Artist looking for audience participation

Renowned pianist will ask children to play during intermission

Austin resident Ian Shapinsky is giving back to area children next week.

The acclaimed concert pianist is giving a performance at the Paramount Theatre Sunday, March 24, yet his show won’t just be about him.

Shapinsky is calling on area youth who want to know what it feels like to play onstage to come to his show, where for several minutes they can play a solo using whatever instrument they choose.

“It’s a way of encouraging kids to find themselves, and grow,” Shapinsky said, comparing the opportunity to a career day for musicians. “I wanted to encourage them to learn how to perform and see what it’s like onstage.”

It doesn’t matter how many children decide to show up; Shapinsky will make sure each willing child will get an opportunity to play.

“It’s about being able to get the kids to perform, to be themselves,” he said. “It could take five minutes, it could take an hour. I have a feeling a lot of people will be a little shy, but there will be a few people who will try it and that’s fine.”

For more than 50 years, Shapinsky has played piano professionally in the U.S. and Europe. He started to play when he was 7-years-old, and by age 9 he was playing duets with his father, also a professional musician, onstage. He was accepted to the Julliard School of Music in New York at the college level when he was 15, and studied under renowned piano masters before touring the globe.

He will perform Sunday with cellist Wang Hong, and their performance will include pieces by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and others. Yet the focus, according to Shapinsky, is on area youth.

“We were all beginners at everything once,” he said. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to find out, kind of, who you are.”

Tickets are $20 in advance to perform onstage, $10 for adults, and $5 for students, while door tickets will cost $2 more. To arrange for your child to perform onstage, please call the Paramount at 507-434-0934.

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