Thursday, May 13, 2010

Surprise guest for an Angelika screening

Coming soon – like, tomorrow – to a theater (Angelika Film Center) downtown: Surprise in Texas, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Rosen’s up-close account of the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. The documentary follows 30 competitors from 14 countries -- including Nobuyuki Tsujii, an award-wining pianist blind since birth – as they vie for attention and accolades at the prestigious contest. Rosen goes behind the scenes to focus on preparations and performances, and acknowledges the warm hospitality extended by Texas host families to competition participants.

After the 7:45 p.m. Friday Surprise screening at the Angelika, Jade Simmons, first-ever webcast host for the Van Cliburn Competition, will be on hand for a Q&A session. And while she likely won’t be sharing hot gossip about who may have hidden a rival’s sheet music, or slipped a whoopee cushion onto someone else's piano stool, Simmons – who earned a master’s degree at Rice University, where she studied with Jon Kimura Parker, and created the Mozart on the Move music education program used in H-Town’s public schools -- will offer insights informed by her own experiences as a classical pianist.

What sort of experiences? Well, Simmons has played impressively in several concert venues – so impressively, in fact, that The Washington Post has called her “a clear, powerful pianist with a magnetic personality…worth seeing any time.” And while she was competing at the 2000 Miss America Pageant, she earned first runner-up honors partly on the strength of her performance of Chopin’s Etude in C-sharp minor, Op. 10, No. 4. Of course, it probably also helped that she looked pretty smokin' hot in a bathing suit, but still....

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