HUDSON -- Thousands of miles away from home in the grand setting of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, a pianist sits at the keys giving a performance to an international audience filled with musicians, teachers and family.
The set up would be enough to make many nervous, but 14-year old John Michael Berdusco said he doesn’t really feel any pressure when he prepares to compete.
“It’s just do it so you don’t have to do it later,” he said.
“Guess who’s nervous?” said his father. John Berdusco.
Berdusco and his father traveled to Russia this summer for an international competition, where Berdusco took third place in piano with orchestra in a field with competitors from all over the world.
A total of 72 contestants competed in different instrument categories. They ranged in age from 11 to 29 and came from several countries including Brazil, Honduras, Japan, China, Germany, Spain and Russia. About 10 competitors including Berdusco came from the United States.
“They all got along great and supported one another,” John Berdusco said.
The piano category had two competitions, piano solo and solo with orchestra. Berdusco competed in both.
All of the prepared pieces must be played from memory.
The seven-day festival included time to sit with four teachers from different countries, including Russia and Japan. Their competitions took place in the St. Petersburg House of Composers as well as the Marble palace.
While in St. Petersburg, Berdusco did have some time to see the sights, including the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and Hermitage Museum.
“The city was really nice,” he said.
This is the third time Berdusco has competed in such company. He previously went to Italy and Spain, where he won second place at the age of 11. International competitions like this are held every one or two years.
The preparation for the competition was surprisingly less than one might think, Berudsco said.
“Just practice your songs and pack your bags,” he said.
He started practicing three or four months before the trip, every day.
The opportunity for Berdusco to compete in these international competitions comes from his teacher, Reid Smith. He is friends with the organizers of the competitions, and he invites some of the students who play with him to the events. It is a great opportunity, Berdusco said.
“Not a lot of people get this, so it’s nice to have taken advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
John Berdusco hopes the experience will help his son as he builds a resume. Berdusco is interested in the medical field, potentially invasive cardiology, and would like to attend Brown University or John Hopkins University.
Berdusco enjoys piano because it’s a form of expression
“It’s just enjoyable hearing the songs you play,” he said.
Beyond his competitions and performances, he plays music that he wants to play. His favorite piece is Marcus Veltri’s "Sorrow."
Berdusco practices each night after dinner. His father said he needs no prompting now to do so.
“Now I’m cleaning up and I hear the piano,” John Berudsco said. He’s proud of his son. He gives up much of his summer for opportunities like this, he said. “So I give him a lot of credit."
Berdusco still has other time for other interests including playing violin in the St. Thomas Academy orchestra and participating in trap shooting and soccer.
His next international performance will be in Italy, where his grandparents are from. He visited their hometown during his trip to Italy, and was invited to do a tribute to his grandfather next summer.