Monthly Archives: July 2012

Julien Beurms

Julien Beurms

What motivates you to play Piano?

I guess many other musicians have already told you this but music is definitely a school of life. When you are a musician, your passion will bring you up to your limits. Music may have a universal message or a message more intimate and personal, but in both cases, it touches you deeply within your soul since music is begins where words end.

I can get more information about a person by listening to him play five minutes of music rather than talking to him for two hours. If this person has a fineness of spirit, a certain humility or a passionate devotion, I’ll find it all very quickly in his piano playing.

Music can lead us into worlds unknown to us, as good literature can make you experience very intense situations you have never experienced in your real life. I am very pleased to be able to share all this beautiful music with my audience and I try to do justice to everything contained in this music.

Playing the piano is for me the way to achieve this, and it permits me to continue my quest of truth.

Victor Rosenbaum…

Many people have influenced me as a pianist and as a human being, and I am afraid I could forget to mention one of them.

The most powerful influence definitely comes from Victor Rosenbaum, a fabulous pianist and teacher with whom I have been very lucky to study. His open-mindedness and his musical knowledge inspired me in such an extent that I have been reconsidering many points of view I had before.

The role of interpreter goes along with an  enormous responsibility and we have to care about everything we undertake, we also have to know why we are doing it. It requires an ability to be very critical with ourselves and it requires a desire to always pursue our quest of truth.

Earliest memory involving piano playing? 



One of the first pieces I played was the Sonata KV 545 in C Major by Mozart. It was one of those pieces my mother taught me when I started playing piano.

I still don’t understand how she succeeded in teaching me this piece since I had never been in contact with a piano before. I got a very comfortable feeling at the piano, it gave me the desire to play more and more.

 Proudest career moment to date? 



One of my proudest career moment is funnily also one of the earliest performance I gave as a child. At the age of 12, I got the chance to make my orchestral debut in the Second Piano Concerto of Chopin, with the youth orchestra of my music school. It was one of the first time I collaborated with other musicians. I remember being very impressed by the orchestral sound surrounding the piano, but I keep a marvelous memory of this feeling. We had many rehearsals and the concert was great!

 In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a great 

pianist? 

 In my opinion, a great pianist must be patient, humble, open-minded and above all, passionate.

The biggest challenge overcome

I remember learning the Sonata in F-Sharp Minor by Schumann in a very short time. I had to prepare it very quickly for an audition, and it was the first time for me to assimilate so much music (almost 40 minutes of music) in a few days. I learned many things from that experience, and my audition went very well!

http://www.julienbeurms.com/

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Fiona Bennett

 

Fiona Bennett – photo credit – Chris Paine

What motivates you to play Piano? 

 The reasons have changed over the years.  When I was a teenager, my motivation was to be good enough to get into one of the London music colleges and of course, I had lots of time to practise.  Before recording my new CD ‘A Country Suite’, I had to do a lot of practise because I hadn’t played professionally since 1991.  Working in piano bars and hotels really ruined my enjoyment of playing and once I’d give up doing that kind of work, I hardly played the piano at all.

Did you enjoy your time at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama? 

Yes, I did although it was very hard work and quite stressful at times.  I believe they auditioned 500 people for the 40 places on our course so there was a lot of pressure.  Luckily I was a good pianist, a reasonably good trumpet player, I sang well and my auditions went like a dream.  Then the hard work started and I was totally immersed in music for the next three years.  Sometimes, you go from being the best pianist at your school to being one of many good pianists at Music College and that’s a reality check in itself!

Did anyone create a special impression on you/why? 

Harold Dexter was the Head of the Music Graduate course and I was lucky enough to be in his GM (General Musicianship) group.  Two hours of composition, score reading, sight reading and sight singing every Wednesday morning.  We had to get up really early to be at college by 9am, it was not my favourite morning of the week but he was a very interesting and clever man and he worked us hard.  Some weeks, as well as practising our first study instrument (piano, in my case) and second study instrument (trumpet), we also had to compose several pieces of music, write pieces in the style of e.g. J.S. Bach, score a piece for orchestra and conduct the graduate orchestra or choir too. It was a fantastic course but it was hard work.

