim Vengerov.
28 year old Denis Kozhukhin was launched onto the international scene by winning First Prize in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, after winning the 1st Prize at the Vendome Prize in Lisbon in 2009, and 3rd Prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, and now performs in the prestigious concert halls of Europe and America.
In 2012 Nikolay Khozyainov, aged 19, won the Dublin International Piano Competition, and in the process now gets an opportunity to debut recitals at the Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York and Dublin's own National Concert Hall. He is from Blagoveschensk in the far eastern region of Russia. He wowed the audience at his mid-day recital.
As is usual at the Piano Festival, we engage a chamber group to play one item at each main concert, partnering each of the main pianists in turn. This year we featured the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet. The Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts joined them for one special performance of the Chausson Concert.
Our Artistic Director, Finghin Collins, was also part of the main concerts. Widely regarded as one of Ireland's finest classical musicians, Finghin Collins has just ended his three-year cycle of the complete Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra.
Finally, in honour of the special year in New Ross, which is celebrating the anniversary of President JF Kennedy's visit to the town of his ancestors 50 years ago, we thoroughly enjoyed an all-American solo programme played by the young American pianist Alexander Bernstein.
There will be the usual outreach sessions with students of all ages, and pianos put in public spaces for the use of passers-by - all of which adds to the friendly, informal side of what is a festival of the highest quality.
Full details of the artists and programmes are in the downloadable brochure. You can also look up something more about the artists at their website addresses below.
Reviews of past festivals are available in our Review Section
Jeremy Hill, writing about the festival, opined that "this piano festival now ranks in quality and imaginative organisation and programming with any other event of its like around the world. Its uniquely personal atmosphere is engendered by the superb location and acoustic quality of St. Mary’s Church. A dedicated volunteer and amateur committee deserves the sweetest smelling bouquet of bright and colourful flowers for they present an unequalled opportunity for music lovers to engage with the genius of world class piano playing."
Reviews were also written in the UK music magazines Gramophone, International Piano and Classical Music.
Read them all in our Reviews Section, including BBC Music Magazine, where Daniel Jaffe gives a very accurate account of the feel of the festival and the area.