For pianist Ingrid Fliter, classical music is not just a pleasant diversion.
"Classical music is one of the most powerful tools we have to face difficulties in life," she said in a recent phone interview from New York. "Music is the greatest way to fight against that and to survive in the best way."
She will offer her own solace to audiences when she performs Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in
G Major with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra next weekend at the "Body & Soul" concert at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
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The orchestra also will perform Malcolm Arnold's Tam O'Shanter Overture and Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 "Organ." MSO Music Director David Lockington conducts.
Composed in 1929, the piano concerto was Ravel's last large-scale work.
"The Ravel concerto is one of the most beautiful pieces for piano and orchestra," Fliter said. "It's not romantic in a Chopinesque way, but more classical, more Mozart style. But it still has to be very deeply touching, very deeply personal."
The upbeat first and third movements frame a moving, slow second movement
"It's full of different colors, full of different contrasts," Fliter said. "People can easily listen to it with pleasure and interest because it drags you to listen to it."
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fliter, 34, won the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award given to exceptional pianists who possess broad and profound musicianship and charisma and who have the ability and the desire to pursue an international career.
She started piano lessons at age 8 and performed her first recital at 11. By 16, she made her professional orchestra debut at Buenos' Aires' famed Teatro Colon. Fliter said she grew up in a musical family where piano music and opera were playing all the time.
Fliter has lived in Italy the past 12 years but is considering moving with her boyfriend, clarinet player Anton Dressler, to the United States. If she does, she will miss Italy.
"It's one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the culture is very familiar to me because Argentina is made up of many Italian immigrants," she said.
In her free time, Fliter enjoys riding bicycles, walking or taking a boat ride.
"I discovered how important and beautiful nature can be and how inspiring nature can be," she said. "We have so much to learn from it."
Fliter won prizes at the Cantu International Competition and Ferruccio Busoni Competition and in 2000 was awarded the silver medal at the Frederic Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
"My main interest when I play a concert is to try to understand what the composer is trying to say, what story he is trying to tell," she said.
Music is about human feelings, she said, and her goal is to communicate those feelings in the purest, most faithful way to the composer's intentions. Her goal is to get audiences to appreciate the beauty of the music.
"I want them to somehow feel part of a wonderful experience -- that is to listen to music and be part of the music world, which is one of the most amazing things we have in life," she said. "It's a privilege to be part of that."
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at 578-2313 or email@example.com.