Our Inspiration

The original core competition for piano and other instruments, which we call “The Capriccio”, is a tribute to the piano artistry of my step-Mom, Frieda Belott Pierone. As a teen, Frieda was not only an accomplished solo artist, but a popular accompanist, especially by vocalists and violinists. As an adult, she formed an all-female jazz trio. Frieda created and performed in a sextet for social dance gatherings. The Belott sisters entered a Talent Show July 4, 1953 produced by General Electric’s radio station WGY, which was broadcast “coast to coast” (a big deal in its day) and hosted by Albany’s Strand Theater, which boasted the best sound system in the region. Frieda played piano in a concert at Union College’s Memorial Chapel.

Although her “day job” was as an administrative assistant, Frieda continued to perform with aspirations to support herself solely as a pianist of national recognition. While that dream did not materialize, Frieda continued to play until age 86! The last 25 years of her musical performance were spent on the liturgical organ for local churches, to which she devoted time since graduating from high school directing various church musical programs. Frieda owned a theatrical organ, which she loved to play until Parkinson’s made it difficult to work the pedals in the last two years of her life.


Frieda (foreground) and Theresa, circa 1953. Frieda continued to play until age 86. The last 25 years of her musical performance was spent playing liturgical organ for local Catholic churches.

Frieda and I both were passionate for classical music and 20th century performance such as jazz and theatre. My deep admiration for Frieda’s musicianship motivated me to design a contest for other passionate pianists. The idea of preserving the musical heritage of 18th, 19th and 20th century composers through competition became my mission.

The concept evolved to afford pianists an opportunity to showcase their proficiency beyond solo artistry in the creation of a novel competition to include piano as accompanist and piano as part of an ensemble. Ultimately, as we progress, if one pianist places first in all 3 categories and replicated Frieda’s talent, that pianist would win the Rosewood Fanning prize! The skill of the other instruments would be recognized as well. We named our initial competition, “The Capriccio” (kah-preet-she-oh) to reflect this fanciful and irregular type of format.

Frieda’s niece, Denise D’Agostino Pavletic, an original Board member, suggested we acknowledge her mother, Theresa Belott D’Agostino and Frieda’s sister. Frieda and Theresa often played twin pianos and performed together in Frieda’s jazz trio. Theresa taught private piano lessons, held an annual student recital and played organ in local Catholic churches. It was decided to add a second competition for children under the age of 16 in recognition of Theresa’s conviction to music as a parent and teacher.

Rosewood Fanning dedicates this second competition to all the music teachers, who develop musicians, and to the parents/ caregivers, who transport budding talent to countless lessons, recitals and competitions. We call it, The Franchezza (franh-ket-zah), to celebrate the confidence of our youth to carry the torch of learning the craft.

In the Spring of 2016, Rosewood Fanning expanded its competition framework to add “The Brioso” (bree-oh- zoh). Translated from the Italian, it means to play music “with spirit”, “lively” or “with vigor”. Inspired by virtuoso pianist, John Bayless, this competition represents the heart of the musician, who perseveres whatever the challenge. The pianist in this competition has found the resiliency to play the piano faced with the physical use of only one arm.

I met Mr. Bayless several years ago at the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, a stroke rendered him unable to use his right arm. I encourage you to see Mr. Bayless’ performances on You Tube, where he speaks of his journey to resurrect his artistry and performing. I wanted musicians in similar circumstance to have another forum to perform and compete. When I chatted with him about the Brioso in 2017, he “loved” it. I am happy that Mr.Bayless will be joining our endeavor in the Brioso Competition.

It is our pleasure to invite you to participate. My hope is that this display of skills in competition will help young musicians realize their musical dreams and in a broader sense continue to sustain the musical heritage of these composers from 18th – 20th centuries in our culture.

Feel free to call the office with any questions at 518-372- 5253 (10-6pm EST) or contact me directly at creativedir@rosewoodfanning.org.

Kathy Pierone
Creative Director and Founder

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