Piano extraordinaire brings passion to master class


Yemi Falodun | Staff Writer

“During the lesson, I want a lot of electricity. In other words, nobody should be asleep,” said Italian pianist Enrico Elisi.

His words were fireworks of rousing wisdom, sparking imagination with ease, as his suave tone delved deeper into music, life and love. Those three elements are the cornerstones of Elisi’s guest piano master class, which runs 7–8:30 p.m. tonight at the Sherwood-Marsh Studios.

“You can only work hard if you truly love what you work on,” said Elisi, the 40-year-old celebrated pianist and Chautauqua guest maestro.

For the coming weeks, he will mold and refine a fortunate batch of gifted pianists.

Elisi is an associate professor of piano at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. But he is also a nomadic talent who has captivated diverse audiences all over the world. In the past two weeks, he has been on a journey from China to Texas, dazzling in festivals and concerts alike. Put simply, where there is music, Elisi is there.

“I think what amazes me is the mileage program,” Elisi said. The high-energy man of 88 keys seems to carry an electric aura everywhere he goes. Audiences cannot help but feel his zest for life and music, on or off the piano.

“Without love, your music can die easily,” he said. “So, I think the passion for the arts has really a lot to do with the subject that you fell deeply in love with and you continue to be inspired by.”

Elisi’s unmatched devotion can seem intimidating to an outsider, but he is certain his students will embrace and cherish his dynamic style.

“The kids have to be on their toes,” Elisi said. “They have to be able, in that moment, to really make a big step and big change — I’m not happy with a small change. Then, after they are done with the lesson, they can figure whether that change was meaningful. That is their choice; that is the beautiful thing.”

Elisi returns to the Institution to refresh his body and mind after traveling, as he encourages a room of enthusiastic ears looking to indulge in his tangible wisdom this summer.

“In Chautauqua, the time stops,” he said. “It really allows you to do what you love the most without looking at the clock. It allows you to be free.”

Admission to today’s master classes is $5