European piano duo entertains New Britain museum crowd

Published on Sunday, 26 May 2019 21:07
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEW BRITAIN – Music and art met yet again inside the New Britain Museum of American Art Sunday.

The NBMAA’s Sunday Music Series featured a piano recital by Estibaliz Gastesi and Marcio Bezerra, presented by the Frederyk Chopin Society of Connecticut.

This internationally acclaimed duo played for a crowd of over 100 people – both museum members and lovers of classical music.

“I would say about two-thirds of the people are museum members and about one-third are from New Britain Polish community,” said Andre Blaszczynski, president of the New Britain-based Polish American Foundation, which houses the society.

Blaszczynski said the NBMAA offers the group an excellent venue and audience.

“This is one venue that not only has a decent piano but also provides us with a large audience,” he explained. “As it turns out, people who like art also happen to like music.”

Jeff Mainville, NBMAA’s senior manager of visitor experience programs, brings a variety of performers to the museum’s monthly music series. Events always take place in the Stanley Works Center, which overlooks Walnut Hill Park. Mainville has worked with the Polish American Foundation several times.

“We provide the space and the piano; they provide the talent and the people,” he said. “It’s a wonderful partnership.”

Gastesi, a native of the Basque Country, has performed throughout Europe and the United States, and Bezerra, a native of Brazil, is a Fulbright Scholar.

Before and after the concert, patrons browsed the museum galleries. Many headed upstairs to check out the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit.

The pianists performed one selection by Chopin, but also “From the Faraway Nearby” by Charles Griffin, a six-movement work that paid homage to O’Keeffe.

“It’s a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” New Britain resident Michael Horvath said.

West Hartford residents Larry and Serenie Cohen came to the museum just for the concert. Larry Cohen said he studied music at New York University many years ago.

“I love anything with Chopin,” he said. “About 20 years ago, I was in Moscow and I toured his apartment. They have a recording of one of his preludes. It was neat to see the piano where he composed his music.”

The society was founded in 1998 by Polish pianist Slawomir Dobrzanski, under the auspices of the Polish American Foundation, in 1998. It is one of two such societies in the U.S. recognized by the International Federation of Chopin Societies.

The next Sunday Music Series performance is set for June 9 at 3 p.m. It will feature the New Britain Symphony Orchestra’s Dixieland Jazz Band. Entry is free with museum admission.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Sunday, 26 May 2019 21:07. Updated: Sunday, 26 May 2019 21:10.