Influence…

I have absorbed many styles over the years and these are a few of the most obvious influences.  They are many and varied and they are all genuinely important influences in my song writing and compositional styles: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Abba, Barry Manilow,  Puccini, Rachmaninov and Schumann.

Earliest memory involving composing? 

My dad knew I was a good pianist and when I was 15, he suggested I try my hand at song writing.  I said ‘No, I couldn’t  do that sort of thing’ but he persevered and when I was 16, I appeared on BBC Cymru (the Welsh language version of BBC Wales), performing a song I had written called ‘Ti a Mi’.  This song has earned me more royalties than anything else I’ve ever written.  It was a huge thrill to sing my own song, accompanying myself at the piano and performing with members of the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra.

Proudest career moment to date? 

This is tough, there are several.  One which sticks in my mind (although it does not involve my song writing or compositional skills) is singing in the choir at the Royal Albert Hall during the UK leg of the Barry Manilow world tour in 1982.  He needed good singers to perform his song ‘One Voice’ and myself and my then boyfriend were offered the chance to sing.  It was such an exciting week; we saw the show every night and sang onstage with Barry and his fantastic band at the end of the show.  I’ve appeared on national TV a few times.  ‘New Faces of ‘87’ and The Alan Titchmarsh Show (2010).  I also had songs in the final of ‘Cân i Gymru’ (Song for Wales) in 1988 and 1998 which was a thrill.

 

A Country Suite – Fiona Bennett

Can you tell us more about ‘A Country Suite’, the inspiration behind it?

‘A Country Suite’ comprises six short pieces for piano, each a snapshot of country life in the late 19th century.  The inspiration came from two things.  The first is the drive which takes me to my son’s school each morning, through the lovely Berkshire countryside.

The changing of the seasons is something which fascinates and never ceases to amaze me. The way the countryside closes down in the winter time and comes back to life in the spring is nothing short of a miracle.  Life was tough then, if you had a bad harvest, you couldn’t just pop out to the shops and buy provisions, you just had to make do with what you did have.  The third movement ‘The Harvest’ is full of joy, it tells of a good harvest and you hear the church bells ringing out in celebration.

I am also a huge fan of costume drama e.g. Lark Rise to Candleford and Cranford and these television shows were also a part of the inspiration for ‘A Country Suite’.

Why write for piano?  

The piano is ‘my’ instrument.  I’ve played the piano since I was four years of age, it’s a natural extension of my body.  It’s the most wonderful instrument , you can replace the orchestra with a piano for rehearsal purposes (opera and ballet)

and as my dad has always said “If you can play the piano, you’ll never starve”

Up until 1997, I had never had much responsibility.  I hadn’t  planned to have children, Dominic (who was born in 1998) was a honeymoon surprise baby and it was a huge shock to find out I was pregnant.  It took me a while to get used to being a mother, having had so much freedom for over 35 years of my life.  Dominic’s brother arrived in 2002 and in 2006, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism.  It was a black day but I set out to find out as much as possible about autism and he’s now 10 years old and doing well in a mainstream school.  There was a huge gap between the last piece I wrote in 1997 (the folk song ‘Tymhorau’ which is Track 9 on the ‘A Country Suite’ album) and ‘A Country Suite’ which I composed in 2011 because I just had to shelve the music in favour of supporting Zachary.

When you’re a full time mum to two boys, one of whom is on the autistic spectrum, it’s hardly surprising that the tunes don’t flow as well as they used to!

 

Fiona and Zachary

‘Music speaks to your soul’

Music is a language.  It can speak to people.  It’s a well known fact that music can reach children and adults in a way spoken language cannot.  The benefits of music therapy have been proved time and time again and there are special courses to teach people how to use music to help others.  I know the effect music has on me, the third act of the opera ‘La Boheme’ by Puccini never fails to reduce me to tears, not just because the story is so sad but because the music is so stunningly beautiful.  There is one phrase where Mimi and Rodolfo are singing together and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to listen to it without crying.  My son Zachary is brutally honest (as are most children on the autistic spectrum) and if he doesn’t like something, he will tell me very bluntly. 

