In the summer of 1987, Russian pianist Vladimir Feltsman – a child prodigy who had debuted with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 12, won First Prize at the Concertina International Competition in Prague at 15 and studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Jacob Flier – fled to the US with a little backstage help from the SUNY-New Paltz administration. He has been teaching on the upstate college’s Music faculty pretty much ever since.
Six years later, Feltsman leveraged his international reputation to create a summer music institute that brings up-and-coming young pianists from all over the world to the SUNY campus, simultaneously reaching out to the community with an annual festival of performances by a distinguished faculty and visiting artists. Featuring an integrated approach to learning and performance under Feltsman’s direction, it’s called PianoSummer, and its 19th incarnation kicks off this weekend with a Faculty Gala at McKenna Theatre. Concerts, recitals, master classes, lectures and piano competitions will take place on-campus through July 26, and all concerts and events are open to the public. This year’s guest artists include Jonathan Biss and Alexander Korsantia.
Beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, the Faculty Gala will feature Robert Hamilton, Phillip Kawin, Alexander Korsantia, Paul Ostrovsky, Robert Roux, Susan Starr and Feltsman himself. The concert program includes works by Brahms, Chopin, Ravel, Scarlatti, Schubert and Scriabin. Tickets cost $24 to $29 and can be ordered online at www.newpaltz.edu/piano/concerts.html#facultygala or by calling the Parker Theatre box office at (845) 257-3880.
The PianoSummer institute always culminates with the Jacob Flier Piano Competition, and last year’s winner, Hidemi Minagawa, will give a recital on Wednesday, July 10 at Shepard Recital Hall. You can watch the young piano students compete at McKenna on July 15 and 17. Biss will perform an all-Beethoven program on July 13 and give a Master Class on July 11; Korsantia will play works by Mussorgsky and Beethoven on July 20; Kawin will conduct a Master Class on July 23; and Feltsman and local classical music pundit Leslie Gerber will offer a lecture on the Russian Piano School on July 19.
On July 26, the Festival will wrap up with the Symphony Gala featuring the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, with Feltsman conducting. The program includes Mozart’s Impresario Overture, an as-yet-undetermined concerto to be performed by the 2013 winner of the Piano Competition and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.
Admission to a few of these events is free; for others, ticket prices range from $10 to $39. For more details and a complete schedule, visit www.newpaltz.edu/piano.
PianoSummer Institute/Festival Faculty Gala, Saturday, July 6, 8 p.m., McKenna Theatre, SUNY-New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz; (845) 257-3880, www.newpaltz.edu/piano.