Piano Extravaganza! Festival kicks off at URI, March 27-29

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 17, 2015 – Pianists, budding and accomplished, will gather at the University of Rhode Island next weekend for an annual three-day music festival.


Piano Extravaganza! begins Friday, March 27 with a performance by world-renowned pianist Daniela Roma. Her performance will start at 8 p.m. in URI’s Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, on the Kingston campus.


Roma has won critical acclaim for her interpretations of Saint-Saëns and the works of Alfonso Rendano, an Italian composer known for synthesizing different genres of piano music. She has recorded and performed across Europe.


She will perform Sonata Opus 7 No. 3 by Muzio Clementi; Variazioni sopra un tema calabrese by Rendano; Nocturn Opus 27 No. 2 and Ballad Opus 23 No. 1 by Frederic Chopin; and Sonata Opus 68 No. 9 and Fantasy in B minor – Opus 28 by Alexander Skrjabin.


On Saturday, March 28, adult amateur pianists will compete from 2 to 5 p.m., also in the Concert Hall. The event also includes a master class by Roma.


URI pianists will perform later that day, at 8 p.m., also in the Concert Hall. Those performances will showcase solo and duet piano pieces, including Toccata in D Major by Johann Sebastian Bach; Improvisation No.15 in C Minor by Francis Poulenc; and Grace Ghost Rag by William Bolcom.


Among this year’s pianists are: Sandi Lewanika, of Mississippi, who is getting her master’s degree in music; and Robert McConeghy, of Providence, who is pursuing his doctorate in pharmacy.


Undergraduate music majors performing are: James Himmelmann and Adam Peters, both of Long Island, N.Y.; and Ian Otenti of Wakefield, Tyler Sowers of Exeter, and Emily Phelps of Wakefield. URI Professor of Music and festival director Manabu Takasawa, as well as the music department’s staff pianists, Jennifer Maxwell and Susan Carroll, will also perform.


The festival concludes Sunday, March 29 with a competition from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for young pianists, allowing them to showcase their talents in a welcoming, introductory-level competition.


The contest is for students who are not yet in college and is divided into four categories based on age. The contest showcases talented young pianists throughout Southern New England


The competition is free. Admission to the evening concerts is $12 for the public, and $7 for students.


This year marks the 13th anniversary of the festival, created by Takasawa. “I started the festival in 2003 when the University approved the funds to purchase a second piano, a Steinway concert grand, and I wanted to showcase the two pianos we have,” he says. “The competition portion of the festival didn’t start until 2004. In its first year of competition, we had 14 entries. Last year we had almost 100. People come from all over Rhode Island, but also as far away as Boston and New Hampshire. I am very proud of what it has become.”


For more information, go to Piano Extravaganza!, or call the music department at 401-874-2431. The URI Concert Hall is accessible to people with disabilities and parking is available in a lot behind the Fine Arts Center.


Photo above: Daniela Roma, a world-renowned pianist will perform March 27 at the 13th annual Piano Extravaganza! at the University of Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of URI Department of Music.