Cristiana Pegoraro Brings the Sounds of Narni(a) to Carnegie Hall

Roberta Cutillo (March 14, 2019)
Pianist Cristiana Pegoraro brings the Narnia Festival, of which she is the creative director and founder, from Umbria to New York, with an all Italian debut at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

The acclaimed Italian pianist Cristiana Pegoraro delighted the audience of Carnegie Hall last night with her concert “Fantasia Italiana”, which she performed alongside an orchestra composed of selected professors and students of the Narnia Festival and conductor Lorenzo Porzio.

The concert was the New York debut of her project, the Narnia Festival, a “celebration of dance, music, arts, and culture” featuring among other things, world-class musical performances and international educational programs. The festival is held in Narni, Umbria, Ms. Pegoraro’s hometown, and brings together performers, teachers, and students from all over the world.

This year, the festival is launching a series of educational programs and concerts to be held in New York City as well. Last night’s concert marked the beginning of an initiative which Cristiana Pegoraro conceived to give the participants of Narni’s summer program the opportunity to learn and perform in one of the most important cities and on some of the most prestigious stages in the world.

Though the festival is international, the program of last night’s concert “Fantasia Italiana” was all Italian, featuring some of the Greatest classics: “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi and three ouvertures from Gioacchino Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra” (“The Thieving Magpie”), “L’Italiana ad Algeri” (“The Italian Girl in Algiers”), and “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (“The Barber of Seville”), all adapted to include the piano.

Ms. Pegoraro doesn’t simply play the music, she introduces each piece, recounts the story behind it, explains to the audience what the instruments represent, tells them to listen for the approaching storm, the flowing wind, the slow approach of Summer, the drunken shepherd. She accompanies the spectators on a this musical journey, which is not always easily accessible if you are new to the world of Classical music.

The pianist continues to engage with her audience during the enthusiastically requested encores, for which she plays other great Italian classics but in a playful, lighthearted manner. She invites the conductor Lorenzo Porzio to take over the piano but then begins to join him, first by poking a key, completing a melody here and there, and finally by sitting down next to him to play “à quatre mains.”

During the intermission, the vice-president of the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE),  journalist Maria Teresa Cometto, came onto the stage to present the musician with a plate recognizing the importance of her work in promoting Italian music and culture abroad and in fostering cultural exchanges between Italy and the US. Ms. Pegoraro accepted it inviting the audience to join her in Umbria, “the most beautiful region in Italy” as she calls it, this summer for the eighth season of the Narnia Festival, which will take place from July 17 to August 4, 2019.