Paso Robles News|Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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Paderewski Festival celebrates musical talent, international cooperation 

Piano competition winner Sarah Girges recieves feedback from master pianist

Youth piano competition winner Sarah Girges receives feedback from master pianist Thomas Pandolfi
 at the Master Class.

–The Paderewski Festival returned this year to Paso Robles over the weekend. The festival celebrates the legacy of former Paso Robles resident, Ignacy Jan Paderewski – virtuoso pianist, composer, international politician, local landowner, grower and winemaker – with four days of concerts and special events featuring internationally-renowned performers and young pianists from the Central Coast.

The festival kicked off on Thursday with a wine reception at Cass Winery, with music from the City of Angels Saxaphone quartet, who presented a concert illustrating the history of the saxophone with a repertoire of, “classics, jazz and a Polish connection.” A gourmet meal accompanied by wines from Cass Winery was served.

On Friday, the festival hosted a master class with pianist Thomas Pandolfi
 in the Park Ballroom. Pandolfi
 was the featured pianist at the gala held on Saturday. The class was an opportunity for two of this year’s youth piano competition winners to practice the pieces that they would perform on Saturday’s recital and receive feedback from Pandolfi. That evening featured a wine reception and concert with Motion Trio Ensemble, featuring works by Lutoslawski, Gorecki, Lilar and others.

On Saturday the festival had a special movie screening at Park Cinemas, a recital of the winning young piano virtuosos, and then the annual gala event, where Pandolfi performed works by Padeweski as well as Chopin and Gershwin. On Sunday, the festival finished with a recital by the 2015 exchange program participants Daniel Ha and Kannan Freyaldenhoven.

Since 2007 the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles has organized the annual Youth Piano Competition. Selected Youth Competition winners may also have an opportunity to travel to Poland on the Cultural Exchange Program, held biennially since 2009. The winners this year were 10-year-old Holly Handsall from Santa Barbara, 10-year-old Sarah Girges from Santa Maria, 14-year-old Luke Kim from Santa Barbara, 15-year-old Jane Yang from Pacific Grove and 16-year-old Anton de la Fuente from Monterey.

Paderewski wanted to establish a music school in Paso Robles, California—his beloved American retreat—and the Paderewski Festival Cultural Exchange Program seeks to foster that dream. It was initiated by a Sister Cities agreement between Paso Robles and Tarnów, Poland, signed in November 2008. The Exchange Program encourages the exploration of cultural, educational and business opportunities between these two communities that share historical ties to Paderewski.

Below watch Luke Kim perform. Kim was the first place winner in the Junior Division.

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