by Thomas Hudgins and Dr. Andrew Levin

Greenville father-daughter duo to perform with Clemson University Symphony Orchestra

Greenville father-daughter duo to perform with Clemson University Symphony Orchestra

Father-daughter bonding takes many forms, but it isn’t often that it takes the form of virtuoso classical music performance. Fabio and Maria Parrini are that rare duo. Father Fabio and his 16-year-old daughter, Maria, are both world-class pianists based in Greenville who will perform with the Clemson University Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Dr. Andrew Levin, on April 1, at 8 p.m., at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.

Levin is familiar with both artists. “Fabio has performed twice with the orchestra in the past,” he says. “Then Maria played a few years ago as a winner of our concerto competition as a cellist rather than a pianist. A while later, I attended a performance of the Greenville County Youth Orchestra in which Maria played a piano concerto. As I was waiting outside for the concert to begin, it suddenly struck me that we should find a piece where we could feature the two of them together.”

It wasn’t long before that idea became reality. Discussion of such an event began that evening, as it was on Fabio’s “bucket list” to perform a concerto with his daughter. Levin, who received a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission for this project, says the concert has been a long time coming. “It’s been in the planning stages for two years and I’m excited to finally be able to lead this great event.”

Daughters who attend the performance with their fathers will receive free admission. Just stop by the box office before the performance and inform box office manager Nancy Martin, or one of the box office attendants, or contact Martin for more information at nmartin@clemson.edu or (864) 656-7787.

Fabio Parrini has performed twice before with the Clemson University Symphony Orchestra: first in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, then in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with his brother and sister. Mr. Parrini is professor of music and piano coordinator at North Greenville University, as well as an active adjudicator. He has won numerous international piano competitions and has given master classes across the country. In addition to performing on several recordings and television broadcasts, Mr. Parrini is a Steinway Artist who is repeatedly selected for programs sponsored by South Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

His daughter, Maria, is a senior at Wade Hampton and the Greenville Fine Arts Center. She has studied piano since the age of three and has also studied cello with Martha Brons and Christopher Hutton. A member of the Fine Arts Center’s chamber music program as both a pianist and cellist, Ms. Parrini made her orchestra solo debut as a 13-year-old playing a cello concerto with the Clemson University Symphony Orchestra. She has won several piano competitions, including the Jan and Beattie Wood Concerto. Passionate about spreading music in her community, Ms. Parrini organized a benefit concert for the South Carolina Upstate Homeless Coalition in November, and she regularly teaches strings to students at the Frazee Dream Center in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.

The pair will perform in the first half of the concert. They begin with Claude Debussy’s Petite Suite. This work, originally composed for piano four hands when the composer was in his twenties, was orchestrated by Debussy’s friend and composer Henri Büsser twenty years later. Debussy liked the arrangement so well that he even conducted it in concerts around Europe. The work is in four movements: In a Boat (Sailing), Cortège, Menuet, and Ballet. The entire work is light, tuneful, at times dancelike, and engaging from start to finish.

The featured work is the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra by 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc. This piece is for two pianos, which dance around each other, play together, and play against each other. There is much of the “perpetual mobile” about this work, the constant running of notes in a seemingly never-ending rush of excitement. Throw into the mix some good humor and some French café music and you end up with an irresistible work, in three exciting movements. “The Poulenc is a very engaging, rollicking, and serious, work that should be quite entertaining for the audience,” says Levin, “even if they are not familiar with the piece or composer.” It is a unique piece in that it captures different styles. “There’s a bit of the dance hall in the music as well as some heart-wrenchingly beautiful melodies.”

After intermission the orchestra presents the well-known Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. This work was composed in nationalistic fervor against censorship by the Russian Empire, rulers over Finland for almost a century. The work was first performed under a variety of alternate names to evade censorship, but it was immediately understood as a work promoting the sounds and soul of the Finnish people. The slow melody in the middle has become a national hymn of Finland and has even become a popular Christian hymn under the name “Be Still, My Soul.”

As a change from orchestral music, the Clemson University Trio will perform an early work by Beethoven, his Variations on “Là ci darem la mano,” an aria from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” Originally for two oboes and English horn, this performance will feature an oboist, violinist and cellist from the orchestra. Beethoven first states the familiar tune, then subjects it to a variety of changes, of melody, harmony, accompaniment – even key and meter, yet the melody remains recognizable throughout.

The concert will conclude with music from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, composed by Howard Shore. This familiar and exciting music features all sections of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, for a rousing conclusion to the concert.

“[The Parrinis] are both gracious people who have the music itself as their primary focus,” says Levin. “This isn’t about them, but about preparing and presenting this wonderful concerto in the best possible light. It will be a joy to present this concerto to the audience.”

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and are available for purchase online at www.clemson.edu/Brooks and through the box office at (864) 656-7787 from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.


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