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updated: 1/24/2014 4:20 PM

Elgin's American Grands gives cousins a chance to shine

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  • Video: Hear the Del Rosarios

  • The Elgin Community College Arts Center presents American Grands XIX Saturday. Performers of all talent levels and age groups from throughout the area will play.

      The Elgin Community College Arts Center presents American Grands XIX Saturday. Performers of all talent levels and age groups from throughout the area will play.
    Daily Herald file photo by Laura Stoecker/lstoecke

  • Brothers Louie and Baltazar Del Rosario, of South Elgin, each have three children who are playing in the American Grands XIX concerts at the Elgin Community College Blizzard Theater. Almost 500 musicians of all ages and skill levels will play.

       Brothers Louie and Baltazar Del Rosario, of South Elgin, each have three children who are playing in the American Grands XIX concerts at the Elgin Community College Blizzard Theater. Almost 500 musicians of all ages and skill levels will play.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Gabriel Del Rosario, 10, is one of six cousins playing in the American Grands XIX event at the Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theater.

       Gabriel Del Rosario, 10, is one of six cousins playing in the American Grands XIX event at the Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theater.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Danyelle Del Rosario, 15, talks quietly with her father Louie, of South Elgin, as her sister Ashriel, 12, sits with their cousin Jaden, 12, in the Blizzard Theater at Elgin Community College. They are three of six cousins playing in Saturday's American Grands XIX production.

       Danyelle Del Rosario, 15, talks quietly with her father Louie, of South Elgin, as her sister Ashriel, 12, sits with their cousin Jaden, 12, in the Blizzard Theater at Elgin Community College. They are three of six cousins playing in Saturday's American Grands XIX production.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Siblings Izabella, 11, and Jaden Del Rosario, 12, play together as their cousin Ashriel Del Rosario, 12, rehearses on another grand piano for the American Grands XIX concerts at the Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theater.

       Siblings Izabella, 11, and Jaden Del Rosario, 12, play together as their cousin Ashriel Del Rosario, 12, rehearses on another grand piano for the American Grands XIX concerts at the Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theater.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Amy Fuller
afuller@dailyherald.com

These days, there aren't many quiet moments in the Del Rosario households.

Both Baltazar Del Rosario and his brother, Louie, have three children, who all love playing the piano. This year, the six kids -- who range in age from 10 to 15 years old -- will perform together onstage for the first time in the American Grands performance at Elgin Community College.

"Once you hear them playing together, it's beautiful," says Baltazar Del Rosario.

And they get a lot of opportunities to do that, as the families only live a few houses away from each other in South Elgin. They also have the same piano teacher, Constance Hughes, an Elgin Community College teacher.

The cousins will be among the 462 pianists, of all ages and skill levels, to perform at American Grands XIX on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Elgin Community College Arts Center's Blizzard Theatre. Performances will be held at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The show will feature pieces ranging from classical works by Handel and Beethoven to more contemporary works, including a piece called "Lady Gaga Fugue," arranged by Giovanni Dettori, that's based on Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Per show tradition, each performance will open with the "Star Spangled Banner" and close with "Star and Stripes Forever."

"It's inspiring to see pianists of all ages come together to perform as a group and celebrate their love of this instrument," says show music director Larry Dieffenbach.

Twelve grand pianos, provided by event sponsor Cordogan's Pianoland in Geneva, will grace the stage for the production. Most pieces feature 24 performers, two per piano, onstage performing simultaneously. One piece will feature 36 players onstage at once, three per piano. "It's a truly amazing thing to witness," Dieffenbach says.

Playing together helps the kids perform better, says Baltazar Del Rosario. "They motivate themselves more because they don't want to let their partner down," he says.

His children -- Izabella, 11, Jaden, 12, and Caleb, 13 -- have been spending lots of time lately at their cousins' house, practicing with Louie's children, Gabriel, 10, Ashriel, 12, and Danyelle, 15.

The youngest of the group, Gabriel, called his first live performance "scary," but says he now loves the excitement of it, as well as being near his cousins. "It's really cool because we live so close to each other and we like hanging out together," he says. "It's really fun."

Gabriel's father, Louie, sees another benefit. "It's something I'm sure will make them better people, being able to perform in front of a big crowd," he says.

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