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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
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Producer Sam Pilafian, trombonist Domingo Pagliuca, pianist Paulina Leisring, Steve Leisring, and Brock Babcock, at the University of Kansas recital hall.

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, who died 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.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

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Laura Spencer caught the radio bug more than a decade ago when she was asked to read a newscast on the air on her first day volunteering for KOOP, the community radio station in Austin, Texas.