May 2, 2023

CIM's Antonio Pompa-Baldi embarks on summer-long piano odyssey

Antonio Pompa-Baldi, at a piano, speaks to a student seated at his right
Antonio Pompa-Baldi works with a student at a recent Lang Lang International Piano Festival. He is headed back to the event this summer.

How busy is this summer going to be for CIM’s Antonio Pompa-Baldi?  

Put it this way: If he were to enroll in an airline rewards program right now, Pompa-Baldi would probably have elite status by the end of August.  

That may not even be an exaggeration.  

CIM’s Distinguished Professor of Piano is about to prove he’s in demand around the world by, well, traveling around the world. Now through August, his schedule is virtually jam-packed with appearances spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia.  

“My summers have always been like this,” said Pompa-Baldi, on the eve of his first departure. “In this profession, the lifestyle is by definition that of an itinerant person.” 

Pompa-Baldi's first stop is in Hangzhou, China. There, he’ll serve as vice director for education at Lang Lang Art World, a multipurpose arts organization devoted to nurturing young talent. He’ll also lead a weeklong residency with masterclasses and give a recital.  

From there, it’s off to Shenzen, where Pompa-Baldi will be a guest artist at the Lang Lang International Piano Festival. His role there will be to teach and adjudicate, all in service of Lang Lang’s larger mission.  

“All artists need to be ready to give back and make sure that music is in the lives of the next generation,” Pompa-Baldi said. “To be part of that [in China] is just wonderful.”  

The air-miles only snowball from there. After Shenzen, Pompa-Baldi heads to Indonesia for an event at the Jakarta Conservatory of Music. Then it’s back to China, to Nanjing, for masterclasses organized by his former student Mutian Cui (AD ’20), and then to Bangkok for Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.  

En route back Nanjing and then to the Valencia International Performing Arts festival in Spain, Pompa-Baldi makes a brief return to Cleveland, to celebrate his daughter Eleanor’s graduation from high school. A few weeks later, in early July, he returns again for the Cleveland International Piano Competition and Institute, co-presented by CIM.  

“I imagine I’ll feel like a guest in my own city,” Pompa-Baldi predicted.  

Then Pompa-Baldi starts accruing mileage in the Lower 48. Around his Cleveland visits come masterclass appearances across the country, in Tampa, Lancaster, Boston, San Jose and Fort Collins.  

Last but not least, just before the beginning of the fall semester at CIM, two festivals await Pompa-Baldi in Europe: Todi International Music Masters, in Italy, and Piano Loop, in Croatia.  

Pompa-Baldi said he enjoys the itinerant life, especially the part that entails meeting new people, reconnecting with friends and experiencing a wide range of cultures. The hard part, he said, is the travel itself: the long flights, the delays, the lost luggage.  

But there is a method to the madness.  

The reason Pompa-Baldi travels so much in summer is to remain available to his students throughout the school year. Often, too, he’s able to meet up for brief vacations with his wife, pianist Emanuela Friscioni, and daughter, cellist Eleanor Pompa (who, incidentally, has enrolled at CIM next year).  

Then there’s the work of serving as a global ambassador for CIM. It’s a job Pompa-Baldi takes quite seriously.  

“I’ve always felt invested in the role we all play,” he said. “Through me and my fellow faculty members, people all over the world can see how high the level at CIM really is. If we do something good, it reflects positively on our school.”