The recital was part of this year’s Paderewski Festival

NORTH COUNTY — The community came out to celebrate up-and-coming pianists at the Youth Competition Winners’ Recital on Saturday, Nov. 4. The recital, always a part of the Paderewski Festival’s lineup for the weekend, included seven talented youths playing a classical repertoire of music that was a feast for the ears. Each performer played the beautiful piano in the Park Ballroom in Paso Robles.

“My favorite part is when the young people perform. Your participation in the arts allows the arts to continue through the next generation, your sponsorship of Paderewski, your support, and your attendance,” stated Master of Ceremonies James Brescia at the start of the recital. “And those of you who are parents and or teachers out there in the audience, your persistence and your patience as these young people move forward in their craft is equitable.”

Coming in third place in the Junior Division, the first performer of the afternoon was Noelle Hadsall, 14, from Goleta, playing Chopin. She’s been a prizewinner in the youth competitions since 2017 and visited Poland in 2019 with the Paderewski Festival’s Cultural Exchange Program. 

“One of the wonderful things about visitors coming to this country and our children coming to different countries is we learn to appreciate other cultures and other individuals, and that’s the deal with this program,” stated Brescia in Hadsall’s introduction.

Taking the stage next was Jiyoo Kim-Jung, 14, who was second place in the Junior Division. Also from Goleta, Kim-Jung has played pianos internationally. She graced the audience with a selection from Claude Debussy.

“It’s always an honor to be in this competition. I’ve participated in the past three or four times. It’s always great to be back and play for all the people,” said first place in the Junior Division, Sela Yarbrough, 14, from Fresno.

She performed a piano sonata by Sergei Prokofiev at the Ballroom but has also graced international stages as well.

“We have another Paderewski Legacy Award winner, Anna Albright [15]. She’s also attended the Colburn Summer Piano Seminar. I think this is going to be a real treat, and we will have some Paderewski here,” said Brescia as he introduced Albright.

Albright currently attends the San Luis Obispo Classic Academy and wants to major in music and languages in Europe in the future.

The recital then went into the winners of the Senior Division, with third-place winner Ellen Butler, 15, from Santa Barbara, taking to the piano keys. She played selections by Paderewski and Prokofiev. 

“It was a lot of fun. The other performers are really interesting people, and I really enjoyed playing today,” said Butler. “I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old with Dr. Natasha Kislenko.”

Sarah Gutshall, 15, from Monterey, was the second-place winner of the Senior Division, and she played piano numbers from Paderewski and Chopin on the stage.

“I’ve enjoyed listening to Suri [Kim] over the years. I believe this is either the fifth or sixth year of participation in this particular festival and as a Cultural Exchange Program student, she’s being able to share not only the hard work in our country but abroad,” stated Brescia as he introduced the first-place winner.

Kim, 15, played selections from Paderewski and Rachmaninov. She is a student at Orcutt Academy High School and is also interested in creative writing.

The Youth Competition Winner’s Recital was proceeded with the Tina Raymond Trio playing at Libretto on Thursday, Nov. 2; The Cracow Duo playing at the Park Ballroom on Friday, Nov.3; and was followed later that evening by the main event of Mateusz Krzyzowski on Saturday, Nov. 4. Here’s to another successful year of celebrating Paderewski and he brought to the North County.

Feature Image: (From left) Noelle Hadsall, Jiyoo Kim-Jung, Sela Yarbrough, Anna Albright, Ellen Butler, Sarah Gutshall, and Suri Kim take a bow after their recital. Photo by Christianna Marks