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Pianist makes encore appearance with Stow Symphony to perform Brahms First Piano Concerto

by April Helms | Special Products Editor Published: September 30, 2016 12:00 AM
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While many piano students are willing to dutifully practice their scales and assigned pieces outside of class, Paolo Tatafiore found that rather mundane.

Tatafiore, who grew up in Naples, Italy, in a household with musicians, composers and artists, said his first foray into piano came at about age 7, when an older cousin of his spotted him watching the cousin play piano.

"He taught me a pop song, with all the chords," said Tatafiore, who currently lives in Los Angeles. "I learned it in a few minutes, and since then no one could keep me away from a piano."

Formal piano lessons for Tatafiore started when he was 8, he said.

"When I was 12, 13, I was studying Chopin, Liszt and the other masters," Tatafiore said, then he smiled. "I studied them on my own. My piano teacher thought I was practicing my scales at home."

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Tatafiore's piano skills can be heard when he performs with the Stow Symphony Orchestra Oct. 8, when the symphony performs its fall concert at the Tallmadge Alliance Church. Tatafiore will be the featured pianist for the symphony's performance of Brahms' First Piano Concerto. This will be his second performance with the symphony.

Darrell Lee Music, music director and conductor, said Tatafiore "is the most gifted pianist I have ever worked with."

"His abilities at the piano are on par with the major soloists of our day," Music said. "I realize that this is a huge statement. I do not make it lightly. The Stow Symphony has had the rare privilege to have worked an artist of his stature. This is also true of our audience. It is very uncommon for an artist like this to work with a volunteer ensemble, no matter how good."

Tatafiore said that the concerto is "a very passionate piece."

"It's emotionally very evoking for the public," he said.

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Perhaps a bit too emotional for the first audiences who heard it in 1859.

"The premiere was a total fiasco," Music said. "That often happens with great pieces. People at that time weren't ready for it. Brahms composed a piece completely different for the time."

Tatafiore said that he and Music met in 2005 when they were both at a conference for the League of American Orchestras. Tatafiore had a table, where he had CDs and information on his performances and repertoire.

Music said the two started to talk and hit it off quickly. He also had the opportunity to listen to one of Tatafiore's CDs and said he was impressed with his talent.

"We listened to him perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3," Music said. "The Rach 2. No one can play that piece but he did it."

Tatafiore said he was happy to come back to Northeast Ohio.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to Stow because I miss my friends," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing and performing with my friends with the Stow Symphony Orchestra."

The concert also will feature Haydn's Symphony No. 92 in G Major and The Fugue from Charles Ives' Fourth Symphony.

The Tallmadge Alliance Church is at 1155 East Ave. in Tallmadge.

Due to limited seating, advance purchase of tickets is advisable. Tickets are available for pre-sale at www.StowOrchestra.org/tickets.htm, or by calling 330-678-0029, or in limited numbers at the door. For group rates call 330-678-0029.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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