“We’re proud to be “The Piano Festival that was Born to Be Contrary,” says Giselle Brodsky, co-founder and artistic director of the Miami International Piano Festival (MIPF). That title was bestowed on the festival in 2003 by Matthew Gurewitsch of the New York Times.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the MIPF continues its season at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19 at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center featuring Kenneth Broberg, the silver medal winner of the 2018 Van Cliburn Competition and Gold Medal winner of the 2021 American Awards, among many others.
As part of the American Pianist Awards, he released his first studio album with the Steinway & Sons label in late 2022.
“As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary, our mission is clearer, and we’re proud that we have accomplished many of our goals,” says Brodsky, a self-described free spirit, who co-founded the festival in 1997.
“We’re proud to have discovered some of the most outstanding artists from around the world, enriched our community musically and with the creation of the Piano Academy in conjunction with Nova Southeastern University, founded a mentorship program which inspires the next generation of pianists,” says Brodsky.
“Additionally, since COVID-19, we have extended our reach by going digital, guiding and enriching the lives of future emerging pianists,” says Brodsky.
With a hands-on approach and a global outlook, the 65-year-old says her vision is to have an impact not only in South Florida but on the world at large.
With a philosophy to help students find the means to support their development toward the culmination of their musical objectives, Brodsky and other faculty facilitate a nurturing, supportive musical environment where students can learn and grow musically and professionally.
All students have the possibility to interact and study with every artist in the faculty, resulting in the opportunity to study with as many as 17 other pianists and attend all their concerts.
In 2022, MIPF held its Summer Academy in Italy at Villa Medici Giulini, between Milan and Lake Como and this past summer took over the Cadet Hotel in Miami Beach, courtesy of Vilma Biaggi, a local physician who also runs the hotel.
More than 20 young pianists came to be inspired and take part in masterclasses and lectures from faculty coming from all parts of the world. Pianos were brought in to the rooms, lobby and restaurant of the hotel to create a warm, nurturing environment with music as the first language and an opportunity to exchange both music and ideas.
In a documentary clip about the academy, pianist and MIPF professor Walter Ponce says, “Here, the main element is music – the enjoyment of music.”
“For me, it’s a privilege to work with these students,” says Ponce. “They often have completely different musical views than I do, but that makes me think. A musician has to constantly try to be better, go further, go higher and for that you need stimulation and here the stimulation is wonderful.”
Next year’s winter academy will be held in January at the Cadet Hotel in Miami Beach, featuring master classes, lectures, private lessons and concerts.
She says she created a safe haven for these artists – most of them unknown - to pursue their livelihood and a place where they can share their dreams and plans and is proud and grateful that they were able to launch a number of professional careers.
She hand-picks and chooses the pianists that have performed over these past 25 years and has garnered an outstanding reputation in the classical music circles for finding and nurturing great classical pianists.
Among those artists she has discovered and promoted are: Josu de Solaun, Jorge Luis Prats, Ilya Itin, Misha Dacic, Francesco Libetta Claudio Martinez-Mehner, Walter Ponce and Avery Gagliano, who made her Carnegie Hall debut when she was 20 and Kemal Gekic.
Gekic, 61, now an artist-in residence and professor of piano at FIU, has known Brodsky for almost 25 years, when he was performing in his home country of the then-Yugoslavia.
He says Brodsky was listening to a tape of his piano playing, found it “fascinating,” and reached out to him to come to Miami for the festival in 1999. He got positive reviews from local and national reviewers and became a staple at the festival over the years.
“Giselle is a noble woman with a pure heart,” he says. “She’s a visionary, and more important, able to convey her vision to others.”
“She has a contagious enthusiasm,” he says, impressed with her ability to transform her vision into a reality. “She has the dynamism and energy to get buy-in from other like-minded artists and has developed the Miami Piano Festival into one of the premier piano festivals in the world.”
Brodsky looks for pianists who are comfortable and charismatic with audiences and able to play challenging classical masterpieces. She doesn’t care about their pedigree, saying, “We only care about how they play the piano.”
“I invite students to the academy because they are unique human beings,” she says. “They are innovators, free spirits and think outside of the box.” She listens to all their clips and if they touch her in some way, she says, “I want them here.”
“These are the types of artists I gravitate to,” Brodsky says. “You don’t have to study with an academic teacher or have a Ph.D.; it’s more important for these emerging artists to be in front of other great artists. When they are in contact with them and play for them, it’s a life changing experience.”
In addition to the Aventura series, six concerts from the Discovery Series will be held at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum in Miami Beach, with emerging musicians making their debut.
“Trust the brand,” she says. “Everyone we select will impact your life. We take great pride in selecting our students.”
For information on the full season and tickets, visit www.miamipianofest.com.
Classical Sundays at Five - Opening Night – October 22 at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188th St, Miami
Tel: (305) 466-8002
- Nov 19 – Kenneth Broberg
- Jan. 7 – Chelsea Guo
- Feb. 25 – Aristo Sham
- March 24 – Kemal Gekic
- April 28 – Albert Cano Smit
- May 19 – Avery Gagliano
All concerts start at 5 p.m.
Discovery Series at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. All concerts start at 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 27 – Jacob Mason
- Jan. 28 – Illia Ovcharenko
- March 9 – Cristian Budu
- March 10 – Sergey Belyavsky
- April 13 – Wouter Valvekens
- April 14 – Anthony Ratinov
The MIPFA is also presenting a series of SEVEN consecutive recitals January 3 – 9 at the Miami Beach Women’s Club as part of the MIPFA Winter Program in Miami Beach, sponsored by the City of Miami Beach and the Cadet Hotel. The Women’s Club is located at 2401 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach. All recitals are at 7 p.m.