The Music Scene

Hot Springs has a wide variety of music festivals and special performances, in addition to many venues and bars that feature life music.  

Concert by Ibla International Music Competition Grand Prize Winners

Don’t miss this one-night-only, free performance by the winners of IBLA International Music Competition at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church located at 841 Quapaw Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Admission is free and the concert begins at 7pm.
The IBLA Foundation in New York City organizes annual music competitions for pianists, singers, instrumentalists and composers which take place in Ragusa Ibla, Italy. Winners have been presented in prestigious venues such as Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Alice Tully Hall, KIOI Hall and Tokyo Opera City Hal in Japan, Tchaikovsky Bolshoi Hall in Moscow as well as other prestigious venues in the USA, Canada, Europe, Montecarlo, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Japan.

2022 Grand Prize Winners who will be performing in Hot Springs include:

Michael Barimo, Whistler – USA
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Top Prize Winner, Michael, was raised in Winter Park, Florida and  began his career as a singer and whistler as a child, performing with a boys’ choir and touring as Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act opera Amahl and The Night Visitors. When he was a small child his aunt gave him a pet canary that inspired him to whistle. Michael won several whistling competitions, and in 1999, attained the title of World Champion of Musical Whistling at the Millennium Championship of Musical Whistling in Edmonton, Alberta, where he began whistling operatic arias, particularly those with fast coloratura. Michael attended Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City, graduating in 2006 with two B.A.s in Italian Literature and Anthropology. He won the Sergio Franchi scholarship from the National Italian American Foundation and performed at galas in D.C. and Connecticut. On March 30, 2003, while a freshman at Columbia, Michael appeared as the musical guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. 

Michael has performed at Weill Recital Hall with the IBLA Foundation, and toured with IBLA in Sicily, England and the USA. 

Michael has been profiled in the New York Times, America Oggi, The Sydney Morning Herald, BBC News Online and other media outlets. 

His whistling can be heard in every episode of BBC’s animated series 3rd and Bird, a preschool series. He has also appeared in numerous PBS, Nickelodeon and Amazon streaming series, most notably the 2019 reboot of Clifford The Big Red Dog as well as Peg + Cat, Pinkalicious, and The Wonder Pets. In 2019, Michael appeared as the soloist with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, in Windsor, Ontario.

Maria Criscione, Guitar – ITALY
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Outstanding Musician, Maria Criscione born in Ragusa, Italy in 1997, began studying classical guitar at the age of 12 at the “S. Quasimodo ”of Ragusa, under the guidance of the master Massimo Incarbone.

In 2013 she was admitted to the “Alessandro Scarlatti” music conservatory in Palermo, studying with the masters Maurizio Norrito, Marco Caiazza and Marco Cappelli, obtaining a first level degree with a grade of 110/110 cum laude in 2019.

In the same year, she won the first prize in the “Vivart” competition in Palermo and the first prize in the “Città di Palermo” competition.

You have attended masterclasses with the Masters Lorenzo Micheli, Andrea de Vitis, Frédéric Zigante, Alfonso Borghese. She was also an actual student of the specialization course at the Chigiana Academy of Siena held by Maestro Oscar Ghiglia.

You have participated in various musical reviews as a soloist, as a member of the “Rosa dei Venti” guitar quartet and in the Plectrum Orchestra of the Palermo Conservatory. She currently attends the first year of the two-year guitar course at the “G.B. Pergolesi ”of Fermo, under the guidance of Maestro Claudio Marcotulli.

Octávio Deluchi, Guitar – BRAZIL
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Outstanding Musician and praised by the specialized press as ‘one of the most active and brilliant soloists from his generation’ – Acervo Digital do Violão Brasileiro, and described having ‘a rare balance between effortless technique, great  musicality, and knowledge of a variety of styles within the guitar repertoire. Octávio is also one of the best  interpreters of my solo guitar music’ – João Luiz.

Octávio Deluchi has been establishing himself as a  leading musician of the new generation of guitarists, in Brazil and abroad. Having studied with  Guilherme Vincens, Robert Trent, João Luiz, Fabio Zanon and Paulo Martelli, Mr. Deluchi won  more than 15 prizes in national and international levels. Octávio is a coordinator of BCGC –  Brazilian Classical Guitar Community, and Violão na Lira projects. In addition, he is an AssoVio  Vertentes Guitar Association founder member and guest professor and artist at Prados Music Festival.  He performs regularly in cities such as New York, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte,  and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree at Stony Brook University in New York, USA. For more information,  prizes, scores and schedule, visit 

Haruna Furukawa, Flute – JAPAN
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Top Prize Winner Haruna Furukawa obtained master and doctorate degrees from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Also obtained unanimously a degree of superior execution course of Ecole Normale de Musique, a Paris Awarded Best New Recognition Award of Japan International League of Artists. She also played as a soloist with the New Japan Philharmonic, Geidai Philharmonia Orchestra, and Shizuoka Symphony Orchestra.

