Northeast Student

“The Advocate”
Tuesday. May 18. 2010

STAMFORD — In a brightly lit corner of the Blumers’ living room, a young pianist worked patiently to achieve the sound and meaning Franz Liszt intended for a passage of his “Waldesrauschen (Forest Murmurs).”

“Seth, this has to be dreamy,” said Svitlana Fiorito, 34, as she wrote a note on sheet music propped up before her student. “Everybody is going to sleep. The trees, the animals, the beasts, they are all sleeping.”

Carefully, Seth Blumer, 11, adjusted his play, extending his fingers and slowing his pace as his teacher gently lifted his right hand to direct his fingers to the keys, making sure he played with the proper pressure and duration.

This Sunday afternoon practice was a study in Seth’s attention and dedication to the instrument he has been playing since 5 years old, seriously since he was 7. To a casual observer, his first run-through of the piece, which appeared to be flawless, made it easy to see how he has received first-place honors and gold prizes in many competitions, including the recent Young Pianist Competition of New Jersey.

It also was an example of the skill that earned him a chance to play at Carnegie Hall.

But for this Northeast Elementary School fifth-grader, the Sunday session was a chance to get the piece just right and ready for the special recital he will be performing at his school at 7 p.m. Friday. The program also will feature a jazz composition “Daytune Blues” by Stratford resident Joe Utterback, as well as other classical music pieces, including those from Beethoven, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Bach and Chopin.

Seth, who aspires to be a concert pianist, said he hopes his peers, their parents and members of the school and larger community will participate in the concert by buying tickets to help raise money for the school’s music program. Seth plans to donate 100 percent of the proceeds, which he hopes tops $10,000.

Seth sees it as his way of giving back to his school and helping others pick up a new instrument. He recalled once learning that a classmate was unable to play cello because the school did not have a cello for him to use. “It saddened me that he was not able to play an instrument he wanted to play,” Seth said.

Ethan Margolis, Northeast’s principal, said the money raised at the recital would help the school in financing repairs to its inventory of instruments, which would help get more instruments to more students. “He is a very special kid,” Margolis said of Seth, who has attended the school since he was in kindergarten. “We’ve been able to watch him grow and grow and grow.”

In the last two years, Seth has grown considerably as a musician, which he attributes to a summer music camp at Colgate University that he attended several years ago.

“It made my love stronger, and I began to play deeper,” he said of the camp, noting that he went up from the half-hour practice to several hours a day. “After I came back from Colgate, I knew I wanted to get better.”

On an average day, Seth gets up at about 6 a.m. to squeeze in some practice before going to school. It means his parents, Dionne and Fred, have no need for an alarm clock. “It is a lovely way to wake up in the morning,” Seth’s mother said. He practices after school, as well, but his parents make sure he has time to keep up with other interests. He appears to be a fan of most sports, he likes to keep up with friends, and he has excelled in karate, with a bookshelf of trophies to prove it.

Both he and his parents noted that the discipline and focus he has gained while studying at Ryokubi Dojo in Stamford has been a tremendous help in keeping him on task as he practices and gives him an inner calm when he performs at competitions and in large halls.
Still, practice gets one only so far.

“I regard him as a prodigy,” said Fiorito, whose studio is in Stamford.

“It is a combination of natural talent, hard work, dedication and the fact that he wants to do this,” she added. “What also is important is his mom and dad’s involvement. They are carefully leading him to this field, and they listen to my suggestions.”

By Christina Hennessy, Staff Writer