On January 8, 2015, multiple Grammy nominated pianist, Dr. Allison Brewster Franzetti, opened JSU’s eighth annual Foothills Piano Festival in the Mason Hall Performance Center. Organized by Dr. Wendy Freeland of the music department, the Foothills Piano Festival is an annual event consisting of three to four piano recitals over the course of the year.
“I like to feature the piano in several ways,” said Freeland, “sometimes a traditional recital, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes jazz piano, and I like to bring in featured pianists from outside as well as some of the great pianists from Alabama.”
Dr. Brewster Franzetti is a native of New York City. She is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, the Julliard School, and Rutgers University and has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards over her career. She has graced prestigious stages around the world, such as the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Wigmore Hall in London, and Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City both as a soloist and as a member of various orchestras. Dr. Brewster Franzetti currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Young Artists Program and the Coordinator of Adult Chamber Music at Rutgers University and serves on the Arts High advisory board in Newark, New Jersey.
“[I’ve been playing piano] since I was two,” Franzetti said. “My parents got a piano, and I sat down and learned how to play it. I never did the baby thing. I have perfect pitch. I could play things by ear, in any key—major, minor, it didn’t matter. And my grandmother taught piano. She and my mother took me for a consultation at Julliard when I was six, but I didn’t make the decision that this was what I wanted to do until I was sixteen.”
Brewster Franzetti’s program for the night included “Four Impromptus” by Franz Schubert and “Images” by Claude Debussy as well as a duet with Dr. Jeremy Benson, Professor of Flute and Music History Studies at JSU, whom she befriended while attending the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.
“When you’re actually performing, there’s an energy flow; you’re giving energy to the audience, but they’re giving energy to you,” said Franzetti. “It’s kind of symbiotic. It’s an amazing feeling doing something you’ve worked so hard on but at the same time feels like you’re doing it for the first time.”
Dr. Freeland believes that events such as this are instrumental in grooming young musicians and the community as a whole.
“I do it to expose people to classical piano music. I think the ‘ew’ factor fades away after you’re exposed. And I do it because I believe in performance. I’m a regular performer, and I want college pianists to hear and experience other performers.”
The next performance of the Foothills Piano Festival is scheduled for April 2, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mason Hall Performance Center.