Haruna studied with Akiko Mikami, Kim Chang-Kook, Paul Meisen, Michel Moragues, Pierre Yves Artaud, Aurele Nicolet, and Wolfgang Schulz. Teaching Flute at Tokoha University, also volunteer teaching music for poor children and girls in Cambodia.

Luigi Gordano, Accordion – ITALY
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Outstanding Musician, Luigi Gordano, born in 1999 in Cetraro, Italy has a Degree I level in Musical Disciplines Classical Accordion branch 110 cum laude and special mention at the Conservatorio D.Cimarosa. In 2021 Degree II level in Musical Disciplines Classical Accordion branch 110 cum laude and special mention at the G.Martucci Conservatory. He has won numerous national and international competitions, both as a soloist and as a member of chamber ensembles.

He has to his credit numerous concerts throughout Italy, his research on the classical and contemporary repertoire is always aimed at the development and discovery of new techniques for accordion literature. He plays both as a soloist and in the orchestra under the direction of M. Stefania Rinaldi on occasion of the event “The voice of the sound winds” for the Naples Theater Festival. He is the dedicatee of the piece Epigram by Enrico Meloni, first performed at the “Le Forme Del Suono” festival at the Auditorium of the O.Respighi Conservatory in Latina.

In 2019 he won the Italian selection to represent Italy at the Coupe Mondiale, in August of the same year he ranked 8th out of 50 participants in the category. Coupe Mondiale Master in Shenzhen, China.

He recorded and played the world premiere of the piece Il Filo di Arianna by Andrea Moro, for Bayan accordion and orchestra, with the C. Schumann orchestra of Crotone.

He was invited by the Arpa Foundation, with Honorary President Andrea Bocelli, to  play with world-famous musicians such as: Maria Luigia Borsi, Soprano Brad Repp,  Violin and Roberto Barrali, Piano.

He has played in numerous theaters and concert halls, among the most famous are: Sala Medaglioni of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory (Contemporary Accordion Festival), Respighi Conservatory (“Le Forme del Suono” Festival), “Vincenzo Vitale” Auditorium in Avellino, Palazzo Loreto Abbey of Montevergine (Naples Theater Festival), Bruno Mazzotta Hall, Zevallos Palace Galleries in Naples, Diana Theater in Nocera Inferiore, Palazzo Baronale De Conciliis (Cilento International Music Festival), Auditorium of Palazzo De Simone, Xixiang Music Valley Concert Hall in Shenzhen , Teatro degli Industri in Grosseto, Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Grosseto, Giardino Scotto in Pisa (Arpa Foundation), Tenuta dei Normanni in Salerno (Festival of the Mediterranean Hills), Sferisterio Theater in Macerata (Macerata Opera Festival), Badia di San Vito in Aquilonia, Borgo Castello in Calitri, Liri Fountain (Fontana, Church of Santa Maria de Lama (Giorn UNESCO European Ate), Former Convent of San Francesco in Pordenone (Fadiesis Accordion Festival), Stables of Palazzo d’Attimis in Maniago (Pordenone Music Festival).

He has participated in numerous masterclasses with the most important teachers of the accordion scene such as: Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi, Raimondas Sviackevicius, Vojin Vasovic, Frederich Lips, Yuri Medianik, Vladimir Zubitsky, Dario Flammini, Pavel Fenyuk, Miliam Bjeletic and Angelo Miele.

Alexander Kato-Willis, Piano / Improvisation  – USA / JAPAN
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Special Prize Winner Alexander Kato-Willis has toured to high acclaim as a soloist across Europe, the United States, and Asia. Radio France Internationale called his Paris debut “radically  refreshing,” and National Public Radio dubbed his music “an inspiration.” The Chunichi Shinbun referred to his technical ability as “transcendental,” and Yahoo! News wrote that he is a pianist “who captures the audience’s hearts.” His recitals have been broadcast nationally on television in Japan, and he has been invited to perform by the Irish Ambassador to Japan and the Cultural Attaché of Finland. He has made appearances with personages such as Tom Brokaw and given recitals alongside musicians the likes of DGG recording artist, José María Gallardo del Rey. 

