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.
Apart from pianists, Brodsky also includes other instrumentalists that inspire her in her festival line-ups. There is, for example, the now 81-years old violin virtuoso, Ida Haendel, who Zubin Mehta called a “violinist for violinists”. A British citizen and Florida resident, Haendel is a living legend who has shared her extraordinary talent with the greatest orchestras and most legendary conductors. Her autobiography, “Woman with Violin” (1970), describes the extraordinary life of a musician that Brodsky truly admires, so much so, that she shares her admiration for Haendel on YouTube. (Photo – Ida Haendel and Giselle Brodsky)
Brodsky also stands by this remarkable artist by acting as a producer for Haendel’s soon-to-be-released DVD. The DVD will feature Haendel, as accompanied by the young pianist, Misha Dacic, herself another of Brodsky’s regular festival performers.
(Photo Misha Dacic)
It seems that Brodsky and Haendel share devotion for a ‘full-blooded performance’, or that ‘affliction’ Haendel described in a recent Associated Press interview, stating, … “Passion is something you are born with”.
The Single Composer Series: Started in 2008, the series features marathon performances and recordings by pianists, who are highly regarded for their interpretation of a particular composer.
Examples include ‘benchmark recordings’, such as Konstantin Lifshitz’s Well-Tempered Clavier (on DVD), as well as recorded performances by Kemal Gecic, Misha Dacic, and Ilya Itin.
Lectures focus on a variety of disciplines, incl. film and music documentaries.
Master classes support the festival’s objective to be innovative and support the educational effect of performances on the audience.
Recording projects: CDs and DVDs are available on the festivals VAI label, and on the new ‘Miami International Piano Festival’ label. See also the festival’s YouTube channel.
Film projects related to the festival:
– Brodsky and Haendel are featured prominently in a three-part documentary titled The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies, produced by Britain’s Channel 4, and partially filmed in South Florida. The series will be aired in the U.S. in February 2011.
Italian pianist, Francesco Libetta, ‘discovered’ at the festival by renowned music documentarian, Bruno Monsaingeon, is featured in the award-winning film, The Pianist of the Impossible.
Libetta will kick off the 2010/2011 season by performing in a concert at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center location on November 28 (this Sunday).
He will also perform with Ida Haendel at the Festival Sagra Musicale Malaestiana, one of Italy’s premier cultural events, on December 5. (PhotoFranscesco Libetta)
For more information about the Miami International Piano Festival and Giselle Brodsky, go to the Festival website.