International festival still going strong after 30 years
A grand wave of jubilation will take over the Moores School of Music this weekend as the International Piano Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary.
American classical pianist Abbey Simon started the festival in 1984. Simon has been a faculty member at UH since 1977 and is a Cullen distinguished professor.
“When I first started this, I don’t think there was anything like it in the southwest,” Simon said.
Simon started playing the piano at three years old and was accepted as a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia when he was eight years old.
Since then, he has played at renowned venues, such as Carnegie Hall, and has toured all over Europe.
Simon has also received countless awards such as the Federation of Music Clubs Award, the National Orchestral Association Award and the Ford Foundation Award.
“When he first came to UH, his goal was to build up the piano program and bring international notoriety,” said Alan Austin, International Piano Festival director.
“His idea was to create a weekend festival where he would invite two of his internationally-renowned colleagues to come to the festival and each person would play a recital,” Austin said.
The festival will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a recital from Simon.
On Saturday, award-winning Inon Barnatan will perform “Darkness Visible,” which was named one of the best CDs of 2012 by The New York Times.
The festival will conclude Sunday after pianist Larissa Dedova will take to the stage. Dedova’s career spans 30 years. She has played at venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Teatro Ghione and the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory.
Master classes are also presented with each guest artist. The artists invited to the festival are not only known for their piano expertise, but also for teaching and working with students.
Although not as popular as it once used to be, Austin and Simon stress the importance of exposing oneself to classical music and attending recitals.
“Classical music can help anyone become a better person and if someone disagrees with that, they need to come and see me,” Simon said.