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Love for the arts a family tradition for piano prodigy

Rossina Grieco is a 12-year-old piano prodigy who has been performing in front of live audiences and winning awards for her extraordinary talent ever since she was 6. On Friday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. she will perform at the Atheneum as part of their special concert series.

Rossina first started playing the piano at age 4. She had an interest and passion for music, ever since she can remember, she said.

“I think I’ve known I had a talent ever since I was a baby,” Rossina said. “Everyone has been telling me that I love to dance and sing. I can memorize music easily, even in other languages.”

Both of Rossina’s parents have a love of music. Her mother, Molly Grieco, is a clarinetist and music teacher, and her father often listens to opera, Molly said.

She added that music was constantly playing in the Grieco household, but the piano was the instrument Rossina was especially drawn to.

“I knew when she was a baby that she would play music in such a way,” Molly said. “As soon as she was a month old, she would smile when she heard music and she would stop right away if you stopped the music. She is happier with music, ever since she was a year old, she was dying to be on the stage and I know that she wanted to start on the piano.”

Rossina started playing the piano at age 4 under her mother’s supervision, but she soon came under the instruction of Luba Ugorski, a renowned music teacher and musician from the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music.

The partnership with Ugorski helped Rossina develop her musical talent, and by age 6 she was performing live in front of audiences. She has performed with the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Chamber Orchestra.

In addition, she has won many competitions, including the Bach Festival in 2001, 2002 and 2003, the Young Artist Competition of Carnegie Hall in 2001 and Catch a Rising Star in 2002. She was the youngest winner of San Diego Symphony “Hot Shots” competition in 2003.

Rossina said she adjusted to playing in front of live audiences and that she does not get nervous to perform.

“I’m very used to it,” Rossina said. “Before, I would get excited and hyper, and now I know how to be calm when I go on stage. It is about how you can play and give your feelings to the audience.”

Rossina said she enjoys performing and playing the piano because it is a form of expression.

“Playing is actually an expression of everything that I feel ... happiness and sadness, it is every feeling,” Rossina said. “When you really think about it, it is a beautiful instrument and it is a form of art and it describes everybody’s feelings.”

Rossina said she enjoys performing the works of all the classical composers.

“I love every composer, because each describes every feeling,” Rossina said. “You can’t only like one composer, they each wrote many beautiful pieces.”

But she said every musician should learn Bach and have his work be a part of their musical repertoire.

Rossina has performed at the Atheneum before, but she will give her first full-length performance at the venue on May 4th.

Rossina performed in min-concerts at the Atheneum throughout the years, and her prior performances there were a favorite among audiences, according to Atheneum Musical Director, Judith Oishei.

“She has grown musically and it will be an interesting to see how she has grown throughout the years,” Oishei said.

Rossina’s mother, Molly, said although her daughter is considered a prodigy, she plays the piano with the skills of a professional musician.

“I think she plays music professionally,” Molly Grieco said. “She has always performed to high standards and as best as she can.”

Rosina attended a private school for many years, but currently she is studying with a tutor and she practices the piano for four hours a day.

She said playing the piano is her passion, but she enjoys studying language arts as well.

Molly said she sees Rossina becoming a professional musician with a long career ahead of her.

“I am pretty sure she will be a concert pianist,” Molly said. “It is her passion and we need to support her.”

Molly added that one of her daughter’s biggest accomplishments was performing to a full-house in Shanghai, a city that has the most child prodigies in the world, she said.

Oishei said that Atheneum tries to support local young artists and Rossina has a great talent that the Atheneum is happy to support.

“This concert is wonderful because it is a growing experience for Rossina,” Oishei said. “And this is a great opportunity for us because we get to hear great music.”