Update on our exceptional artists and generous supporters
Message from the Editor
As we move from the warmer days of summer and our successful music-filled 30th Pianofest season to the more inward days of autumn, we have time to reflect on the many memories brought to us by Paul, our extended Pianofest family of student performers, and all of our audiences, supporters, and board members. As we look forward to our exciting next prospects in our future, we would like to take a moment to thank two individuals whose contribution to the Pianofest mission has been across the spectrum: Geoffrey and Bonnie Hind.
As supporters and a ubiquitous presence at our weekly concerts, they also for years spearheaded the Pianofest at Brookhaven National Laboratory series, which is—just like all good things—now drawing to a close. It is because of their example that so many more audiences in the region were able to hear and support our young performers. For the rest of us at Pianofest, we will follow their example, redouble our efforts to keep ourselves inventive and dynamic, and find new ways to reach the next generation of Pianofest audiences and supporters.
This year, we have started an exciting new endeavor with live-streaming our Monday concerts at Avram Theater as a way to reach younger audiences. We had nearly 10,000 views in total with Konstantin Soukhovetski as host—and indeed we had viewers tune in from around the world, including myself from afar.
We also performed this summer at a new venue in scenic Orient Point, in addition to our regular East Hampton Wednesday concerts at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
We wish you a wonderful upcoming holiday season and look forward to being in touch. As always, we love hearing from you and welcome any feedback. In the meantime, we thank you for your support and for being part of our Pianofest community.
With warmest wishes,
Above: Watch Cahill Smith perform Medtner.
Alumnus Feature: Cahill Smith
We congratulate Cahill Smith for the recent release of his of debut album Forgotten Melodies on the Blue Griffin label. The recording is full of illuminating insights into the music of the mostly lesser-known and greatly underrated composer Nikolai Medtner, named by Rachmaninoff as a composer he most admired.
“This debut album with works of Medtner features some of the music that has become closest to my heart, and that I felt the greatest need to share,” said Cahill in a phone interview. “I discovered some of it while practicing at Pianofest, and played a few of these pieces in concerts there.”
Richly recorded with warm presence, this recording shares music that Cahill presented in an all-Medtner program at Carnegie Hall in 2015. New York Concert Review praised him as “revealing every twist and turn, every poignant repeat of cyclic themes, with beautiful shimmering colors.”
A longtime favorite at Pianofest as a performer, house manager, and talented chef, Cahill completed his Doctorate at the Eastman School of Music. He is in his fifth year on the piano faculty of Lee University, where he also serves as the Artistic Director of the Lee University Piano Festival and Competition.
“The summers I had at Pianofest gave me wonderful memories and learning experiences that have made a lasting impact on me as a person and as a musician. What inspired me the most were the people: of course Paul’s extraordinary guidance, but also the other pianists and the community around us.”
Katherine Benson Won a Top Prize at the Kerikeri International Piano Competition
Katherine Benson wrote at the time of her win: “What an amazing week it’s been in New Zealand! So honored and blown away to have won Second Prize in the 2018 Kerikeri International Piano Competition. What a beautiful and supportive community they have in Kerikeri, and how inspiring to have been surrounded by so many brilliant pianists this week! Also: I saw a Kiwi bird!!!”
Katherine is a student of Pianofest alumnus James Giles, now the Director of Music Performance Graduate Studies at Northwestern University and Director of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival.
Alumni Updates at a Glance
Adam Mayon appeared in October at Steinway Hall – and he and his wife are the proud new parents of a baby girl! Nikita Tonkonogov won the Siegrief Weishaupt International Piano Competition. Konstantin Soukhovetski performed cabaret at the Southampton Inn. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get all of our alumni updates!
Trustee Snapshot Profile: Dr. Michael Errico
You’re very active as a pianist in several capacities in addition to being a renowned doctor—how do you balance your time?
Well I’m semi-retired now, so I have afternoons to myself at the piano. Two nights a week I go to the extension programs at Juilliard, which is something I have done for 25 years now and am involved with various amateur groups. I also take the occasional lesson from Paul.
You’ve performed Mozart’s 23rd Concerto with orchestra—what was that like?
It was a lot of work. It took me a year to get it just right, with coachings from Konstantin and weekly lessons from Paul. But I loved it.
How did you first come to Pianofest?
My wife and I first moved to the Hamptons in 1999, so that I could pursue the music world, and so that my wife could pursue the art world—the Hamptons have both of course. I went there because of Paul—I had heard of Pianofest and his work, and simply introduced myself after one of the concerts with a “my name is”. Within a year I was on the board and have been a dedicated and active member ever since.
What’s the best thing about supporting young performers?
There are endless rewards. There’s the companionship and being around them all. A lot of them come to my house to play for house concerts. It’s rewarding to see that Orion and Tomer have taken the stages including at Carnegie Hall—to follow the careers of the many who go on to do great things. We are also friends with Antonio Pompa-Baldi and with Anderson and Roe.
Was there a highlight for you during this 30th season?
The highlight was the recognition that went to Paul and everything he has achieved. He has given us 30 years of musical ecstasy.
Tribute: Dr. Goeffrey and Bonnie Hind
Across my summers at Pianofest, one of the most distinctive excursions I remember regularly being part of was in fact a central part of the festival experience: our concerts at Brookhaven National Laboratory. These were exciting in several ways, because upon arrival we as classical pianists had to arrive with security clearance, and from a distance we could spot the unusual sights that are on location, and I remember when the new particle accelerator was under construction. Inside, we were kindly greeted by Geoff and Bonnie, who for years organized these appearances. We were shown to the large auditorium with the Steinway Model D, and I remember how they would make sure we had everything we needed. I remember that on a couple of these occasions Paul had me lead these presentations, and I did so trying to emulate his inimitable style of demonstrating with lively commentary and background on the pieces and composers. After we finished sharing our music, we were always invited by Geoff and Bonnie to lunch, where we also met members of the audience. I am so grateful to them for having given their time, energy, and passion for music to all of us and to this extended group of our Pianofest audiences, and for being part of our Pianofest family in such a memorable and meaningful way. –Zsolt Bognár
Other Highlights from Our 30th Anniversary Season
Our faculty this year were Robert Blocker (Dean at the Yale School of Music), Pavel Nersessian, Orion Weiss, and Jerome Lowenthal—all frequent Pianofest favorites!
We received a tremendous amount of press, all of which can be accessed on our new website. Particularly, listen to Paul's interview on WSHU.