On Sunday, August 19 at 5 p.m., The Southampton Cultural Center will be the place to be to witness an “extraordinary cast of musicians,” says Elena Baksht, concert pianist, and Founder and Executive Director of The Southampton Arts Festival. This promises to be an “extraordinary night,” says Baksht. The concert will feature child prodigy, William Chen, 9-year-old pianist and winner of the “Little Mozart” competition. “He has incredible maturity in his playing,” Baksht says of Chen, “and at the same time, we encourage people to bring their children to the concert since it is very inspiring.” The concert is result of Baksht’s and other musician’s desire to “give back, because many of us were child prodigies ourselves.”
Baksht, Russian-born, was dubbed “the pianist with the magic touch,” by The Washington Post, and performed at the age of 11, Bach’s D-Minor Piano Concerto, with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra at Moscow’s Central Hall of the Arts.
She is a soloist and chamber musician who has performed in the U.S. and all over the world. She regularly performs with violinist Dmitri Berlinsky. It is her belief in the “synergy between music, education and medicine,” that led her to create this event, which highlights the relationship between child prodigies and autism. Part of the proceeds are going to autism research and education. Baksht became aware of the work of psychology professor Dr. Joanne Ruthsatz on gifted children. Ruthsatz, the author of How To Raise Extraordinary Children, is working toward finding a link between autism and child prodigies. “They hold the key in their genetic system,” Baksht explains, “a modifier that blocks the negative effects of autism.” At a recent event in New York, Dr. James Watson, Nobel Prize Winner in 1962, for the discovery of the DNA molecule, and Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, spoke on his work with Dr. Ruthsatz. Baksht says the research and findings point in a very interesting direction and may lead to a groundbreaking discovery. “That the clue to autism may be in the genes of musical prodigies. We find it thrilling to be able to present this information to people.”
The night of August 19 at the Southampton Cultural Center will feature both world-class musicians and child prodigies. Members of the New York Philharmonic will be on hand as well as renowned classical pianist, Evgeny Kissin, the “most remarkable child prodigy in the world of classical music for the last 50 years,” says Baksht. “We are so proud to have Kissin on board with us.” Kissin is known for his interpretations of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Liszt.
Baksht, also a poet, has created and organized “interactive arts programs incorporating poetry and music in a new public performance genre. All my life I have been interested in connecting art forms.” Her interest, besides creating and sharing great music with the public, is to also create workshops for children, to meet child prodigies and to build a student program with professors of music from Purchase College and The Julliard School. Part of the proceeds of the concert will go to this end.
Another event, taking place on August 22 at Wolffer Estate, will be a wine reception and benefit, with food prepared by 17-year-old chef, Greg Grossman, a child prodigy who has worked with Dr. Joanne Ruthsatz.
Baksht cannot say enough about her passion to share and expose people of all ages to great music and help them find their own inner musician. “We are offering a wonderful way to hear extraordinary music and create great joy.”
For tickets to the concert on Sunday August 19 at 5 p.m. with wine reception to follow, call 631-287-4377. Or go to: www.southamptonculturalcenter.org. The Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton.