Music festivals often rely on the initiative of a spirited founding member or institution, whose goals manifest themselves through the characteristics of that festival.
Since its launch at the initial venue, the Miami Beach Lincoln Theater, in 1998, the Miami International Piano Festival has steadily gained momentum by adding venues and entourage, evoking the “Golden Age of the piano” in sunny South Florida.
The co-founder and artistic director of the festival, Giselle Brodsky, herself a trained pianist and teacher, established the foundation, “Patrons of Exceptional Artists”, to support exceptionally gifted performers. When I met Brodsky in summer 2010 at the annual Golandsky International Piano Seminar and Festival at Princeton University, she explained the rather spontaneous birth of the festival to me: “I had organized a house concert, as I often do for my students, and I had invited some of my good friends. There is so much talent out there, and with the right support system, young artists can really grow and achieve wonderful things. So I addressed my friends and told them: ‘I have the dream to be able to make a difference in these young artists’ lives, and share that dream with you and with audiences right here in Florida’. They supported me and soon I had the basic funding to apply for grants and get the festival on its feet.” (Photo: Giselle Brodsky)
The Bolivian-born powerhouse can certainly rely on her highly developed skills when it comes to recognizing great talent in prospective performers. Many fine pianists have performed at the Miami Festival before launching successful international careers, thus confirming Brodsky’s choices. Among those are Piotr Anderszewski and Ingrid Fliter, two pianists who went on winning the prestigious Gilmore Award.
Yet, perhaps even more impressive than Brodsky’s ability to recognize exceptional talent early on, is the fact that artists, who have been building strong careers over the years, still enjoy taking part in the Miami Festival, time and again.
Attracted by Brodsky’s continuous commitment to bringing musicians and audiences together in the best possible way, her list of returning performers has grown into an impressive roster of musicians from all over the world. With her personal interaction being based on camaraderie, respect, and understanding, it comes as no surprise that many performers have also become personal friends of Brodsky’s, such as the Russian pianist, Ilya Itin, and the Turkish pianist, Guelsin Onay. Like Brodsky, Onay is the artistic director of a music festival. Last summer, Brodsky has visited Onay’s Bodrum-based festival in Turkey as a lecturer.