Master Pianist 2023

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As a little girl I walked with my mother in Naarden Vesting, on the way to the Turfpoortstraat, on the way to my grandmother. the buildings! The Spanish House, St Andrew’s Church! The former church building which was built by the Robert F.W. Bruinsma was converted into a concert hall. How did that happen?

In my youth I listened to the St Matthew Passion many times in the Grote Kerk in Naarden. My parents were both organizationally involved in these beautiful performances by the Netherlands Bach Society. At that time, the seeds were sown for my development in and love for music. After my childhood and schooling, my husband and I have done a lot of work abroad and have lived in France for 25 years. The music then came into the background a bit, but it never really left my head. My husband passed away in 2005.

During that period I started organizing piano concerts on our estate in France. It was a success! And it gave me the energy and the idea to take up that also in the Netherlands after I sold the estate. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, the Robert F.W. Bruinsma set up. The main objective of our foundation is to support young musicians, especially piano students, on their way to their future.

The Andreaskerk in the Turfpoortstraat in Naarden Vesting has been purchased with the aim of creating a home base for the activities of our foundation. After three years of renovation, we have transformed the former church into a small-scale concert hall. In the initial phase of the renovation I met the pianist Nino Gvetadze. She was introduced to me by Jan Wijn, a well-known piano pedagogue in the Netherlands. Nino and I had a few conversations and it soon became clear that we are on the same page regarding thoughts about music and youth. So Nino presented her plan to me. An idea to bring young top talent from the piano master’s program at the conservatories into contact with people who are important for their development on the way to their career. And this was the starting signal for the ‘Naarden International Piano Festival’. We are both very proud that it has come to this.

You have a dream but you have to dare to stick your neck out to make it come true. Persevere, don’t hesitate, go after your goal!
Music connects people!
We hope to connect students with master pianists!
Together with Marco Meijdam, our producer and a small team of employees, we are doing our best to put this festival on the map for the future.
We hope to offer you as an audience a few days of beautiful music!

Hankie Bruinsma Verbrugh (December 14, 1946 – October 23, 2023)
Co-founder of the Naarden International Piano Festival
Chairman of the Robert F.W. Bruinsma Foundation

Hankie Bruinsma Verbrugh
© Ronald Knapp

I was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, country of beautiful landscapes and rich musical traditions.
Even though non of my family members were professional musicians, I discovered piano from an early age. I loved composing little Waltzes and by the time when I was 5, I could already present a modest recital at the entrance exam of the Tbilisi Music School. Since that moment I have been blessed with the most inspiring teachers and possibilities to learn and develop, therefore, despite the turbulent years in my homeland, my first musical steps were full of interesting experiences.

For my Master’s degree I moved to the Netherlands and soon made my second home in Amsterdam, magical city, that charmed me from the first sight. During my studies I was honoured to have won the National Piano Competition (YPF) and later became a laureate of the Franz Liszt Piano Competition followed by the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Award. These awards opened many doors to the concert halls all around the world.

I love playing solo recitals, where I can tell a personal story, as well as piano concertos and chamber music: to be inspired and communicate with other musicians is an incredible experience.

Making an album is always a magical moment, that’s probably where I become most demanding and honest. With every record I have been telling the stories, that are in a certain way connected to the certain stage of my life.

A few years ago I co-founded a piano festival in Naarden, that became a meeting point for pianists of different generations. I also lead the Delft Chamber Music Festival, where we celebrate the beauty of music and tell interesting stories annually, together with wonderful musicians.

I enjoy teaching my students at the Rotterdam Conservatory and giving master classes as well as listening as a Jury member to the young talented pianists at the International Competitions.

Being on stage and filling the room with a golden tone of a grand piano – that’s what I love the most in my profession, those moments when we get a chance to stop the time in the concert halls and communicate with our audience through the sound of music.

Hope to see you all in Naarden!

Nino Gvetadze
Pianist / Co Founder / and Artistic Director of the Naarden International Piano Festival.