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Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas? (Read 3346 times)

Offline Mark_C._Porter

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Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
« on: October 17, 2001, 09:50:47 AM »
Dear Kind Piano Forum Readers,

Please forgive me in advance for a lack of clarity expressing
myself.  I'm not a writer!

I'm forty-two, American, and have been in love with the
piano ever since my poor brain can remember.  If I had hands
that worked and that could obey the commands of my
urgings at the piano, I might not be too bad an amateur
pianist.  However, alas and alack, my hands just don't move
in accordance with signals of my (irritated beyond belief!)
brain.  So it goes, as the American writer Kurt Vonnegut
has often written.  Still, even with "focal dystonia," (as
diagnosed by Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener, in Chicago) I just
can't keep myself away from the piano, so I keep hacking
away, probably until there's nothing left but stumps on the
end of my arms.  Feel free to commiserate, but don't break
out the violins.  Make it a concert grand, Steinway or Yamaha,
or Bosendorfer, please.  (Yes, I know an umlaut is called for,
but I'm new to computer stuff--forgive me!)

But I blather on, in my usual meandering way.  (Don't be
irritated--just think "Schubert.")

Well, to come to the point (and not a moment too soon),
my interest perked up when I read of the new Van Cliburn
Piano Competition For Outstanding Amateurs.  Seemed like
a great idea to me.  But after reading a review of the first
competition, I realized that you'd truly have to be outstanding
to enter the competition and not make a complete ass of
yourself.  With my pitiful, damnable digits, I couldn't realistically entertain the idea of entering that competition.
So I got to thinking, wouldn't it be great if there were a kind
of festival for amateur pianists, which, firstly, would not be
a competition, and, secondly, would not require that one be
an "outstanding amateur."  

What I woudn't give to have even temporary access to a
concert quality piano!  For we amateur pianists, it's a bit
unfair.  If you are not rich, you can't have your own truly
excellent piano.  (Despite Chopin's insistence on using the
best possible piano even when practicing)  But perhaps for
a piano festival for amateur pianists, possible a decent concert
grand could be found somehow.

Digression:  I once had the extreme good luck to be allowed
to try out two excellent concert grands in "The Beautiful
Sound," a piano shop that used to be in downtown Chicago.
A Bosendorfer (complete with umlaut!) and a Yamaha.  
Sounding a note on the Bosendorfer, it was like a column of
the purest sound went straight up and just kept going.  And
the Yamaha seemed to have the rich, woody middle and
lower range of the Bosendorfer, plus the more brilliant treble
end of the Steinway.  Why wasn't I born rich?!

Anyway, in the future, wherever I wind up, I have in mind as
a dream trying to start some sort of piano festival for
piano lovers--amateurs.  I would expect that a certain level
of competence be there.  It wouldn't be of much interest to
hear a first grade teaching piece!  In keeping with the
Van Cliburn idea, maybe a certain minimum age might be a
good idea--as opposed to the usual maximum age limit in
professional competitions.  But, then again, maybe not!
There are always some little kids who can play "the heck" out
of the piano!

If you have any thoughts on the notion, I'd appreciate hearing
from you!

Not to be money-grubbing, but I wonder if there would be
some way I could make a little money from such a festival?
Maybe a small entry fee or something?  I expect that renting
a concert grand would cost a bit of money, as would
advertising the event, and all preparations involved.

Lastly, another digression--sorry!  That Arcadi Volodos--Wow!! Now Mr. Volodos is the very definition of a great pianist, for my money.  He's got it all--incredible technique, but at the complete service of tremendous musicianship!  What a lucky man!  What I wouldn't give to be able to play the piano like Mr. Volodos--even for just a day!  

Offline martin_s

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #1 on: October 17, 2001, 12:37:30 PM »
I am always so happy to be reminded that there are "people like you" out there - I mean people who have that true love not only for the music but for the instrument in the way that you seem to have!!!

Your idea of the festival sounds like a great idea, I'm defenitely in!! It is just that I am on the other side of the pond it seems and unfortunately (this time) I am afraid I have got documents saying that I can play the piano so I probably wont be acceptable for the festival anyway... :)

However, I think we need ideas like this and truely dedicated people like you to keep up the fasciation around the lovely little coffin like box of hammers and strings that we call our instrument! I wish you the best of luck with your festival.

Offline Mark_C._Porter

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #2 on: October 19, 2001, 03:03:28 PM »
Dear Mr. Martin S.-,

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.  I
appreciate your kind words and encouragement.  

You are, I gather, a graduate of a music conservatory,
and a pianist?  Lucky you!  How I wish I had hands that
could do my bidding!  

By the way, I typed out a long response to your reply, but
a message came up on my computer screen saying it was
too long.  I then mysteriously lost the whole e-mail I'd
written for you.  I'm new at computer stuff, so I somehow
managed to lose my reply to you in "cyberspace."  I'm very
sorry for that.  It was a pretty entertaining letter, if I do say
so myself.  Anyway, I contacted the webmaster, who told
me that he has extended the word limit to 10,000 characters.
Now if only I knew what that meant in terms of words!

