International piano festival, competition Minerbio (Bologna)


Where is  Minerbio?  in Italy? for sure,  if they mention Bologna.

So, we look up Emilia-Romagna;  Minerbio "piccolo paese" 9000 souls.

International piano competition in a little town numbering ?? 9000 habitants?

We arrived to Bologna with the Freccia Rosa of course after delays, misplacements,  misinformation all with a relaxed tone; don't worry you'll get to Bologna.


Which we did, and to Minerbio too with a taxi.

So, there is a competition, there are performance halls:  a theater and a  chiesina (diminutive of Chiesa) with amazing old paintings,  a  valuable large painting of Christ being taken off the cross...  the painting is hidden/spoiled by water dust fungus and restored could probably finance the coming competitions /festivals.

There are two restaurants,   and the local cuisine is loyal to the renomee  the  Emilia-Romagna has as being the best cuisine in Italy.

There are concert grand pianos where participants get 1 and a half-hour of practice scattered around town just like in the big festivals of Aspen and Verbier.

And here is the miracle;  there are 108  candidates (That's right, 108)  mostly from Italy of course but also from Korea (!),  Check Republic, Croatia, Poland, Germany, etc.

And there is a respectable jury of 6 known pianist-pedagogues and there is surtout Luisa Grillo.

Luisa Grillo is a handsome statuesque Italian alla Sophia Loren..  She has reinvented the festival which has started 20 years ago but  then  withered   and  was  brought  back to  life  by Luisa  and  her   group of  volunteers

The structure,   the  program, the  candidates, the  jury, the  volunteers, the  banks, the  surrounding  contributing  5  towns  everything  was/  is  the  work of  Luisa  who is  running  the

show with a firm hand

There   are   two  rounds   and      four days  of    competing      the  jury is sitting  in the  balcony and  shows a predilection for    refined non-banging pianists

The bravura pianists some of them really high tech will take home their interpretation of Chopin Liszt and Beethoven for rethinking refining and polishing ( no pun intended)to the next competition ( 120 in Italy ).

Haydn, Scarlatti, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov, get all played, there is little French music and thank God no contemporary music.

In the evening we are taken to the town of  Burdio where a water tower was transformed in a music hall,  another evening was spent in  Castenato where the local Cultural director delivers an emotional speech of thanks to us and the full hall..

She is seconded by the vice mayor a good-looking George Clooney alike who during the day is involved with more serious business also working overtime as the main player in the local soccer team.

The last day there are a lot of prizes,   diplomas and even checks!  distributed to the winners, picture taking short speeches

(Bravo Luisa)

Absolute first prize was Leonardo Merlini student of Alessandro Gagliardi. The Korean student SooHyun Park, student of Ilana Vered, was absolute first prize winner in her category.

Four intense days of music by 108 competitors going from youngsters 5 years old; the youngest one 5 had to be shown by Mama where the keys of the piano were and then delivered a delightful sonatina to seniors 25 years old who knew where the keyboard was.

All this in the midst of the Pianura Emiliana sort of Italian Midwest,  of smaller size, surrounded by giant Bologna, Ferrara,  Padova all bereft of a real piano festival /competition.

The international piano competition will put  Minerbio /Bologna,  on the musical and touristic map,   and Luisa Grillo amidst important music managers.

Peter Hermes