Chopin’s Timeless Music Hits a High Note at the Fourth Annual Frost Chopin Festival


Pause. To play. Perfect. This year’s Frost Chopin Festival gave audiences time to reflect, extraordinary young pianists had the chance to perform, and piano maestros a platform to celebrate Chopin: the perfect virtuoso.

“Everything in the world slowly fades with time,” said Frédéeric Chopin, a French-Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. But 173 years later, his timeless music is taking center stage, most notably at this year’s fourth annual Frost Chopin Festival.

Presented by the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and the Chopin Foundation of the United States, the week-long festival [June 19 – 26] marked the most successful festival since its inception. Inspired by the music of Chopin, a genius who contributed many important works to the piano repertoire, the festival showcased 21 young pianists navigating the winding path to an international career as a concert pianist.

According to Chopin Festival Artistic Director Kevin Kenner, who is also Associate Professor of Piano at Frost, Frost’s Chopin Academy and Festival amplify a dual mission. First, to present free performances of the highest artistic standard by world-renowned pianists for the enjoyment and enrichment of the South Florida community. And second, to offer the extraordinary young artists who attend the Academy a chance to perform in concert with some of the most celebrated Chopin scholars of our time.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in master classes and workshops. This year these were taught by Kenner, along with John Rink, Ewa Poblocka and Garrick Ohlsson. Thanks to the generous support of donors, many students have received scholarships. All concerts were free and streamed live via the Frost School YouTube channel.

The festival had many highlights. At the opening concert, 18-year-old JJ Jun Li Bui dazzled the audience with a program beginning with Chopin’s Polonaise in B-flat minor. “Bui displayed technical agility, mastery of the instrument, and musicality that portends a major career,” reported Lawrence Budmen in the South Florida Classical Review. “This exceptionally gifted young musician is definitely an artist to watch as his career progresses.”

Kenner, who dedicated the festival to the people of Ukraine, created a relief fund for Ukrainian musicians to help preserve the country’s rich cultural heritage. They raised $10,406, which will directly help musicians in need.

“There are very few musicians and arts presenters who don’t feel the shame that we all feel our world can’t live in peace,” Kenner said in a recent interview with Artburst Miami. “It would have been kind of negligent of me as a musician not to react one way or another to what is happening in Ukraine.”

Two of the concerts featured some of Ukraine’s finest treasures: illustrious Ukrainian-Polish soprano Olga Pasichnyk and 16-year-old pianist Khrystyna Mykhailichenko. Pasichnyk performed twice for the Frost Chopin Festival in concert with Kenner and Ewa Pobłocka. She also joined the Academy in a workshop devoted to the lyrical influence in Chopin’s piano works.

On the closing night, four festival students, Madison Yan, Athena Deng, Da Jin Kim, and Christopher Shin opened the program at UM’s Gusman Hall with a recital that showcased the extraordinary teaching of Frost Academy. Chopin master Garrick Ohlsson, who in 1970 became the first American to win the first prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, then took to the stage and proved that he remains one of the best performers of Chopin’s works.

University of Miami alum Sonia Sixto learned about the festival through her son who signed up to buy tickets for the Wednesday night concert. “We enjoyed the show so much that we returned for the Thursday and Friday concerts,” she said in a written note to Kenner. “I wanted to congratulate you on such a magnificent festival,” she continued. “We were in awe of all the young talent, commenting that we had just watched the Music World Olympics!”


Comments are closed.