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Passion for music
Local pianists travel to Italy for elite international festival
piano pic1
Neve Foresti, 13, of Denair, was selected to attend the prestigious Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy this summer. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

The piano notes that flow from Neve Foresti’s fingers tell the story of a young woman whose passion for life centers around music. At her short 13 years of age, Foresti, a resident of Denair, has achieved musical excellence and will soon put her abilities on display as she will be attending the prestigious Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy.

The program will involve intense musical study for three weeks in July,  with an international music faculty. Foresti will join a select group of outstanding pianists from all over the world to participate in this summer’s event.

“Music has been around my family since I was born,” said Foresti. “At the age of 3 I picked up my first violin but I enjoyed the sound of the piano better so I started playing a year later. My mom is a piano instructor and she’s been teaching me ever since. I practice every day for about three hours. I truly enjoy what I do.”

The music program will be held in restored 17th and 18th century buildings, including a classical Italian style opera house, two concert halls, numerous practice and teaching studios and modernized living quarters.

“I’m looking forward to being with people who are musically more advanced than me so I can grow and learn from them,” said Foresti. “It will be an honor to be learning from different instructors from all over the world.”

Foresti currently attends California Virtual Academies.

“She is an exemplary student with a 4.0,” said Neve’s mother Janisse Foresti. “She has received Scholar Exemplary Plaudits in English, history and Latin. She has participated in the middle school Latin, Greek and math clubs. She has also played lead roles in plays such as Domio of Ephesus in Shakespeare’s 'Comedy of Errors' and also Puck in 'Midsummer Night’s Dream.'”

In 2011, Neve attended the Utah State University Piano Clinic and was awarded a college scholarship at age 12 by Professor Gary Amano.

“I definitely see music in my future,” said Neve. “I’ll possibly learn how to play the cello; I’ve always loved the sound of that instrument.”

The Casalmaggiore International Music Festival will also welcome Turlock High student Heath Rojas, whose fascination for the piano can be traced back to when he first heard his older brother play.

“I began playing the piano and taking lessons at the age of four, and have continued my pursuit of classical piano since then,” said Rojas.

Thirteen years later, Rojas still plays the piano every day and aspires to a career in music. For the past three years, he has been under the tutelage of retired California State University, Stanislaus professor and acclaimed performer John Hildebrandt.

“Under his tutelage, I have truly excelled as a pianist and have been involved in piano competitions, festivals, and adjudication programs. I have also participated for many years in the Summer Music at Stanislaus music camp; but this will be the first time I will attend such a prestigious international music festival,” said Rojas.

Rojas' hard work also won him a spot in the Valley’s Got Talent competition at the Gallo Center for the Arts in previous years.

“I have never been outside the United States and I am so excited to be able to spend a month in Italy, being able to study and perform music. The piano has always been a huge part of my life and it is one of my greatest passions,” he said.