Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Music of Ludovic Lamothe at Liszt-Garrison Festival and International Piano Competition Oct. 14-18

[Fleurs d`Haiti, 10 Selections de Piano par Ludovic Lamothe Compositeur; Disques Victor]

Piano fest, competition
By Tim Smith
October 13, 2009

So it's not as well known as the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. It's still a significant event, it's in Baltimore, and it's fun. The Liszt-Garrison Festival and International Piano Competition, which starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday at the Cellege of Notre Dame of Maryland, will involve more than 50 pianists from 22 countries. 'It is less a competition than a festival,' says Ernest Ragogini. 'It's a wonderful atmosphere. A number of competitors from previous years have come back as volunteers because they enjoyed it so much.' Ragogini, a pianist on the Notre Dame faculty, co-directs the event with Nancy Roldán, a pianist recently retired from the Peabody Conservatory faculty. She founded the venture in 2004 in memory of pianist and piano technician William Garrison, who died that year. The Baltimore-Washington Chapter of the American Liszt Society subsequently became the presenter.

“Now held biennially, the Liszt-Garrison Competition offers about $15,000 in prizes in several categories, including solo, concerto and collaborative artist. There also are awards for artists in their teens and early 20s. In addition to the prizes, contestants have a shot at concert engagements, including a remarkable opportunity to give a solo recital at the famed Bayreuth Festival in Germany next summer. 'We had 86 applicants from 24 countries,' Ragogini says, 'and the pianists are at a very high level. Even those we didn't choose were quite good.' Entrants are required to play a work by Liszt and an American composer; they have free rein for the rest of their repertoire.”

“The countries represented include a surprise from our hemisphere. 'There's a connection between Chopin and Haiti,' Ragagini says. Haitian pianist and composer Ludovic Lamothe, who died in 1953, was dubbed 'the black Chopin.' In addition to music by the rarely encountered Lamothe, piano works by Russian poet and novelist Boris Pasternak are scheduled. Also on tap is the premiere of a recently unearthed transcription of a Chopin etude. Alan Walker, the foremost Liszt biographer today, will be featured in a lecture, just one more attraction in what promises to be a five-day feast for keyboard lovers. All events are at the College of Notre Dame, 4701 N. Charles St. Admission prices range from $25 for a single event to $125 for a five-day pass. Call 410-833-5782 or go to [Ludovic Lamothe is profiled at]

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