Life + Arts

Moores hosts International Piano Festival

The Moores School of Music’s 26th Annual International Piano Festival, which began on Friday and will run through Sunday, gives students a chance to play and have feedback from a master piano player.

The masters for this year’s festival were UH pianist and Distinguished Professor of piano Abbey Simon and pianists Stephen Kovacevich and Pascal Rog’eacute;. Each pianist listened to several students ranging from middle school to college-age performers.

‘We started this festival to get the outside public and pre-college age students interested in what we have here (at UH),’ Simon said.

Simon launched the first festival in 1984 and has had all the recitals in Dudley Recital Hall since.

‘That first year, I was afraid no one would come,’ Simon said. ‘But when that first day came, we were packed. Even the master classes were full.’

UH was the first university to give a piano festival in the Gulf Coast region. Since then, there have been many other schools holding conferences for up-and-coming piano players, but that doesn’t take away from the success UH has with the festival.

‘It keeps getting better and better. This year, especially, is a banner year,’ Simon said.
The International Piano Festival began with a class on piano theory. Indiana University professor Robert Hatten gave a lecture about the theory of gestures, topics and tropes to a class of several dozen people.

‘The piano is an artificial instrument,’ Hatten said. ‘Once the note is played, that is it. The instrument cannot get louder like a string, brass or wind instrument can.’

Simon was featured in the first recital Friday, playing classical piano to several hundred people. He received an ovation after performing works from J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin.

‘I went through a whole spectrum of piano,’ Simon said. ‘There are some people who like to specialize in a certain era, but I prefer the whole performing repertoire.’

On the following nights, Kovacevich played classical piano and Rog’eacute; played Sunday to a crowd of several hundred. Rog’eacute; received three encores and four standing ovations. The audience enjoyed his interpretations of Gabriel Faur’eacute;, Francis Poulenc and Claude Debussy.’

This is an opportunity for students to perform in front of a master and for the public to become familiar with other pianists, Simon said.

‘I want to bring in pianists who are not that well known in the United States,’ Simon said.

Simon held his master class Saturday and listened to performers ranging from ages 10 to 23.

‘The most important thing for a young pianist is to learn how to read the printed page; the most important thing for the more mature pianist is to become aware of the sound and feel of the piano,’ Simon said.

Simon believes that the International Piano Festival puts UH on the map and shows that its talent can stay on par with larger schools.

‘We might not have the finances, but artistically we are up there with Juilliard,’ Simon said.

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