POSTCARDS FROM ITALY: A Visit to the Fazioli Factory and time in Venice

(L to R) Jim Stringer, Ellen Bucek, Carole Alexander, Paolo Fazioli, Jonathan Ferrucci, Dan Wasil, Ellen Bergstone Wasil, Luca Fazioli, Michael McCulloch and Maryellen Hockensmith.

(L to R) Jim Stringer, Ellen Bucek, Carole Alexander, Paolo Fazioli, Jonathan Ferrucci, Dan Wasil, Ellen Bergstone Wasil, Luca Fazioli, Michael McCulloch and Maryellen Hockensmith.

Since the fall, Portland Piano International has been promoting a one-of-a-kind trip to Italy. The primary purpose of our excursion was to experience the renowned Trasimeno Music Festival, curated by founder and artistic director Angela Hewitt. But first, we had three days in and around Venice. The highlight of that portion of the trip was a private tour of the Fazioli Factory in the small city of Sacile.

We were greeted by founder Paolo Fazioli along with his son, Luca, and his colleague, Elena. Luca led us through an amazing 2-hour tour of the factory.

It is immediately clear why these pianos are so special. The process is meticulous and each person in the factory is an artisan! Once the initial curing of the wood takes place, it takes another 2-1/2 years to complete one piano. The total number of pianos created per year is only 140.

We were, of course, not able to take photos in the factory, but we were able to view every step of the process - from the glueing of multiple layers of mahogany and maple to create the two cases … to the building of the interior structure … to the creation and shaping of the spruce soundboard … to the joining of the iron frame to the soundboard … to the final finishes, stringing and installation of the keyboard action. The amount of work and care is truly amazing and the factory is spacious, light and surprisingly pristine.

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The end of our visit was capped by an inspiring performance in the beautiful Fazioli concert hall by Jonathan Ferrucci, our Rising Star from this past April and a past performer at the Trasimeno Music Festival. Jonathan is a native of Florence, but is currently living in London. His private performance for us included beautiful interpretations of works by Bach, Bartok, and Chopin.

Some of our group was able to visit the Venice Biennale, one of the most celebrated art exhibitions in the world. This year the Biennale began on May 11 and it continues until November 24. With the temperature above 100, random cool spaces were welcomed, and the Biennale is clearly an entrenched part of the Venice culture. The ancient and modern coexist connected by the sea, the canals and the food!

Michael McCulloch and Maryellen Hockensmith next to one of the Biennial sculptures. The theme of the exhibition this year is “May You Live in Interesting Times”.

Michael McCulloch and Maryellen Hockensmith next to one of the Biennial sculptures. The theme of the exhibition this year is “May You Live in Interesting Times”.

A view of a gondolier in a side canal

A view of a gondolier in a side canal

Glass blowing on Murano

Glass blowing on Murano

A view from the private watertax along the Grand Canal

A view from the private watertax along the Grand Canal







Angela Hewitt: An Audience Perspective

Portland Piano International’s 2018-19 season ended with the return of Angela Hewitt to the Lincoln Hall stage, a much-anticipated event for many in Portland. She is much beloved by this city – and she loves us back – and Portland responded to her arrival with a full house. Her recitals were on the evening of Friday, May 3 and the afternoon of Sunday, May 5, with programs dedicated entirely to the music of JS Bach; Angela is considered one of the most prominent Bach interpreters on the piano.

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