History of WIPAC
In January 2001, John Gardecki, a resident pianist of Middleburg, Virginia, joined the ranks of accomplished top-level amateur pianists who competed at Concours International des Grands Amateurs de Piano in Paris, France. After his Paris performance, he competed in the 2nd Van Cliburn International Piano Amateur Competition at Fort Worth, Texas, and received encouraging and positive feedback on his piano playing. The Paris and Forth Worth experience motivated and inspired John and his wife, Chateau, to bring this kind of international competition to Washington D.C. They presented the idea to close friends and were very encouraged by their enthusiastic responses. Shortly thereafter, an Executive Board was assembled from fellow music enthusiasts who share the same strong passion for classical piano music and who understand the important role it plays in elevating the cultural life of our communities.
With the encouragement and assistance of Jerome Barry, Director of the Embassy Series, Washington International Piano Arts Council (WIPAC) successfully launched its first public event at the La Maison Française of the French Embassy, on April 24, 2002, featuring four winners of international piano competitions for outstanding amateurs chosen from Paris, Forth Worth (Van Cliburn), and Boston. The concert, aptly titled WINNERS GRAND PRIX CONCERT, was very well received by the public. News of that successful event in 2002 traveled fast. Immediately afterwards, Mr. Keith Peoples of the Society of the Cincinnati, extended an invitation to WIPAC to help revive their tradition of offering piano concerts to the general public at the Anderson House Museum. WIPAC offered to present a Fall and Spring Piano Concert Series for the 2002-2003 season. The first WIPAC/Anderson House concert was held on September 11, 2002, with pianist Martin Berkofsky a Liszt recital expressing the sentiments of this memorable day. This was followed by a stunning performance of great works of Ravel by pianist Eric Himy in October, 2002.
WIPAC's Anderson House Piano Concert Series continued until 2010 with 4 piano concerts every year. Many memorable programs have been presented by great professional pianists, including Frederic Chiu, Eric Himy, Stuart Isacoff, Silvanna Santinelli, Raymond Jackson, David Witten,Tzvetan Konstantinov, Frank Conlon, Michael Lewin, Janice Weber, and many others,
The WIPAC piano concert tradition continues today at the Kosciuszko Foundation, Washington Office, at 2025 O Street NW, Washington, DC. Each year WIPAC presents the winner of its Washington International Piano Artists Competition and the remaining 3 concerts are offered by professional pianists. All of these 4 concerts are offered to the public free of charge.
One of WIPAC's most interesting annual events is the Winners Grand Prix Concert in April, a fundraising event for the summer piano competition. It features 4 non-professional pianist, all winners of various international piano competitions, in one evening of performances; thus, to demonstrate the high level of artistry these kinds of pianists have succeeded in achieving over a lifetime, despite their full time work in professions other than piano performance. They perform primarily for the "love" of music.
WIPAC presents piano concerts throughout the year in cooperation with embassies located in Washington, DC. WIPAC extends its thanks to many embassies in the Washington, DC area who have cooperated with the organization to present cultural events. WIPAC offers its special thanks to the Embassies of Luxembourg, Portugal, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Iceland, Finland, Madagascar, Malta, Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, France, and Mexico, for their unfailing and continuing support of WIPAC's important cultural mission in the Washington, DC community.
The highlight of every year is WIPAC's Festival of Music and the Washington International Piano Artists Competition. The competition is open to pianists 31 years of age and above who are not professional pianists. The competition is tradionally held in the first week of August or last week of July, on a Wednesday through Sunday timeframe, in cooperation with The George Washington University Music Department, and with the continued support of various international embassies and organizations in Washington, DC.
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