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Lawrence Pianist Hopes Latin Grammy Win Encourages Students To 'Practice A Little Bit More'

Producer Sam Pilafian, trombonist Domingo Pagliuca, pianist Paulina Leisring, Steve Leisring, and Brock Babcock, at the University of Kansas recital hall.
courtesy of the artist
(left to right) Producer Sam Pilafian, trombonist Domingo Pagliuca, pianist Paulina Leisring, trumpeter Steve Leisring, and recording engineer Brock Babcock, at Swarthout Recital Hall at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The 21st annual Latin Grammy Award winners were announced on November 19. Lawrence-based pianist and music teacher Paulina Leisring was on the list.

An offhand comment about a University of Kansas recital hall put into motion a recording project that has won a Latin Grammy Award for pianist Paulina Leisring of Lawrence, Kansas.

Leisring performs in ensembles and teaches students in the Kansas City metro and Lawrence. Her husband, Steve Leisring, is a trumpet professor at KU, as well as a professional trumpeter who's performed as a soloist and with orchestras around the world.

A few years ago, Boston Brass was on tour and stopped in Kansas. In a conversation with trombonist Domingo Pagliuca, Paulina said he mentioned the beauty of KU’s Swarthout Recital Hall, and remarked that it would be a good place to record a CD.

“And my husband said, ‘Oh, maybe we should do that.’ And that's how it happened,” Paulina said with a laugh.

Their collaboration, “Eternal Gratitude,” won a Latin Grammy on Nov. 19 for Best Classical Album. The annual awards by the Latin Recording Academy recognize "outstanding achievement in the Latin music industry."

There’s a range of composers and a variety of styles on the recording, including Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Schumann, Stravinsky and Vivaldi, as well as more contemporary works.

"This CD, all the music is pure, pure beauty, pure love,” Paulina Leisring said. “I just hope people will have a different view of classical music."

Leisring added she also hoped her Grammy win will inspire her students to “practice a little bit more and love classical music a little bit more.”

On Facebook, trombonist Pagliuca wrote a message to his collaborator: “Paulina Leisring, you were just spectacularly superb. Thank you for your artistry, your musicianship, and most of all your friendship.”

Pagliuca also thanked her husband “for making the recording happen.”

"Eternal Gratitude" is dedicated to album producer and tuba player Sam Pilafian, whodied in April 2019.

"We are his last project. He was very ill, but he still traveled to Kansas to make this happen," Paulina Leisring said.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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