For two days from March 31 – April 1, 2017, hundreds of musicians and music lovers were treated to a Hollywood-style red carpet party to kick off the Costa Rica Piano Festival and the 5th annual Super Saturday at Lone Star Montgomery College, which showcased world-renowned pianists and 15 Young Artists from Houston and surrounding areas. The party on Friday welcomed Lanzo Luconi, Costa Rica Piano Festival Director (http://costaricapianofestival.com/), Andrey Ponochevny; International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition award recipient, and Dr. Sergey Kuznetsov, Director of Piano Super Saturday (https://www.facebook.com/pianosupersaturday/), China International Piano Competition winner, and maestro to the five Houston Young Artists, Jordan Ong, Anthony Tovar, Bella Morales, Jenny Cheon and Richard Kazandzhidi. The five young artists will be traveling with the maestros to perform at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica this summer.
On Friday, the home of Tim and Dr. Josephine Ong-McBride was transformed into a Costa Rican paradise with a profusion of flowers, arts, toucans, parrots, lights, tropical fruits, and greetings of “Pura Vida!” Close to 150 guests arrived walking the red carpet, being interviewed by multi-lingual reporters including Misty Mousa Lanza from Univision, and greeted with leis from adorable children. Models strutted around the lovely home in designer’s fashion by CHYR while others tried out jewelries and viewed art from Costa Rica. Guests sampled international appetizers as they watched professional Chefs Abalos and Morales whip up authentic Costa Rican cuisine.
Live music continuously filled the air, with genres & instruments ranging from jazz to classical music, vocal, guitar, and piano. The Piece De Resistance was the Showcase Recital featuring 4 Houston Young Artists. Jordan Ong opened the concert with his performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto – 1st movement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se4LxfDTIzY) with his teacher, Dr. Sergey Kuznetsov. The pair’s powerful, yet lyrical performance moved the audience immensely, as they rose to a standing ovation. Susan Polorski, chair of the Texas Young Artist Music Competition from Conroe expressed her joy in listening to the pair’s interpretation of the much loved repertoire; and told the story of how this exact piece played by Arthur Rubenstein years ago, was the inspiration for her lifelong dedication in promoting music!
Anthony Tovar performed Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 in F major, which began quietly in sotto voce, or a quiet voice, that quickly progresses to a distinct melody and development. The next section of the ballade, in stark contrast to the first, is Presto con fuoco – literally “very fast with fire”. Young Anthony, masterfully played the contrasting “fire and ice” with such control and maturity. Bella Morales performed a delightful rendition of a living Russian composer, Schedrin’s A La Albeniz. The piece ended with a playful dissonant bang, literally, using a fist! Jenny Cheon performed two pieces, including the extremely difficult Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude with such dizzying speed and beauty! In addition, Richard Kazandzhidi showcased his improvisational skills with jazz style rendition of Besame Mucho and Jere Charlot performed Like a Star with Dr. Kuznetsov.
At the invitation of the Costa Rica Piano Festival Director, Lanzon Luconi, the five young artists will be traveling with Dr. Sergey Kuznetsov this summer to perform throughout Costa Rica. They will be joined by more young musicians that performed at the Super Saturday at the Lone Star College Music Hall. The highlight of the Saturday event was the solo recital by Andrey Ponochevny, whose repertoire includes Rachmaninov’s Andante from Cello Sonata, and Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15, “Rakoczy March”. The audience was captivated and mesmerized with the absolute beauty of his music. The experience is summed up by Dr. Kuznetsov, in one word, “MAGICAL”!!!
Fifteen young pianists from Korea, Mexico, and around the nation participated in the Young Artists’ concert. Andrey Ponochevny conducted master classes with four young pianists, Anthony Tovar, Ashley Wu, Richard Kazandzhidi and Artem Kuznetsoff.
After two days of spectacular performances, the hundreds of musicians and music lovers fortunate enough to attend the events are still on cloud nine, intoxicated with the joy and beauty of one of God’s greatest gifts – MUSIC!