17 students participated in this year’s ArtePiano festival, hailing from countries such as Turkey, Georgia, South Africa, England, Qatar, Ireland, Italy, Norway and China. They received individual piano lessons, as well as group master classes from all our teachers which gave them the opportunity to experience different teaching approaches and techniques. 5 participants concerts were scheduled during the week, so students had several opportunities to perform in public, gaining experience and confidence, and improving on previous performances. Each student also received a high resolution recording of their playing, together with photos taken during lessons and concerts.

This year’s festival concert series kicked off with a 1 to 8-hand piano extravaganza, performed by our teaching faculty Yuki Negishi (Japan), Mark Nixon (South Africa), Roberto Russo (Italy) and Niel du Preez (South Africa). They played works for solo piano, piano duo, 2-piano works for 4 hands, 6-hand works on one piano, as well as music for 4 pianists on one and two pianos. On the second night we heard Swedish cellist, Kristen Malmborg, during a heartfelt performance of music by Schubert and Schumann, followed by Spanish soprano, Conchita Perez Boj, who gave an absolutely outstanding recital that included  Italian opera arias and Spanish songs. On the Tuesday night the audience experience a collision between music & art, featuring Debussy’s 12 Preludes Book 1, together with the watercolour paintings with the same titles by Mario Russo. Mario is the father of Roberto Russo, who performed 5 of the preludes. It was truly a beautiful and special evening. We were also honoured to welcome the winner of our 1st International ArtePiano Competition, Pavle Krstic. A fantastic and powerful performance which we will remember for many years to come. For the final night concert, LPDuo stunned the audience with an exciting programme featuring their own music, as well as that of their friend and composer, Ivan Božičević. Thank you to Sonja Loncar and Andrija Pavlovic for giving such an amazing concert! A real tour de force!

The 2nd International ArtePiano Competition (senior category) took place towards the end of the week. On the Thursday evening we heard the 6 finalists in a showcase concert, followed by the final round on Friday night. 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!

ArtePiano could not have asked for a better and more idyllic festival location than in Castelnuovo di Farfa, just outside Rome. The labyrinth of small medieval streets were filled with music and foreign footsteps which surprised (and confused) many of the locals. It was wonderful to see how our participants, artists and festival goers connected with each other, becoming friends, sharing their musical experiences, playing for each other in their spare time, relaxing at the pool, and cooking together. They even all took part in a pasta-making class given by the local master chef, Remiggio. At the end of the week, it felt as if we all became one big family, emotionally connected by the reason we all came to Castelnuovo in the first place – a passion for music…