2003 IBLA Awards
A Celebration of Talent

It comes as no surprise that as the IBLA Foundation continues its important work, stepping outside the boundaries of the "standard recognition" of the classical music world, that this 2003 presentation of the IBLA Awards showcased a host of extraordinary talent.

After a deeply soulful and introspective rendition of "Amazing Grace," arranged and performed by Alan Storeygaard, MD as a musical introduction, soprano Marie Betcher and baritone Leonard Rowe presented to the full audience of Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall "The Star-Spangled Banner" with dignity, triumph and heartfelt musicality.

The ensuing IBLA Award Winner's recital program comprised a host of wonderful artists from around the globe, with engaging and diverse repertoire:

Bach's "Goldberg Variations" were performed by the bold Italian pianist Gianfranco Pappalardo, IBLA Bach Award recipient. He allowed for broad tempi that projected wonderful shades of nuance and rich lyricism as well as a strong, staunch sense of definition.

Hungarian pianist Tamas Erdi, IBLA Special Mention recipient, presented a direct, simple and un-mannered musical and finessed performance of the "Allegro" from Sonata in B flat major, K. 333 of Mozart.

The Croation flutist Dive Franetovic, IBLA Mozart Special Mention recipient, played the "Adagio" from Flute Concerto in D major, K. 314 of Mozart, with a moving and delicate sense of musical phrasing.

Audiences were certainly stirred and exhilarated by the next performer, Mr. Michael Barimo of the USA, IBLA Bellini Award recipient, during his demonically meticulous and musical rendition of "The Vengeance Aria" from The Magic Flute by Mozart.

Baritone Leonard Rowe, IBLA Bellini Award recipient, then returned to the stage for an extremely profound and deeply moving "I've Got Plenty Of Nothing" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. His rich, full sound and character sparkled with intelligence and wit.

Demonic again was Japanese pianist Yoshikazu Nagai, IBLA Liszt Award recipient, in his "Mephisto Waltz No. 1." Though perhaps choosing not to emphasize the overtly devilish aspects of the score, his performance was marked by a ferocious intensity and concentration throughout.

Further south again to Venezia and Napoli for British pianist Daniel Becker, IBLA Special Mention recipient, and his performance of "Tarantella" from Liszt's "Les Années de pelerinage." Becker displayed a consistent intelligence and un-affected sense of time and drama, with a rich display of color, agile technique and imagination for shading and texture.

The first half concluded with the piano duo of Israeli pianist Yuval Admony and Japanese Tami Kanazawa in an interpretation of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 that leaned towards the serene and lyrical, and erupted with a cheerful and jocular coda.

After the intermission, Italian pianist Andrea Turini, IBLA Bach Award recipient, was at the keyboard for an able, self-confident and at times aptly assertive vision of Bach's Sarabanda-Doube-Gigue from the English Suite. No. 6 BWV 811, one that also allowed the richly-textured counterpoint to emerge.

Japanese Kaoru Yamamura, IBLA Mussorgsky Award recipient, followed with excerpts from "Pictures at an Exhibition" that displayed a massive sound, even tastefully brutal, with powerful and great pacing.

Korean violinist Ji Hwa Lee, IBLA Szymanowski Award recipient, presented excerpts from Szymanowski's Concerto No. 1, Opus 35. She has a splendid silvery tone, lyrical and assured, that revealed the unique poetic dimension of the composer's idiom.

A change of pace was clearly evident in Katie Frank's choice of repertoire, (USA, IBLA Young Talent Special Mention recipient) as she played Billy Joel's "Invention in C minor," a suitable vehicle for her charming and dynamic musical talents.

The powerhouse virtuosic whistler from the 1st half was back again, this time for "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess by Gershwin. What else can be said except that not only does this great musician possess musical and technical skills that would leave any singer or instrumentalist envious, but also has more than ample stage presence and charm in spades!

Soprano Marie Betcher and baritone Leonard Rowe were then back for "Bess, you is my Woman Now," also from Porgy and Bess, in a performance that was richly communicative and touching, with great musical exchange between the two.

It should certainly be said that in this work as in all the others with accompaniment, that pianist Christopher Cooley performed with sensitivity, support and all the musical acumen that any soloist could hope for in a pianist.

The recital portion of the program concluded with excerpts from the Piano Sonata of Samuel Barber by the American Christopher Atzinger, IBLA Barber Award recipient. Atzinger was well-suited to this work, providing all the weight, power and exuberant sound that the composition demands, especially in the extraordinary energy and climax of the final movement, which he delivered with a marked confidence.

At the conclusion of this remarkable evening of fresh artistic hope, the talented artists recognized by the 2003 IBLA Awards were saluted by the children of New York City in a rousing and closing performance of the "Overture and Minuet" from the Royal Fireworks of Handel and the "Boogie Woogie Blues," rendered by St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's Brass Band, Brian Worsdale, director.