Twelve Year Old Bethel Middle School Student Gia Antolini Wins Chopin Piano Competition for the 2nd Year in a Row

Bethel Middle School student excels in Suzuki classical piano and BMS classical violin, wins Chopin piano competition and is chosen to participate in Fairfield County String Festival 2013.

Story and Photos by Paula Antolini

Bethel resident Gia Antolini, age 12, won the Bethel Middle School Chopin Piano Competition held on March 1, 2013 at Bethel High School.  This is the second year in a row Antolini has won.

Students from 6th, 7th and 8th grades were allowed to compete and most had formal piano lessons for years, although not a requirement for entry. Students were given the same mandatory Chopin piece to learn in only a few months and they were also able to choose a second selection of classical music of their own to perform for the competition. Gia performed “Chopin Prelude Op. 28 No. 7″ by Frederic Chopin, and also “Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 3” by Muzio Clementi. (Last year was “Chopin Prelude Op. 28 No. 20″ by Frederic Chopin, and also “Sonatina in C Major, Op. 55, No. 1).

Gia has studied classical piano for the last eight years at the Suzuki Talent Education School in Newtown, CT, under instructors Mr. Paul Malyszka and Ms. Helen Malyszka.  Gia is also in the Middle school 7th grade orchestra and performs on violin, and has also accompanied the orchestra on piano. She started playing violin in fourth and fifth grade, instructed by Dr. Linda Ciacchi, at the Bethel R.M.T Johnson School, and continued her violin studies in 6th and 7th grades at the Bethel Middle school instructed by Mr. Richard Baumer. Gia was also chosen to perform classical pieces on piano in the 5th, 6th and 7th grade Variety Shows in 2011 and 2012. Gia is studying the viola since September 2012.

This is the fourth year the Chopin Piano Competition has taken place, and was started as a 200th year celebration and part of a tribute to composer Frederic Chopin’s 1810 birth.  The idea of this competition originated from Dr. Kevin Smith, former principal of Bethel Middle School, now newly appointed Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, and “Music Connections” teacher Mr. Thomas Rombilus, who also organized and ran the event all four years.

Gia will perform the same two Chopin and Clementi pieces for the Bethel Middle School faculty on March 6, 2013 at 3:00 p.m., a special performance offered to winners only.

This year Gia Antolini was also chosen to participate in the Fairfield County String Festival, which included an intensive two day rehearsal culminating in a performance by three orchestras from the Fairfield County 6-9th grades. Students had to be recommended by their BMS music teacher, who submitted their resumes to festival officials, who then selected students for the event. The festival began on Friday afternoon, March 1, 3:45-6:00 p.m. and continuing on Saturday, March 2, at 9:00-3:00 p.m. when rehearsals and intensive instruction by prestigious conductors took place.  Music instructors were Mary Ann Meade (6-7th grade orchestra), E. Daniel Long (8-9th grade orchestra) and David Gilbert (8-9th grade honors orchestra). The festival included an award-winning guest violinist Gary Capozziello, who once was a member of the Fairfield County String Festival orchestra.  He was accompanied by pianist Doug Burn.

Suzuki music piano instructors:

Mr. Paul Malyszka

In 2002, Mr. Paul Malyszka joined the staff of the Suzuki Talent Education School in Newtown, CT as a certified Suzuki piano teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Paul began the Suzuki method at age three, studying piano with Jeanne Luedke for fifteen years. He received his B.A. in Music from Manhattanville College and his Masters Degree in Piano Accompaniment from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.  Paul is the music director and organist at the King Street United Church of Christ in Danbury, CT. Paul is also the full time accompanist for the music department of the Wooster School of Danbury.

Ms. Helen Malyszka

Ms. Helen Malyszka, who teaches the Baby classes, Pre Suzuki classes and Theory classes, became involved with STES in 1983 with her son Paul, who was three years old at the time. In 1985 Helen received Suzuki training from Jeanne Luedke and began teaching Pre-Suzuki classes. Helen is also the music teacher for St Rose Pre-School, Newtown Congregational Nursery Co-op and the Wesley Learning Center. In 1975, Helen graduated from Stevenson College in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition to her teaching, she has performed in the vocal harmony trio Eclipse throughout Scotland and in the United States for over 30 years with her brother and twin sister.

Ms. Jeanne Luedke

Ms. Jeanne Luedke founded the Suzuki Talent Education School in 1977 and has been a teacher and trainer for forty years and retired from teaching in 1999 to focus entirely on parent education. After earning a Master’s degree in music and a career in piano performance, Jeanne Luedke studied the Suzuki Method of talent education both here and at Dr. Suzuki’s school in Matsumoto, Japan.

She is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Suzuki Association of America and past editor of the piano column for the Suzuki Journal. Jeanne continued to train teachers and parents in her widely acclaimed Parent Education Seminars from 1987-2007. For the past ten years Jeanne has written a parent education newsletter for Suzuki parents and teachers. She continues writing practical advice with her Studio Series newsletter which teachers can purchase and reproduce for their families. In addition, she has written a book entitled Teachers Guide to Parent Education. This guide contains the important information that Jeanne has shared in her newsletters and teacher seminars over the past twenty years.

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