I knew ‘A Country Suite’ had something special about it when Zachary asked me to play it for him as he was falling asleep – instead of his Jessie J album!  Now that is a real compliment!  Music is magical, music speaks to your soul, it can tell a story and it is timeless and everlasting.

How competitive has your music experience been?   

I don’t really think of music as being competitive although I have taken part in some competitions such as TV talent shows and musical festivals (Eisteddfodau) in Wales.  I suppose I had to compete to get into the Guildhall and I must have been pretty good in those days (late 1970s/early 1980s) because the competition was stiff and I passed my audition and was offered a place (and a grant) based on my audition.  They didn’t even ask me for A levels, they were happy with my O level grades and my audition.  I am not a hugely competitive person although I can be quite determined if I believe strongly in something.  I believe very strongly in the appeal of my new album ‘A Country Suite’ and the follow up suite ‘The New Lady Radnor Suite’ is also very melodic and accessible.  It’s dedicated to my friend, the present Lady Radnor and the movements include ‘Melissa’s Theme’, ‘Longford Castle’ (the family home), ‘The Nursery’ (for her six children and all the children who have lived at Longford Castle over the centuries), ‘On The Banks Of The Avon’ (the castle is on the banks of the River Avon and this is a highly descriptive piece) and ‘The Radnor Rag’, a tribute to the great Scott Joplin.

Do you have any advice for other composers? 

I think it’s the advice I would give myself which is, if you really believe your music is worthwhile and that people will want to hear it, keep knocking on doors until someone says ‘Come in, I like your music too’.

Aspirations for the future?

My main priority is my two sons, Dominic and Zachary.  I am 50 years of age and they are still so young, just 14 and 10 years old respectively so it will be a while yet before they are able to look after themselves.

Musically, I would like recognition for being a composer of melodies which, once heard, stick in your mind.  I love to hear my children humming a tune and realising it’s one of mine.

 “I have listened to your CD and really enjoyed your music. It is simultaneously rooted in the past but evocative of the time in which we live. I wish you every success.” Patrick Hawes, composer

www.fionabennettmusic.co.uk

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Rekesh Chauhan

How has Indian culture and classical music shaped your technique and career?

Indian culture and music has had a huge impact on my playing and style.

My father is a vocalist, so I suppose having grown up with the influence of Indian Classical Music it eventually found its way reflected within my playing. I began my initial training by learning to play the harmonium (popular hand-pumped instrument played in India) and early on I studied western classical guitar, after I went on to learn the Piano – eventually I ended up amalgamating and adapting the style of Indian Classical Music onto the Piano.

You’ll find that my the majority of my recitals incorporate many of the fundamental elements of Indian Classical Music Ragas (Modes) and Taals (Rhythmic cycles) parallel with western harmonies- the Piano allows plenty of scope to explore Indian Classical Music.

‘Influences’ 

I’ll try not to sound typical, but every artist I have come across has inspired me; I believe there is something unique that every person has to offer.

Appreciably, my father, who has been my teacher, has been a huge influence. I try to listen to and spend time with musicians from everywhere; there is always something inspiring to hear from each individual. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown and performed with a variety of artists, this has had an influence on my listening palette too.

Earliest memory involving piano playing?



Learning to play a folk song on the harmonium and being put on the spot to play it on national radio!

Proudest career moment?

Performing as a solo concert pianist at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

I remember growing up spending many weekends watching some of the world’s finest musicians performing concerts there. In particular I remember one night as a kid going to see Lang Lang perform there and daydream that I would have the opportunity to perform my own concert on that very same stage, little did I know it was around the corner!

Can you tell us about one of your favourite concert venues and why?

There’s so many, but if I had to pick one, Ronnie Scotts in Soho, London.

I played there with Tabla player Talvin Singh a few years back. There is an incredible energy in that space, it’s very intimate in a way that you immediately feel very much more connected with the audience.

