The University of Rhode Island’s music department will be hosting the “Piano Extravaganza! 2017” On April 1 and April 4. The event will feature piano performances by student and faculty pianists at URI and young honors students.

“The idea of a festival was formed when our second Steinway concert grand piano arrived on campus,” said Piano Professor Manabu Takasawa, recalling the initiation of this event. “I wanted to showcase these instruments to share them with our community, so I organized a concert in 2003. This is the 15th year, and we have invited guest pianists from the U.S., UK, Italy and Japan.”

The first event in the piano extravaganza series took place on March 25, in URI’s Fine Arts concert hall. The evening featured famous music pieces, including a performance by world-renowned concert soloist, Kenneth Hamilton.

The New York Times described Hamilton as “a performer full of energy and wit.” He has frequently appeared on radio and television in Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Turkey, China and Russia. Recently, he performed as a soloist at Frédéric Chopin’s first piano concerto on Turkish television.

Before the start of every performance, Hamilton interacts with the audience by giving them information about the background and setting of the pieces that he would perform. He also explained how the music mimicked the action of the story. This helped to enhance the listening experience for the audience and would set the tone for the performances that would follow.  

The evening began with the performance of three Scottish ballads by Ronald Stevenson, after which an impressive performance of Chopin’s Sonata No.3 took place. A small intermission followed the two performances.

The second half of the evening began with the performances of L’isle joyeuse (The isle of joy) by Claude Debussy and Leise flehen meine lieder (My songs beckon softly) by Franz Schubert. Two legends by Franz Liszt served as the last performance of the evening.

After the end of his performance, Hamilton’s brilliant execution of the musical pieces received thunderous applause from the audience, and as an encore, he performed a snippet of one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works.

Tickets for concerts can be purchased up to one hour before the performance at the box office. General admission is $12; students and seniors $7 and children 12 and under are free.