Rafal Blechacz Is Selected for Gilmore Artist Award

January 8th, 2014

The Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz suspected nothing at all when, while planning for three concert events in Switzerland in late 2012, he was bombarded with inquiries by the creative director of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. He had no clue that a recital he gave that calendar year in Schenectady, N.Y., was intently scrutinized and talked about and debated by a pick couple of listeners.

And he thought practically nothing of it when the male from the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Pageant in Kalamazoo, Mich., sought a conference in Berlin, assuming that they would just be speaking about his following look at the festival.

Alternatively, it was in that meeting in Berlin final summer season that a startled Mr. Blechacz discovered that he experienced been chosen to get 1 of the excellent windfalls of the music globe: the $ three hundred,000 Gilmore Artist Award, which is offered every single 4 several years to an unsuspecting pianist deemed deserving of a fantastic occupation by a panel of nameless judges who conduct their around the world talent search in magic formula.

“I was fortunate,” Mr. Blechacz mentioned of that Berlin meeting, “because I was sitting down.”

The award, which will be announced officially on Wednesday, is often believed of as the audio world’s edition of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grants: a prestigious prize that can not be used for or sought. The long confidential selection process aims to judge pianists above a sustained interval of time, in marked distinction to hundreds of other sink-or-swim piano competitions that can resemble attractiveness pageants or actuality demonstrates.

With the award, Mr. Blechacz, 28, will sign up for an elite and different group of recipients, who include Kirill Gerstein, Ingrid Fliter, Piotr Anderszewski and Leif Ove Andsnes. He will acquire $ 50,000 in income, and $ 250,000 will be produced obtainable to assist him foster his career. (Previous recipients have utilized that cash to get much better pianos, fee new tunes, subsidize recordings and get sabbaticals to learn new repertoire.)

Mr. Blechacz (pronounced BLEH-hatch) rose to fame in 2005 when, at twenty, he became the 1st Polish pianist in 3 a long time to earn the Intercontinental Chopin Piano Competitiveness. Considering that then, he has made several well-obtained recordings of Chopin, Debussy and Szymanowski for Deutsche Grammophon performed live shows about the entire world and researched the philosophy of songs and aesthetics at Nicolaus Copernicus College in Torun, Poland. He is writing a e-book about musical interpretation.

In a wide-ranging job interview this week at Steinway Corridor on West 57th Avenue in Manhattan, Mr. Blechacz — a slender youthful male with a mop of brown hair who quite a lot appears the part of the Chopin interpreter — spoke about his musical upbringing and influences, his goals, and how he may use the award income for a better piano or to subsidize a recording with a significant orchestra. “I have time to think about this,” he mentioned.

He is scheduled to engage in a live performance in New York on Wednesday at five:thirty p.m., presented by WQXR, at the Greene Room, which will be streamed dwell on the web.

He was chosen from much more than one hundred other contenders by the Gilmore’s creative advisory committee, whose members in excess of numerous a long time listened to hundreds of recordings and attended scores of concert events, from Kalamazoo to Istanbul. They utilised a password-guarded web site to share musical data files and their opinions, and held their roles key from close friends and co-staff. And while most experienced day work in the songs market that produced it properly normal for them to show up at plenty of concerts, some had to resort to subterfuge at instances.

Daniel R. Gustin, the Gilmore festival’s director, mentioned that he felt much more exposed at concerts than his fellow judges.

“If people see them at a live performance, it is really normal,” he explained. “If they see me at a concert, they believe, ‘Aha!’ So I do get some treatment: I are inclined to sit in the balcony, and not get up throughout intermissions, and slink in and out of concert events.”

He recalled a performance in Wichita, Kan., where, concerned that some of the associates of the orchestra may possibly identify him, he invested the intermission with his experience buried deep in the program. “A lady stated to me, ‘Young guy, you want a new pair of eyeglasses!’ ”

Yet another Gilmore judge, Numa Bischof-Ullmann, the artistic and govt director of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, identified himself with a especially excellent opportunity to observe Mr. Blechacz up close when the pianist went to Switzerland to play 3 live shows with the orchestra. The orchestra musicians “had begged me to invite him,” Mr. Bischof-Ullmann mentioned, “which is usually a extremely excellent indicator.”

So Mr. Bischof-Ullmann carefully viewed all the rehearsals, arousing the curiosity of some of the musicians.

“It was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. two, and I feel which is a quite revealing concerto to do with a pianist,” he recalled, expressing that he was notably struck by Mr. Blechacz’s collaborative spirit. “It was good to see any person who does not just arrive and feel, ‘I can perform this concerto, let’s have a wonderful concert,’ but who thinks, ‘Let’s perform on it and try to understand it and make our very own interpretation.’ ”

Mr. Bischof-Ullmann also engaged Mr. Blechacz in wide-ranging musical discussions about music, repertoire and preferred pianists. “Now he must be pondering, ‘Ah, which is why he requested so a lot of inquiries!’ ” he stated, laughing.

Mr. Blechacz, for his portion, recalled talking about the pianist Arthur Rubinstein with Mr. Bischof-Ullmann, and comparing the relative deserves of cadenzas in Mozart piano concertos. He laughed at the realization that these conversations had, unbeknown to him, been part of the judging procedure. “I did not know!” he stated.

For one more decide, Sherman Van Solkema, a previous chairman of the tunes departments at Brooklyn Higher education and Grand Valley Condition College in Michigan, the minute he began to settle on Mr. Blechacz arrived when he read him play Chopin’s Ballade No. one in G minor at a recital at Union Higher education in Schenectady in 2012, with several other associates of the advisory committee.

“I imagined, ‘That’s about as great as it receives,’ ” Mr. Van Solkema recalled. “What I stated at the time was, ‘I’ve by no means read the G slight ballade — which is something that you hear a great deal in the piano globe — that cogent.’ ”

Mr. Blechacz stated that as he has labored on his quick guide about musical interpretation — which he said would consider to create on the perform of Roman Ingarden, the Polish thinker — he has been grappling with queries of efficiency and interpretation as the two a pupil and a performer. A single certain functionality of Chopin’s Mazurkas that he gave in Hamburg stays in his brain.

“After the final chord, it was extremely silent in the hall,” he stated. “The viewers did not applaud. And I felt that there was some thing special — it was the biggest reward for me from the viewers, due to the fact I realized that they ended up completely in my musical globe.

“Sometimes, it occurs.”

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