Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TOP STORY >> Concert series marks 10th year

Leader staff writer

The 10th annual IBLA Grand Prize Concert in Jacksonville will feature 12 internationally renowned musicians from six countries.

It is set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 8 at First United Methodist Church, 308 W. Main St. The concert is free to the public.

A second performance will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 9 at the Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main St. in North Little Rock. For more information, call 501-353-1443.

It is the 15th year of the competition’s winners coming to play for Arkansas crowds, according to Sherman Banks.

He organizes the Jackson-ville event with two locals, 2002 IBLA winner Dr. Alan Storeygard and patron of the arts Joan Zumwalt.

Musicians slated to dazzle this year are Italian soprano singer Francesca Adamo, Italian guitarist Alessandro Blanco, Italian guitarist Giuseppe Sinacori, Italian Jazz pianist Giuseppe Blanco, Italian cellist Luca Giovannini, Italian violinist Andrea Tim-panaro, Japanese pianist Miwa Hoyano, South Korean pianist Cho Hyun Park, who lives in the United States; French soprano singer Elsa Roux Chamoux, Polish pianist Anna Rutkowska-Schock, pianist Nanke Flach and lame sonore player Annette Scholten, both of Holland.

Storeygard said he would join the winners on their statewide tour. He’ll perform his original Jazz composition, “Thank You, Mr. Brubeck,” with Dave Rogers on drums, Danny Fletcher on guitar and Rick Russenberger on bass at the Jacksonville and North Little Rock concerts.

The 2014 IBLA winners will hold concerts all over Arkansas the week of May 4-10 and then perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Of the Jacksonville visit, Storeygard said, “It’s just an outstanding concert…It is music that you would not necessarily hear every day.”

He described it as very high-quality classical music, noting that a Carnegie Hall concert with the same performers would cost at least $200 per ticket to attend.

Storeygard also said the IBLA competition gave him the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall.

He continued, “It’s important for what they can bring, but also for them to have the connection with us. The hospitality of Arkansas is taken back (to their countries).”

About hitting the 10-year mark in Jacksonville, Storeygard noted, “We hoped it would be (this successful)…I think it’s a really good thing.”

Zumwalt said, “It is a world-class talent concert. It’s a wonderful opportunity.

“We’re very proud to have them here. I can’t believe that much time has passed so quickly...It’s always been well received here in Jacksonville. People say they enjoy it and look forward to it. We hope to continue on.”

Storeygard added, “It’s fun for me. It is a milestone, I hope (the concert) keeps coming…Every year is different; you never know who is going to come.”

The church can hold 600 people, and organizers want to fill all of those seats.

Storeygard also noted that Jacksonville is the only place in the world where such a performance is recorded on a DVD.

He and Banks emphasized that the IBLA competition is open to all ages.

Storeygard said very young prodigies, including a 9-year-old featured in last year’s soiree, are often winners.

Banks said the musicians are of a “world-class” caliber and can be quite young or as old as 60, depending on their ability to continue excelling at their craft.

“I look forward to bringing them here every year,” he continued. “It’s a delight to have them here and have the kids exposed...These individuals, in their own countries, are professionals.”

He added that many of the performances scheduled for the state would be held at schools.

Storeygard and Zumwalt said the IBLA winners would play for thousands of students.

Zumwalt added that Gwatney Chevrolet provides vans to take the performers all over Arkansas.

The IBLA International Music Competition, held in Sicily each year, invites outstanding classical musicians around the world to play.

The Leader reported previously that the focus is not really to compete against their contemporaries but rather against the highest professional standard, according to acclaimed pianist Dr. Salvatore Moltisanti. He founded the event.