Noell and Holly Hadsell Take First and Second in Piano Competition

For four days, Paderewski Festival events delighted both residents and visitors alike for its annual celebration of the pianist, composer, statesman, winemaker and philanthropist. In venues throughout Paso Robles, Paderewski’s legacy was made manifest in concerts and activities held at two ballrooms and among vines and barrels at two wineries.

On the first Thursday in November, Café Musique had everyone swaying or tapping their toes to the group’s instantly likeable brand of gypsy, swing, tango and folk tunes in the Cass Winery Barrel Room. On Friday evening, Park Ballroom was the site of a piano Master Class and American jazz standards performed by Grammy Award winner Bill Cunliffe, Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz and Tina Raymond.

Youth Piano Competition finalists

Paderewski Festival Youth Competition, Paso Robles, PASO Magazine

Courtesy photo
Pianists from Santa Barbara swept the Junior division of the Paderewski Festival Youth Competition. Pictured are second place winner Holly Hadsell (12), who also placed second in the 2016 competition, and Noelle Hadsell, who at just eight years old, won first place.

Among the highlights of the festival was the Paderewski Youth Piano Competition on Saturday afternoon, which features three winners each from the Senior division for students ages 15-18, a Junior division for students 10-14 years old, and a Paderewski Legacy Award winner. For 2017, the Legacy Award recipient was 11-year-old Andy Shen. The Senior winners in first and second place were Max Afifi (17) of Seaside and Xinyun Liu (16) of Salinas.

Pianists from Santa Barbara swept the Junior division. In third place was Vincent Lertchareonyong (14), and in second place was Holly Hadsell (12), who also placed second in the 2016 competition. A pleasant surprise was the Junior first place winner, Noelle Hadsell, who at just eight years old, won first place.

In addition to common interests in performing arts, both Noelle and her older sister are mutually supportive of one another in musical competitions. The sisters also enjoy ballet and singing when not playing Bach, Mozart and Chopin. Their interest in competition grew from piano lessons to a growing love of music in its various forms.

At school, however, the sisters typically lean toward Beethoven while their peers prefer pop.

Magdalena Baczewska wows at Gala Concert

The Saturday evening audience was fully engaged as Magdalena performed her program of Paderewski, Chopin and Szymanowski. The New York City concert pianist and professor at Columbia University familiarized the audience with intriguing information before she played each piece. Without question a technically flawless pianist, the rapt audience absorbed every note of Baczewska’s intuitive playing. Baczewska seemed to make her own even the most popular of the Paderewski’s compositions, which drew repeat ovations.

Paderewski Cycle presentations

At Epoch Estate Wines’ York Mountain location, where Paderewski bottled his award-winning Zinfandel, VIP ticket holders enjoyed a relaxing brunch on a perfect Sunday morning while viewing a musical presentation of
Paderewski Cycle. Sponsored by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, the national juried competition calls for creative “treatments” for a musical script about Paderewski. Nine finalists from New York City and Los Angeles were featured in videotaped musical vignettes aimed to bring Paderewski’s multifaceted accomplishments to a modern audience.

Special guests at the Festival included the Honorable Mariusz Brymora, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, and Dr. Krzysztof Olendzki, director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

For more information about the Paderewski Festival, visit paderewskifest.com