Their practice pays off

Irrera brothers reflect on Carnegie Hall concert

By Roger Muehlig

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:40 AM EDT

Now that brothers Joseph and John Irrera have made their debuts at Carnegie Hall, the Batavia natives would like to play the famous New York City music venue again some time.

“I hope to return,” Joseph Irrera said. “(I’ll) be seeking any chance I get to go back.”

“Definitely I’d like to be back at Carnegie Hall,” said younger brother John.

The brothers, who live in Greece and teach at the Eastman School of Music’s Community School in Rochester, got the opportunity to play in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall by emerging in the Winners Recital of American Protg Competition.

Both submitted CD entries of their work, Joseph on the piano and John on the violin, for the international piano and strings competition. They became the first brothers to end up as first-place winners, according to an organization committee official.

The two, both Batavia High School graduates, flew to the Big Apple to perform at an Easter Sunday concert. Joseph said it was a well-attended event in the recital hall that seats nearly 300 people.

“I think it was pretty well sold out from what I could see,” he said.

“It was very exciting. We both played extremely well. It was really a great experience,” he said during a telephone interview from their apartment.

Joseph, 26, said he was a bit nervous, mostly just before going on stage.

“It’s the anticipation,” he said.

But that passed once he got to his piano keyboard.

“It felt like any other performance,” he said. “I think we looked at it that way and it helped.”

Joseph went on first, playing Chopin’s Ballade No. 4. He then joined John, 23, for Greig’s Violin Sonata in C Minor, a piece that requires piano accompaniment.

It really went well, said John.

“I was pleased at how I played and how we performed together as an ensemble,” he said. The brothers, who developed musical interests as youngsters, received a gold medal and a certificate. But the actual prize was performing at Carnegie Hall, Joseph said.

The two had been there before, but as audience members, rather than performers.

Their parents, Dr. Joseph and Judy Irrera of Batavia, were on hand for the afternoon performances.

The family went out to eat and to see some of New York City afterward, John said. They spent the night, he said, before flying back home the next day.

How did mom and dad feel about seeing their sons on a big-time stage in New York?

“Very proud and thrilled,” their father said in a telephone call Sunday.

“Both the boys did an excellent job … If I can be a little biased, I swear both were the best ones up on the stage,” he said.