In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a great
 pianist?

There are so many important qualities to choose from, but if I had to pick one out, it would be for the individual to be themselves.

Focus and listening are definitely important too but it can be so easy to get engrossed in the technical aspects that sometimes you can forget to just let go! Letting the music reflect your personality is one of the beauties an instrument can offer. It’s central that the technical application is executed but also learning to let go and let your heart do the playing is just as important.

I would love to see more young pianists on the concert circuit exploring world music styles, I do always find that I’m playing to audiences older than me!

“Music of just absolute beauty” – Bobby Friction, BBC Asian Network

www.rekeshchauhan.com

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Andrew Staupe

‘I love music immensely’

The idea of motivation to practice and perform is outwardly a simple question, but actually a very interesting question to answer. The ‘obvious’ answer would be because I love music immensely, I fell in love with the piano early on, and I cannot separate myself from music and performance. While this is all true, it is not the whole story and I’m going to focus on other things that may not be as obvious.

I am motivated by many things in regards to performing piano, and some are related to the above and some are more practical. Starting with the easiest: professional piano performance has become my primary life focus, where all of my energies are devoted, and also is my principal form of income; clearly, in order to survive I need to make a living and doing what I’m best at is of chief importance. Therefore keeping in top shape (ie practicing!) is mandatory, and is one motivation to play. As someone said to me a while back, “you are replaceable,” and in this cutthroat business it is vital to be the best you can possibly be.

But this involves the practical. Now for the deeper answers to your question. At this point in my life, having played professionally since I was 18, I cannot see myself in another career and do not wish to do anything but perform onstage. Obviously there are smaller things within the music business I enjoy doing, but there is an unquenchable desire within me to continue forward and nothing else can replace that. When I am in top technical shape there is no feeling quite like that and I feel like I can do anything and express everything.

I love achievement and ambition, and this career is filled with very tangible ways to gauge accomplishment and growth. Not to mention that the piano literature is so vast and amazing; it’s like exploring new worlds every time one selects new repertoire!

There are many reasons why I continue performing, but many are hidden impulses and desires that cannot be satisfied with any other career. Maybe I was born to play the piano?

‘Teachers’

 My teachers occupy the most important influences in their own ways: Bettye Ware, Lydia Artymiw, and Jon Kimura Parker. But other musicians and individuals have inspired me to climb higher and reach for a greater level of artistry.

My first teacher, Bettye Ware, quickly recognized that I wanted to achieve great things even when I couldn’t do them at the time. She was able to balance my ambitions (ie wanting to play Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Concerto a few months after starting up piano again) with fundamentals, in order for me to stay interested but also gaining necessary theory and technique. Concert pianist Lydia Artymiw was my teacher and mentor from 2002-2008, and it was with her that I learned what it took to become a concert pianist: hard work, ceaseless ambition, core conviction, large repertoire, and everything else one assumes a concert pianist possesses. She was very tough on me at times, and I needed it, but she was and continues to be supportive of me and is one of my most cherished mentors. Her example as a top pianist also helped inspire me; I wanted to be like her and worked hard to try and do what she could do onstage.

Jon Kimura Parker has been my teacher at Rice University since 2008, and I learned a lot from his example as a concert pianist. He has a slightly different pedagogical approach from Lydia, but both are equally gifted as performers and teachers and I gained a lot from both. Since I was older and more experienced while studying with him, he inspired me to search for my own personal expressions and gave me the necessary breathing room to develop independently as a maturing artist.

There are many, many people that have inspired me: my girlfriend and amazing cellist Caroline Nicolas, Robert Neu (Vice President, Minnesota Orchestra) has supported me immensely through my career, my brilliant friend and professional colleague Lindsay Brown, the composers Christopher Walczak and Christopher Goddard, and so many others. The music world is small and completely connected, so everyone can and does influence me.

Earliest memory …

There aren’t that many, since I started much later than most concert pianists.

I used to take private lessons at the Nativity of Our Lord school in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from a nun in a convent near the school.