Kato-Willis has composed the score of the film Thanks to Your Noble Shadow, a documentary detailing the life of the last Irish missionary nun in Japan and has served on the board of the EG3 Paris Film Festival. His compositions have been performed by former vocalists of the Metropolitan Opera and have been featured in the magazine International Piano. At the age of seven, Kato-Willis gave his first solo improvisation performance. At the University of Southern California, he studied piano under the internationally renowned pianist Daniel Pollack and studied composition with Morten 

Lauridsen, recipient of the 2007 National Medal of Arts. Kato-Willis was awarded Highest Distinction for both his doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Southern California.

Tamara Licheli, Piano – GEORGIA
IBLA GRAND PRIZE Top Prize Winner Tamara Licheli is a prizewinner of numerous national and international competitions. Among them are Georgian musicians’ competition (Georgia), Ettlingen international competition (Germany), Gottingen Chopin international competition (Germany), Marco-Polo international competition (Greece), Bradshaw & Buono international competition (USA), Ibla Grand Prize international competition (Italy) etc. Tamara Licheli performs as a soloist as well as a member of chamber ensembles. She collaborates with such musicians as Liana Issakadze, Marina Iashvili, Alexander Korsantia, Alexander Rudin, Iuri Jislin, ken Aiso, Akikazu Nakamura; conductors: Jansug Kakhidze, Vakhtang Kakhidze, Vakhtang Matchavariani, David Delpino Klinge, Lavard Skou Larsen, Gianluca Marciano, Tan Lihua and others. Her concerts were held in Georgia, USA, South Africa, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Lithuania etc. Tamara Licheli is a jury member of different national and international competitions. She gives master-classes in Georgia and abroad.

It’s necessary to emphasize her role in development of Georgian classical music-she’s a first performer of many important Georgian pieces such as Felix Glonti, Ramaz Kemularia’s, Vakhtang Machavariani’s concerts for piano and orchestra, Vaja Azarashvili’s piano quintet, Zura Nadareishvili and Gogi Chlaidze’s piano trios etc. Also, she has other important Georgian composer’s pieces in her repertoire (compositions by A.Mizandari, M.Davitashvili, S.Tsintsadze, O.Tatishvili etc.). She graduated from Tbilisi State conservatoire with prof. Tengiz Amirejibi, passed a probation period in Academy of Santa-Cecilia in Rome with Prof. Sergio Perticaroli (Italy) and in Music Academy of Munich with Prof. Gerhard Oppitz (Germany). In different years she was Georgian President’s, Tbilisi Municipality’s, Italian and German government’s scholarship holder.

Tamara Licheli is the author of a book “Tengiz Amirejibi” – it’s the first book about a famous Georgian pianist and teacher, her professor – Tengiz Amirejibi. Tamara Licheli is an Associate Professor of Tbilisi State Conservatoire. She’s a founder and artistic director of Tengiz Amirejibi International Music Festival (Tbilisi, Georgia) and National Piano Competition (Borjomi, Georgia), director of “classical music development foundation”.

Armando Sabbarese, Piano – ITALY
“Charismatic, brilliant and powerful, Armando charms with his scintillating pianism and strong personality.” – Il Mattino

Since his debut, at the age of five, IBLA GRAND PRIZE Outstanding Musician, pianist Armando Sabbarese has performed internationally as a soloist and in chamber ensembles in renowned festivals, theaters, and concert halls such as Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice, Ragusa, Brussels, Lugano, Kiev –  where he collaborated with the KLK Symphony Orchestra.

Since a young age, Armando has won first prize awards at several international competitions. His recent achievements are a special mention for the performance of the “Three Irish legends” by Henry Cowell (Ibla Grand Prize 2021), first prize for the renowned Chopin piano competition in Rome (2018, piano duo section) and first prize for the best performer of a contemporary composition within the international competition held in Mercato San Severino (Salerno, Italy).

Under Professor Giuseppe Squitieri, Armando has completed his music education (MA) with highest honors at the ‘Giuseppe Martucci’ Conservatoire in Salerno in either Solo piano performance or Chamber music. Armando has delved into the contemporary chamber repertoire. He was admitted into the advanced specialization Academy in Fiesole under Bruno Canino and, at present, he has enrolled in the contemporary piano course held by Emanuele Arciuli and the Postgraduate Specialization Courses in Music Performance under Pierre Laurent Aimard, Emanuele Arciuli, Nicolas Hodges, Ralph Van Raat and Tamara Stefanovich.

Armando has been widely appreciated by critics and audience for his masterful performances of renowned composers such as George Crumb, John Cage, Galina Ustvolskaya, Henry Cowell, Karlheinz Stockhausen and other international contemporary composers with whom he collaborates to perform their unreleased compositions.