This last weekend the Piano Extravaganza event, featuring different University of Rhode Island and “some of the best pianists in the Northeast,” took over the Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Center. This event has been a yearly event at URI since 2002. In 2002, URI approved the funding for a brand new grand piano, the second of its kind at the school. To celebrate the school funding this new piano, Manabu Takasawa, a professor of music at the University, created the Piano Extravaganza.
Fast forward 16 years to 2018 and the event is still going strong. When asked about the longevity of an event like the Piano Extravaganza, Takasawa said, “It’s a challenge but I’m extremely pleased that the audience has been supportive.” Takasawa also touched on how difficult an event like the Extravaganza can be to keep going, especially with students coming and going, finding suitable music and not playing the same songs over and over through the years.
There were many performers who played throughout the night, some even playing alongside Mr. Takasawa. The list of pianists included Nicholas Schleyer, Lauren Stelmaszczyk, Mary Kay Grout, Christine Wong, Emily Iwuc, Peter Kelmelis, Laura Weick, Kathryn Williams, Tori Delmonico and Theodore Mook playing the cello. These pianists played a very diverse selections of lush and extravagant pieces of music, including pieces from Serge Prokofiev, Friedrich Kuhlau and even the revered musician, Wolfgang Mozart.
There are plenty more events coming up in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Center including free convocations every Thursday at 12:30 p.m.. The lineup of events can be found on the URI website and tickets for these concerts can be purchased online through www.ovationtix.com or one hour before the performance in the box office of the Fine Arts Center.