Tuesday, January 3, 2017

El Paso: Chopin Piano Festival


Eric Zuber, 2016 El Paso Chopin Piano Festival

September and October 2016

I attended all three of the Chopin performances. OK, full disclosure: I left during intermission at the final performance.

Alright, let's just get to the truth of things for me.


Alex Beyer performs Chopin's Scherzo No 2, Op 31, in 2014:




I feel only tepid about Chopin. Yes, there were moments here and there when I sat up straighter in my seat, leaned forward, and felt almost grabbed, but the feeling of almost was as far as it went, and I slumped back into the dutiful attempt of reaching a better appreciation of a composer I should probably like more.



 Eric Zuber performs Chopin's Etudes, Op 10, in 2012:




With that bit of awkardness out of the way, let me share all that I liked about the festival.
  • Free! Holy smokes, such a great exposure to classical music that is available to all of us, regardless of means. 
  • The venue - Chamizal National Memorial - a beautiful place that honors El Paso's intercultural history and arts. 


Chamizal Memorial, El Paso, Texas

  • The tidbits about Chopin's life and the backstory of various pieces. The grande dame of the festival, Lucy Scarbrough, was the most generous with details about Chopin's life. Alex Beyer, the youngest of the three pianists, shared the most interesting backstories about the works he performed. 
  • The pre-concert quartet, which played in the lobby at all three of the performances, offered a lovely, lovely aperitif for us line-standers to enjoy until the theater doors opened.   

Listen to the quartet here, with a little dancing lagniappe from "Mr. Chopin" and a partner:

  • Ms. Scarbrough invited anyone in the audience to come along with her and her party to dinner at an El Paso restaurant after the concert - that impressed the hell out of me. 
  • Mr. Zuber and Mr. Beyer each received a kick-ass cowboy hat as an El Paso thanks for participating in the festival.

Quartet that played before each Chopin performance, 2016 El Paso Chopin Piano Festival



Lucy Scarbrough performs Chopin's Prelude Op 20 in 2016:



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