Last Wednesday night, despite the snowstorm, Carnegie Hall in New York City was teeming with rounds of applause as well as classical music performed by talented, young musicians, who were the winners of the 2018 Baltimore International Piano Festival.
The Festival runs in July each year, and accepts applications from all pianists between the ages of 7 and 27. Boasting a stellar faculty from Oberlin Conservatory, the Julliard School, and Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, the Festival offers its participants an intensive, week-long rendezvous with masterpieces of composers, who were the “pop stars” two centuries ago. With a diverse curriculum that includes classes on ear training and history of piano performance, the Festival encourages the group of youth, from young professionals to curious amateurs, to appreciate and understand the language of classical music and the timeless emotions it bespeaks.
Yury Shadrin, the co-founder of the Festival and a professional pianist himself, explained the organization’s mission.
“Classical music is like a great novel,” Shadrin said. “Once you learned to read in its language, how can you possibly let go of it? And we are exactly teaching this language to our students. While young professionals interact directly with the masters, the amateurs, even by simply observing, will be inspired to learn more. We can’t teach them everything in one week; but we can show them many, many doors.”
Furthermore, the young performers at Carnegie Hall came from not only the U.S. but also different parts of China. Tian Lu, the co-artistic director, knows well the hardship of pursuing a career as a professional pianist in less developed parts of China.
“It’s simply incredible to see a young talent from a rural area in China performing on the stage of Carnegie,” Lu said. “We’re trying our best to find and support talents. It doesn’t matter if the pianists came from a big city or a small village because talent is all we need to attract a larger, more diverse audience.”
Indeed, from their carefully designed applications, to long hours of practices at Baltimore, and finally to the glamor of Carnegie Hall, these aspiring pianists are embracing the challenges of bringing their shared passion for music and unique stories onto the stage of the world. Meanwhile, breaking cultural and linguistic barriers, the Festival will continue to share the popular melodies of older times, which still bear tremendous contemporary relevance, with the public today.
– Tiancheng Lyu