As for a piano festival, I guess it would be nice to have
professional pianists participate, too, although the order
in which performers would appear would have to be worked
out carefully in advance.  To avoid having one performer
use up too much time for some gigantic work.  A professional
choosing to offer up the "Hammerklavier" could perhaps play
either at the very beginning--or better yet, at the very end.
Or maybe it might be best for such works not to be encouraged, for the basic purposes of a piano festival geared
toward mainly amateur pianists.  Or maybe a pros-only part
of the festival.  That might be better--not to crush the
amateur performers' feelings too completely!  Imagine a
forlorn amateur pianist having to follow up the "Hammerklavier"
with Bach's "Musette"!  Funny, I guess, but not to the poor
soul slated to play the "Musette"! (Only to be followed by
a pro doing the "Diabelli Variations.")

Well, it's all in the vague future.  But at some point I will try
to come up with some sort of piano festival wherever I
(whenever?) put down some roots.  There's little I love more
than the huge and glorious world of piano music.  I also
like jazz piano, too, so I would allow for performers to play
jazz piano as well as classical selections.  That might go
against your grain, I don't know.  I've noticed that a lot of
classically trained musicians have a deep repugnance for
jazz.  I don't really understand that myself.  For me, anyway,
a lot of jazz piano is a lot of fun, at the very least.  I'm not
one to insist on total gravity in life or music!

Thanks again very much for your encouragement.  By the
way, do you know Richter's live recording of the "Diabelli"?
Absolutely incredible playing!

Best wishes,

Mark Porter

P.S.  Do you know Medtner's "Dancing Fairytale" in C-major?
What a fantastic piano score!

Offline mozartean

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #3 on: January 09, 2002, 07:58:57 AM »
Dear fellow amateur pianists, I am from Singapore and there is an annual event called the Piano Marathon since 1998. What happens is that a Sunday in June will be set aside for the event which takes place in the vast atrium of Raffles City Convention Center. Pianists of all ages and standards will take turns to play a piece or two of their choice on the stage to the audience. The audience comprises shoppers who shop at the shopping mall. The event starts at 10 am and ends at 10 pm. I participated in the 1998 Piano Marathon, playing the Chopin Etude Op 10 No 3 and the Fantasie Impromptu. I am looking forward to this year's event! Do you have such an event in your country?
A true blue Singaporean

Offline pianodeanne

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #4 on: January 16, 2002, 05:03:28 AM »
Hi, Mark!

I have played the piano all my life, and I am the proud owner of a Baldwin Acrosonic bench, of which I inherited from my late Grandmother a few years ago.  The sound board is cracked halfway, so when it gets tuned, it has to be done so a whole note lower!  But it is my [Grandma's] piano, and to me it is GRAND!

I was just enjoying your topic here, and I would like to suggest something if I may.  Since it is a festival you would like to do, why not make it an Amateur Piano Lover's Festival, in that one hour is made up of Classical, another of Jazz, another of Boogie Woogie, and then let the little ones who are not afraid have a time to share their newfound study?  You can also find people who make musical (piano) crafts, and set up tables.  ***Here is where you can charge $15.00 or so to set up a craft table, or even a food stand, if you want to go that far***  (Of course, this all depends on how big you want it to be.)  How am I sounding so far?  Ooh, I want to come, too!!  I could pass out programs at the door!   -I really get excited about things like this.  I was the organist and choir director at my hometown church for 10 yrs, and put on a Community Christmas, in the small country town I now live in, so I LOVE organizing things and coming up with a plan.    This would be so cool!

I hope my suggestions offered you a little help.  Chicago is a bit far from me, too.  I am from Ohio.  But you seem like just the person who could pull something like this off.  Just remember not to be biased or discriminative if you do actually do it, because you will always have someone who will get "mad" if you don't use their ideas.  Been there, done that.

Deanne ;)
Praise, praise, praise!!!

Offline rmc7777

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #5 on: February 04, 2002, 04:43:46 AM »

There is a piano competition for amateurs called the Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs.  You can get info at the web site


I don't know if this is the same thing as a piano festival, or if this is what you had in mind, but it looks like a good opportunity for amateurs to try their hand, so to speak, at competing.

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #6 on: March 09, 2002, 08:18:16 AM »
Well, I dunno.  That Boston competition sounds pretty intense!  I have a feeling Mark is aiming for a more casual get together, where folks "take turns" playing for the audience - no pressure.  I for one haven't played a solo in front of an audience since solo competitions in high school, so something like this would be an excellent way to force me to select a piece that I can actually do, Learn the damned thing, and memorize it.  It would be so--o-o- good for me.  And it would be fun!  I love the idea.  

Mark - you are right, though.  I also play in a concert band inPortland, Oregon.  I can guarantee that almost EVERYTHING you want to do will cost money.  the piano, the concert hall, food, programs, etc etc.  If such a thing was put together I could definitely get into flying to wherever to play and hear other players, as long as it wouldn't be the kind of thing (like the Boston or Cliburn deal) where I'd make a total fool out of myself.  So there will definitely be an entrance fee of some kind - just so there's a decent piano and place to play.  Sometimes piano dealers will lend pianos for free or cheap for the advertising, so who knows?  

Don't lose the idea!  I love it!  I'm in!  

So much music, so little time........

Offline rmc7777

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Re: Piano festival for amateur pianists--Ideas?
«Reply #7 on: March 18, 2002, 01:04:45 AM »

Having a piano festival for amateurs instead of competitions is a great idea.  I don't think I've heard of such an event but I'll bet the turnout would be large.  If anyone hears of something like this, please post it.