SAN ANTONIO – This week, you can see world renown pianists performing in free or very affordable concerts right here in San Antonio at the Gurwitz 2020 International Piano competition. The non-profit, Musical Bridges Around the World, is hosting the competition, with 12 contestants from six different countries. It’s part of the group’s mission to expose culture and music to local students and the community.
Anna Gershtein is one of the top emerging pianist in the world from Russia. The 31-year-old made it into the final 12 competitors in the Gurwitz 2020 International Piano competition.
“I was five which is pretty common age in Russia for kids to start,” Gershtein said. Her love for playing the piano started when she heard her older sister playing an iconic Chopin piece.
CEO Anya Grokhovski of Musical Bridges Around the World says the competition does exactly what their non-profit aims to do—bring diverse cultures together through music.
“Our mission is to transform life through music, through cultural diversity, through the arts will bring people together from different cultures,” Grokhovski said.
Anna said while staying in San Antonio she met a 14-year-old pianist that she connected with instantly, through the universal language of music.
“It’s amazing that we can understand each other with those people so well,” Anna said. “Sometimes you can’t understand and you can’t feel this close to someone from your own country.” Despite beating out over 70 contestants to land a spot in the Gurwitz competition (where the top winner takes home $25,000) Anna says she still plays for fleeting musical moments.
“Sometimes there are these wonderful moments on stage when you feel a connection with the audience or you just feel like you play for everybody or for nobody you just play,” she said.
The competition will run through Saturday night. The final night will have three competitors at the Tobin Center, with David Robinson being the honorary chair of the event.
Below is the schedule of the Gurwitz Competition:
January 30: Festival Concert featuring international jazz pianist Hiromi of Japan, 7 p.m. Empire Theatre, 226 N. St. Mary’s St.
January 31: Round 3, World Music Round, featuring guest artists from Silk Road Ensemble perform with the three remaining finalists. This round will be dedicated to Charline McCombs, 7 p.m. Empire Theatre, 226 N. St. Mary’s St.
February 1: Round 4, Grand Finale, 7 p.m. H-E-B Performance Hall, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle. Performance by three finalists of select piano concerto with the San Antonio Symphony.
February 2: Gurwitz Awards Brunch, 11 a.m. St. Anthony Hotel, 300 E. Travis St. Awards are presented along with a performance by three Gurwitz medalists on a historical Louis XV style Steinway piano in the Peacock Lounge. Tickets are $75.
All competition rounds and concerts are free except the Grand Finale performance with the San Antonio Symphony. For tickets and schedule details, www.thegurwitz.org.