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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

Piano star to make her Peristyle debut

BY SALLY VALLONGO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ingrid Fliter performs with the Toledo Symphony in Classics VI concerts at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, 2445 Monroe St. Tickets, $20 to $47, are available at www.toledosymphony.com or by phone, 419-246-8000.
Ingrid Fliter performs with the Toledo Symphony in Classics VI concerts at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, 2445 Monroe St. Tickets, $20 to $47, are available at www.toledosymphony.com or by phone, 419-246-8000.
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Remember this name: Ingrid Fliter.

That's FLEET-er, as in fingers flying faster over the piano keyboard than the ear can track.

Because Fliter, who is to make her Peristyle debut with the Toledo Symphony in its Classics VI concerts at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, is at the most exciting point of her career trajectory. The latest winner of the Gilmore Artist Award, she is appearing more frequently on U.S. stages, although she's still far better known in Europe and Asia. But not for long.

Since winning the 2006 award, which is organized much like the MacArthur Grants in that contestants are unaware they are being considered, Fliter, who will turn 34 in 2007, has begun playing concerts around this country, always to rave reviews.

She'll play Toledo before she debuts in some of the major cities on her 2007 tour.

Even better, Fliter is to perform Piano Concerto No. 2 by her favorite composer, Frederic Chopin. And Stefan Sanderling will return to town to conduct.

For the Argentina-born musician, this year is a dream come true. She was notified in January, 2006, of her award. "It was absolutely unexpected, one of most wonderful and marvelous surprises of my life," she said earlier this month from her home in Milan, Italy.

"I never thought it could happen to me - never. I didn't know how it worked. I thought that this was only possible for people who were already well known."

Much to the contrary, this $300,000 award established in honor of Irving S. Gilmore of Kalamazoo, Mich., is given once every four years to "an international pianist of any age and nationality who is deemed worthy of a global career. The award recognizes extraordinary artistry with the most generous financial support given in the musical arts."

What is also distinctive about this award is that winning is based on no single competition but rather - and in the unassuming spirit of Gilmore - nominees are tracked by live and recorded performance over several years by a judging committee.

What Fliter likes particularly about the Gilmore prize is this: "It was recognition of how I play with an orchestra instead of before a jury. If a young person takes part in competition, it's valuable, but it's not the ideal way of judging or listening to an artist."

Fliter, born in Buenos Aires to a family of musical enthusiasts - though not professionals - has experience of the nerve-wracking contest kind already.

As a teenager, she was discovered by Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, who arranged for her debut with the Buenos Aires orchestra at age 16 in the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires' famous opera house.

Earlier, she won two piano competitions in one day, Fliter recalled.

Urged to develop her talent by Argerich, she spent a year studying in Germany, then returned, homesick, to her family at age 18. Not long after, however, an invitation from Roman pianist and chamber music pedagogue Carlo Bruno drew her across the Atlantic again. She took second place in a major European Chopin competition in Warsaw, won both the Cantu and Busoni contests in Italy, and her career star began to rise.

She has performed in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and on stages in Budapest, St. Petersburg, Russia; the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles; and the Caramoor Festival outside New York City.

Today, after a decade in Italy - still the only family member living abroad - she calls Milan, "my second home," answering the telephone "Pronto," Her days are spent practicing, studying new music, and maintaining tiptop physical condition.

"I try to share practicing time between new music and concert repertoire," Fliter said. Between concerts and tours, she learns new works, right now Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2, and music by Piazzolla and Ravel.

Learning something new, she says, "Is a process of becoming acquainted by living together, day by day, discovering and exploring. It's very important to have a base of cordiality, love, and patience."

The Classics concerts will open with Smetana's tone poem, "The Moldau," and draw to a riotous conclusion with Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring."

Ingrid Fliter performs with the Toledo Symphony in Classics VI concerts at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, 2445 Monroe St. Tickets, $20 to $47, are available at www.toledosymphony.com or by phone, 419-246-8000.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.



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