WEB EXTRA: Macedonian pianist dazzles crowd

Macedonian Ambassador Nkola Dimitrov is supposed to be the foremost emissary of his country to America, but it was his fellow countryman, pianist Simon Trpceski, who stole the show Tuesday night at the Jack Morton Auditorium.

Trpceski gave an electrifying performance before a crowd of approximately 240 students, Washington, D.C., diplomats, and the prime minister of Macedonia at the School of Media and Public Affairs building. Trpceski played selections from Johan Brahms, Frederic Chopin and Jivoin Glischich, a Macedonian composer. Dimitrov said he believes Trpceski, not himself, is the greatest envoy from his country to the world.

In his opening remarks, Dimitrov, who is often credited with improving relations between the United States and the central European nation, called Trpceski “our most prominent ambassador today.”

“A nation that gives birth to someone like Simon Trpceski is a nation that does not have to worry about its future,” Dimitrov said.

Trpceski’s performance was the feature of “A Celebration of Macedonia,” an event organized by Program Board Cultural Affairs Chair Peter Fu, a sophomore, and the Macedonian Embassy. The embassy contacted GW about hosting the celebration of the embassy’s 10th year anniversary, and Fu and Program Board jumped at the chance.

“It’s really great to bring this musical diversity to campus,” Fu said before the performance.

Trpceski’s recital was well received by the audience, whose standing ovation persuaded the 26-year-old musician to play an encore.

“He was amazing,” said freshman John Carlos Estrada, one of 85 undergraduates invited to the ceremony. “The way his fingers moved so quickly on the piano was spectacular.”

“I was thrilled to be exposed to the culture of Macedonia through his music,” freshman Brand Kroeger said.

With seemingly flawless skill and demonstrable passion, Trpceski has impressed audiences throughout the world. He won second place at the 2000 World Piano Competition in London, and he came in first place at the 1998 Yamaha Music of Europe Competition. Before coming to GW on Tuesday night, he played a series of sold-out performances at the Lincoln Center with the New York Symphony Orchestra.

“It was a great challenge and honor . every artist wants to play with the New York Symphony,” said Trpceski in an interview after the event. “I was surprised at how receptive the audience was; they gave me standing ovations every night.”

Trpceski was born and raised in Skopje, the capitol of Macedonia. He began playing the piano at the age of 7 and has developed into one of the world’s premier pianists.

“I love the sound of the piano. It’s the most orchestral of all instruments,” he said. “I feel very spontaneous and natural on stage, and I appreciate it when the audience reacts to me.”

When not on tour, Trpceski is a music teacher at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje. He is currently on his third tour of America and plans to return in January, when he will play with a variety of symphonies, including those from Seattle, San Francisco, Charlotte, N.C., Montreal and Toronto.

Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski is in D.C. to meet with President Bush and other administration officials.

Ilya Filipov, a senior staffer at the embassy, said Buckovski will support U.S. foreign efforts in the war on terror in his meeting with Bush.

In an interview before the event, Filipov said, “Prime Minister Buckovski plans to discuss Macedonia’s support for the United States’ efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the United States’ support for Macedonia’s goal of joining NATO and the European Union.”

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