I remember sitting in the basement waiting room for my brother to finish his lesson, and begin myself. I was nervous to say the least, because she was quite strict! Soon after this, I gave up piano for a number of years before I started up again with newfound dedication.

‘Mountain range’

There are many career moments that are particularly memorable, and I can’t single out just one. I think of a music career like a mountain range: many peaks and many valleys. Some peaks are higher and more majestic than others, but they’re all vital and important. Recently, some major ‘peaks’ have been my solo debut at Carnegie Hall, performing with major symphony orchestras (Minnesota, San Diego, Houston), my Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut, and performing with top artists (Martin Chalifour, Desmond Hoebig, Chee-Yun) in concert. But there is not one single ‘Mount Everest’ so to speak!

Pro Musicis

Pro Musicis is a wonderful organization that sponsors top artists in major concert venues such as Carnegie Hall. But it’s more than that: the founder, Fr. Merlet, recognizes the transformative power of music as a means for good. All Pro Musicis artists play additional concerts for the poor, for the sick, and for the imprisoned. Many major concert artists number among the alumni of this wonderful organization, and I’m very proud to be a member myself. I hope that Pro Musicis continues it’s wonderful mission for many more years!

Tips for aspiring pianists

Some of the most important qualities of a concert pianist I can think of:

a. mental and physical stamina

        To be a concert pianist means testing one’s own stamina to the limits. It is not a 9-to-5 job, and enormous stress almost always accompanies the task of performing onstage.

Mental stamina involves dealing with performance anxiety, playing large or new works in front of an audience from memory, and trying to maintain an artistic ‘vitality’ or freshness after repeated performances. Physical stamina is obvious: it is extremely taxing to perform onstage, period. Fatigue, pain, and chronic pain can result from too much work. People often say that correct technique means one can play Rachmaninoff as much as they like, but clearly they were not a touring pianist. I rebut that statement by stating “if one has perfect walking technique, and walks 70 miles in one day, they’re absolutely going to be fatigued tomorrow.” I stress the importance of physical fitness in performing for a living, much like a professional athlete. Active rest, massage, managing fatigue, and listening to one’s body in practice are all extremely important.

b. unwavering dedication and ambition

The music business is ridiculously competitive, and many people are trying to gain those few spots onstage. It involves many successes, but many more disappointments too. Unless one can deal with rejection, do not try this career. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted for amazing performing opportunities, only to have them give the concert to someone else without notifying me. This gets difficult, and you have to maintain a positive outlook or cynicism is right around the corner. Also, you need to have very real goals in order to stay in the lonely practice room day after day!

c. people skills

   I can’t stress this enough! Music is people oriented, and if you can’t get along with your audience, your conductor, your chamber music group, your interviewer, you are in for trouble. No one will want to hire you, play with you, or hear you.

You need to be yourself of course, but getting along with people in this business is a huge deal.

d. music business/marketing skills

Even if you have a manager, this is a starting line. Keeping a website in top form, contacting orchestras, networking, and creating new performance opportunities are necessary aspects of a professional career. I’ve personally contacted hundreds of orchestras, professional organizations, and kept in touch with countless people in the business. Practicing is only one small facet of creating and sustaining a real music career.

e. memory/technique

These are basic requirements in the varied arsenal of a concert pianist. The majority of pieces one performs in public as a pianist have to be memorized, and a smart pianist will create ways to memorize faster and more securely. I’ve used my knowledge of music theory and structure to aid in solid memorization, but each artist is different and needs to devise personal solutions.

Having a solid technique is absolutely basic, enough said. Much of it is developed through proper training, but top artists seem to possess a fluidity and naturalism that is either there or not. Imagine the greatest athletes, and compare their form and abilities to the millions more that play these sports. Everyone trains in the same way, and yet only the most advanced achieve legendary things. While performing at the highest level challenges even the toughest pianists, that extra natural talent and technique can make all the difference.

f. unquenchable love of music/sharing it

One needs to have an unquenchable love of music to carry through the multitude of challenges, stresses, and disappointments that a music career can throw at you. