Since 1984, the University of Houston has been a hub for breathtaking recitals and master classes by the world’s top pianists. Each year, the International Piano Festival brings master musicians to campus to entertain audiences and educate young pianists.
Credit this annual extravaganza to the event’s founder Abbey Simon, UH distinguished professor of piano. At age 89, the legendary concert pianist is the festival’s cornerstone. Simon handpicks the festival’s guest musicians, and his performances are among the event’s highlights.
“When the festival first started, I was able to convince many of my pianist friends to come here,” he said. “Lo and behold, that first festival was a sell out! To this day, it continues to be very popular.”
This year, Markus Groh and Alberto Reyes will join Simon at this year’s festival, which runs Feb. 3 – 5. Recitals will be performed in the Moores Opera House, and master classes will be conducted in UH’s Dudley Recital Hall. Festival tickets can be purchased at the Moores Opera House box office or reserved by calling 713-743-3313. Prices are as follows:
- Recitals only - $60, $35 for students and seniors
- Recitals and master classes - $85, $45 for students and seniors
- Single recitals - $25, $15 for students and seniors
- Single master classes - $10, $5 for students and seniors
- Artist conversations luncheon (12:30 p.m., Feb. 4) - $15
A child prodigy, Simon began playing the piano when he was 3 years old. He heard music on the radio, then replicated the sounds on a nearby piano. Since then, Simon has tirelessly worked to create music. Trained by virtuoso composer Josef Hofmann, Simon became one of the world’s top concert pianists. In 1977, he joined the faculty at UH and holds the title of Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Distinguised Professor of Music.
Born in Germany, Groh’s reputation as a pianist extends across the globe. In 1990, he took first prize at the Arthur Schnabel Competition in Berlin. Five year later, Groh became the first German to earn top honors at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He’s performed with symphony orchestras in Baltimore, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, Fort Worth, Beijing, Berlin, Budapest, London and others. In 2006, his recording of Liszt compositions “B-A-C-H, Totentanz, Sonata in B minor” was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone magazine.
Reyes hails from Uruguay, where he performed his first recital at age 8. Five years later, the prodigy would deliver his first concert performance as a soloist. During his career, Reyes has dominated noted competitions including Van Cliburn, Leventritt, Tchaikovsky and Rio de Janeiro. In 1976, he accepted the position of interpreter for the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly. The full-time job limited his concerts, but he still found time to deliver show-stopping performances. Reyes’ can be sampled on critically lauded recordings for VAI Audio – “Alberto Reyes Plays Schumann” and “Alberto Reyes Plays Chopin.”
A schedule of recitals and master classes is as follows:
Recitals – Moores Opera House
- Abbey Simon: 7:30 p.m., Feb. 3
- Markus Groh: 7:30 p.m., Feb. 4
- Alberto Reyes: 3 p.m., Feb. 5
Master Classes – Dudley Recital Hall
- Alberto Reyes: 9 a.m., Feb. 4
- Abbey Simon: 2 p.m., Feb. 4
- Markus Groh: 11:30 a.m., Feb. 5
For complete IPF details, visit http://www.music.uh.edu/pianofestival/.