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Young pianist wins chance to play Carnegie

The keys on his piano may open some doors for Illya Filshtinskiy.

The 15-year-old pianist recently won grand prize in concerto and solo piano in the 46th World Piano Competition Young Artists' division hosted in Cincinnati. Now he will have the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in November.

"He basically won everything that was available to him," David Burwell, his step-father and Ironton native, said. "Obviously, as any parent we are very proud, but we also recognize the responsibility to provide the wind under his wings to rise to the level he is capable of. We support him in all his studies."

They now reside in Westerville, but Filshtinskiy has performed in Ironton on several occasions including concerts at the First United Methodist Church and Ohio University Southern.

He is currently attending the Bowdoin Music Festival in Maine and was unavailable for comment.

The American Music Scholarship Association sponsors the WPC event that is hosted in Cincinnati each year. Kids from ages 5 to 17 participate in 12 different skill levels.

Illya won in both the highest division, class 12, and overall in the Young Artists' division in both concerto and solo performances, Burwell said.

"We understand how much talent is contained within him. It is proven to us regularly," he said.

Burwell met Illya's mother, Elena, in 1999 on a visit to Kharkov, Ukraine. They married and she and Illya joined him in America in 2000.

Illya is becoming more adjusted to the culture. He has really grown the last few years in high school and people have gotten to know him through his music, Burwell said.

"His music has been a mechanism for becoming more acclimated," he said.

Carolyn Burwell, his step-grandmother, has lived in Ironton her entire life. She said that he is quite a fellow and she is very proud of him.

"He is really a wonderful boy," she said. "He has adapted well to this country. When he is not on the piano he is an ordinary teenager."

The family is getting ready to go on vacation in Florida, but he will still

practice every day, she said.

David Burwell said Filshtinskiy plans to study at a conservatory and become a professional pianist. Winning the competitions provides him with monetary awards and scholarships to help pay for his education.

Filshtinskiy has studied piano since he was six.

He has studied under Russian conservatory trained musician Nina Polonsky in Columbus and husband-and-wife pair Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff of the University of Cincinnati. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune