Message from the Artistic Director

On the 23rd of July, the first official International ArtePiano Festival in the beautiful medieval town of Castelnuovo di Farfa in Italy drew to a close! What an incredible week it was. Students, teachers, artists and listeners from all around the world came together to be part of a week filled with musical festivities. We at ArtePiano could not have been more happy about the outcome of the festival.
We heard stunning performances by fellow concert pianists and teachers Yuki Negishi, Roberto Russo and Mark Nixon, Swedish cellist Kristen Malmborg, Spanish soprano Conchita Perez Boj, Bulgarian pianist Pavle Krstic, and the Serbian duo pair, LPDuo. They all brought something extremely special and valuable to the concert series through their highly artistic, musical, poetic, heartfelt, passionate, sensitive and virtuosic performances which we will remember for many years to come.
The 17 students who participated in our masterclasses, hailing from countries such as Georgia, Turkey, China, Norway, Ireland, England, Lithuania, Qatar, Italy and South Africa, brought so much energy and joy to the festival. It was great to have worked with them all, and to hear them play in the 5 participants’ concerts that took place during the week. It was wonderful to see how they connect with each other, becoming friends, talking about music, sharing their ideas, and playing for each other in their spare time. There was a healthy balance between practising hard, learning, listening, observing, and relaxing, socialising and having fun.
The 2nd International ArtePiano Competition (senior category) took place towards the end of the week. On the Thursday and Friday evening we heard the 6 finalists in a showcase concert, followed by the final round. The competition jury was blown away by the exceptionally high standard of playing. The artistry, musical depth, maturity, virtuosity and beauty knew no boundaries. The 1st prize went to 16-year old Ruochong Steven Cui from the United States, and 2nd prize was awarded to Italian pianist, Alessandro Villalva. Steven is a student at the Julliard School of Music in Manhattan, New York, while Alessandro studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Our other 4 finalists were Anfisa Bobylova (Ukraine), Johannes Obermeier (Germany), Kamila Ozerova (Czech Republic), and Jou-Yu Shieh (Taiwan). Bravi, and congratulations to all these young pianists on their superb performances!
A special thanks toCastelnuovo’s mayor Luca Zonetti, and to Fondazione Varrone in Rieti whose generous support and sponsorship towards ArtePiano made it possible to host this year’s festival. We are also extremely grateful towards our friends and all the volunteers who have helped making the week a huge success. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of you.
Next year’s ArtePiano festival is scheduled for the middle of July. If you like planning ahead, this is a week to keep in mind….
A presto!

Niel Du Preez

16-22 July 2023

Castelnuovo di Farfa – Italy

An inspiring piano music festival for everyone – professionals, piano students and people who love to play and people who love to listen! 


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