Article and photos by Mary Ellen Graybill for Columbia news, views & reviews
At 7:30PM July 22, the Lancaster International Piano Festival dazzled the audience at the Ware Center with an amazing concert of pianists from far and wide … it was music galore from the grand piano on the stage at the Ware Center. Twelve pianists competed to win the Romantic Music Competition held in the Steinman Hall at the Ware Center in downtown Lancaster.
Women pianists in long dresses and heels and men pianists in black, young masters of the piano from many countries were selected from 35 representatives from Italy, Bulgaria, Korea, Columbia, Poland, China, Vietnam, Germany, Cuba, Hungary and the USA. They have been attending the Festival and it was time for the Romantic music competition —some playing Liszt (1811 – 1886), Scriabin (1872-1915), Chopin (1810 – 1849), and Schumann (1810 -1856).
Everyone agreed the 12 finalist pianists were exceptional. On the bare stage before a nearly full house at the Ware Center, one after the other thrilled the audience with performances full of crescendos and decrescendos. It was like comparing apples and oranges because the sound of Liszt would be so different from the effect of Schumann, for example. Yet the judges made their decision by the night’s end. It was not easy, they said.
All 12 performers had an incredible command of the grand piano and the Romantic era pieces that were echoes of the days when the acoustic piano was central to community and family life.
It was a great evening of almost free music, not computerized, not electronic, but ringing out from the past, through pianists who played without flaws, no music books, and they took our breath away!
In photo collage above, clock wise from left: Kathy Ashby, Elena Alvandi from Italy playing Schumann, the audience arrives. – photos by Mary Ellen Graybill
“They are young, remarkable (pianists with) skills with a lot of grace, truly I just think it was remarkable, all of them,” said Manheim township retired elementary teacher Kathy Ashby after the performance.
“This is the third year I’ve seen it,” she added “and, it’s a wonderful venue!”
Of the group of performers there were three honorable mentions: Elena Alvandi, from Italy played a crisp rendition of Papillons, Op. 2 by Robert Schumann, keeping melodies simple and dynamic. She said she had asked her parents for a piano when a child and that she was the first in her family to play piano.
Having practiced 6 hours a day, and