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Classical Music Festival To Offer Three Months Worth Of Hamptons Programming

Olivia Rutigliano

A performance at the Avram Theater. (Courtesy Photo)

PianoFest in the Hamptons will celebrate its 30th anniversary season this year. The East End's premiere summertime classical musical festival will run from Tuesday, June 18 through Monday, August 13.

The brainchild of Paul Schenly, Pianofest began as a creative vision of a community of pianists and piano lovers surrounded by nature's East End wonder. Since then, it developed into a summer festival-school that offers exceptionally concentrated study to a small group of pianists selected by audition, with weekly evening concerts featuring these emerging artists that occur at different venues in the Hamptons.

Pianofest teaching encourages support rather than competition. In addition to emphasizing the solo repertoire, students accompany each other in concertos and explore the duo piano literature. Pianofest gives musicians the opportunity to nurture friendships, perform, and meet community members. The Hamptons attract visitors from around the world, while local residents include renowned authors, artists and musicians.

"Pianofest is really three things. First of all, it is a small colony of talented pianists dedicated to studying the great piano repertoire. Secondly, it is also about giving the ideas we discuss a reality through performance. This opens a beautiful world of sentiment and feeling so that our music can be shared with others. Thirdly, it's sharing music and commentary with the public for their music appreciation and enjoyment. It's a way of bringing people together who, regardless of their skill, love music," said Schenly.

Many Pianofest participants are engaged to perform at Hamptons music festivals and other local venues, such as the Southampton Cultural Center, the Montauk Library, The Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival and others.

Nearly 500 pianists have passed through the festival since 1988 - including Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Sergei Babayan and sensational Steinway Artists Anderson & Roe Piano Duo.

"An important goal of Pianofest is to bring together young musicians and audiences to develop and maintain music appreciation and high musical standards. All these young artists show a great range of promise and ability. They are quite diverse in age and character, but alike in the muse they serve. I am hoping that the freedom, intimacy, and idealism at Pianofest have a seminal effect on all of us," Schenly added.

Paul Schenly with students. (Courtesy Photo)

Pianofest offers daily lessons and pianists attend the lessons of their colleagues. Also, they participate in weekly public master classes conducted by Schenly, and guest artists, such as Jerome Lowenthal, Sergei Babayan, Yefim Bronfman, Andre Watts, Richard Goode, Anton Nel, Claude Frank, Arie Vardi, Melvin Chen, Yoheved Kaplinsky, John O'Connor, and Pavel Nersessian, all of whom participated in the past.

This summer, the current roster highlights 24 artists in concert throughout Southampton and East Hampton venues.

Southampton concerts will be held at the Levita Center for the Arts at Southampton Cultural Center (25 Pond Lane) on Monday, June 25 and at the Avram Theater (239 Montauk Highway) on Monday, July 2, Monday, July 9, Monday, July 16, Monday, July 23, Monday, July 30, Monday, August 6, and Monday, August 13.

East Hampton concerts will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Church (18 James Lane) on Wednesday, June 27, Wednesday, July 11, Wednesday, July 25, and Wednesday, August 8.

All tickets are $20 per person at the door only. Students are free.

To learn more, visit pianofest.com or call 631-329-9115.

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