Part 3: Martha Argerich Project Blog–Wardrobe, Bach, Maisky, and More

In this entry: Maisky at the Cinema, A triple wardrobe change, Lugano nightlife and restaurants, ballroom dancers in the streets, and other tales. Includes many photos~

Weekends here in Europe prove challenging for those attempting to keep gluten-free or low-carb diets, since the bakeries and cafés display their full repertoire to hapless passing visitors. Fortunately, the sheer amount of walking required here offsets the requisite guilt.

My presence as a page turner was not required at today’s rehearsals, which were undoubtedly even more intense and extended. This pace was a distinct contrast to my hopping between café-lined squares of well-dressed locals and browsing the window displays of the boutiques–here they are mostly high-end fashion retail.

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Part 2: Babayan in Recital, Yudina, Visconti, and Argerich

Almost no sleep last night, due to the excitement of the concert and all the meetings with the legendary musicians. But then, the atmosphere here is framed by groups of musicians staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning, rehearsing and practicing for the concerts. It is hard to settle into a comfortable sleep knowing that Martha Argerich is still awake and practicing at the Radio hall at the top of the mountain as though there were no more tomorrows. Her prolific practice habits are the talk of the festival.

Waking up with a window to Lake Lugano is unforgettable because of the color of the water—it always changes depending on the sky. Breakfast at the “Grand Hotel Splendide Royal”, as I remarked to my friend, strikingly evokes the rich interiors and liveried regalia of 19th-century hotels, much as in Luchino Visconti’s “Death in Venice”. People coming and going, footmen and waiters offering theatrical flourishes of hospitality, and families of somewhat unrealistic beauty speaking in hushed tones gather for hour-long breakfasts.

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Part 1: Martha Argerich Project

As part of an International Festival Society grant for my summer musical plans (including the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano) I am keeping a little daily log of the goings-on, because many of them have been extraordinary, weird, or surprising. This is a public blog post, so I tried my utmost to protect the privacy of all involved while recounting these stories.

A flight from a balmy Cleveland to Newark passed quickly because my flighty neighbors all wanted to speak, and all asked the same unlikely question “So, are you with The Orchestra?” …What is “The Orchestra”? I tell them that pianists usually play solo or as soloists with an orchestra, and their reaction usually betrays disappointment anyway.

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Heidi Kim Interviews Zsolt Bognár, October 2012

In October 2012, Heidi Kim of “Caffeinated Convos” blog interviewed Zsolt Bognár in Cleveland, mirrored here.

His earliest memory of classical music was his father playing Beethoven symphonies on old LPs. At the age of 8, Cup 21 accompanied his older brother every week to his flute lessons at the University of Illinois School of Music. Waiting in Smith Hall, young Zsolt was fascinated by the organ majors practicing in there, and decided that he was going to learn how to play this grand instrument as well.

But to his dismay, the piano teachers said that he had to begin on the piano for basic keyboard skills. Though tricked into playing the piano, he grew to love the instrument.

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InterviewZsolt Bognar