Summer Festival | Public Relations
July 10, 2017
Hotchkiss Summer Portals Piano Program Celebrates Five Years

On July 22, 2017, the talented young students of the Hotchkiss School Summer Portals Piano Program will perform a fifth-anniversary gala performance in honor of Hotchkiss School former Chairman and Board Member Frederick Frank (class of 1950) and Mary Tanner Frank. Featuring celebrated international pianists, Hotchkiss Piano Program Director Fabio Witkowski and Resident Piano Faculty Gisele Nacif Witkowski, and the “powerhouse of American chamber music for more than six decades” (Washington Post) Fine Arts Quartet - violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Gil Sharon, and cellist Niklas Schmidt - the rich program comprises Haydn’s The Lark String Quartet in D Major, and Robert Schumann’s E-flat Major Piano Quartet and E-flat Major Piano Quintet.    

Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Katherine M. Elfers Hall
Esther Eastman Music Center
Hotchkiss School 
Lakeville, CT

Fabio Witkowski, piano
Gisele Nacif Witkowski, piano
Fine Arts Quartet         
Ralph Evans
, violin         
Efim Boico
, violin         
Gil Sharon
, viola         
Niklas Schmidt
, cello  

HAYDN String Quartet in D Major, Op. 64 No. 5 (The Lark)
SCHUMANN Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44  

The Hotchkiss School recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and remains one of the most lauded educational institutions on the East Coast.  For the past 15 years, the Summer Portals program, a nonprofit under the auspices of The Hotchkiss School, has offered highly intensive training to uniquely gifted and dedicated young students between 6th and 12th grades from around the world in a variety of specialized subjects, from DNA Science to Documentary Film, American Literature and Theater to Robotics, and beyond. The two-week Piano Program, now in its fifth year, satisfies the great demand for outstanding musical leadership in a community which places advanced music education at the same level of importance as STEM subjects, literature, and the humanities.  Dean of Summer Programs, Stephen McKibbon states, “Complementing the mission and values of The Hotchkiss School, Portals provides distinctive educational opportunities for students through immersion in programs such as Environmental Science, Software Engineering, Astronomy, Speech and Debate, and Piano‚Äč. Living together in dormitories with peers from around the country and globe, students pursue their passions, learn from extraordinary faculty, and make lifelong friends."  

Frederick Frank and Mary Tanner Frank share this sentiment about the value of offering exceptionally bright, highly driven young students the opportunity to experience conservatory-level training with fine professional artists and pedagogues. “The goal of the Piano Portals program is that the intellectual demands and self-discipline required for classical music and confidence needed for successful live performance becomes a character-building experience for students of this age, between 6th and 12th grades, no matter what career path they choose to pursue later in life. Frederick Frank and I are honored to be part of this program and its Mission of providing exceptionally talented, bright, and motivated young people the kind of intensive learning environment in which they thrive,” remarks Mary Tanner Frank.    

Over the past five years, the Piano Portals program has accepted young pianists solely on the basis of merit from 15 countries across North and South America, Asia, and Europe, engaging a diverse group of exceptionally musical young people and building a truly uncommon community of learning, encouragement, and friendship.  Each year, an increasing number of applicants compete for a limited amount of space via the Summer Portals standard application process as well as a recorded audition; for the 2017 Piano Portals session, 30 students were selected for admission from a pool of approximately 250 applicants.

The Piano Portals program welcomes extremely gifted students who play at an exceptional level while maintaining its focus on developing a lasting love for piano playing, regardless of the student’s future ambitions. Though many students continue their piano studies to college or conservatory with the goal of pursuing a career in piano performance, the program is also fully committed to accepting students who, in addition to their serious passion for piano, ultimately intend to follow a non-musical path,” said Fabio Witkowski and Gisele Nacif Witkowski.  “The Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals program's collaborative, non-competitive learning environment cultivates the technical and creative skills essential to the study of classical repertoire while instilling a lifelong joy in music-making.” Singularly equipped to cater to some of the brightest young pianists and scholars in a formative period of life, Hotchkiss Summer Piano Portals students are provided one of the most memorable, enlightening, and enjoyable experiences leading into higher education years and adulthood.  

Fabio Witkowski, Piano Program Director
Gisele Nacif Witkowski
Luiz de Moura Castro
Benjamin Loh
John Perry
Mina Perry
Oxana Yablonskaya

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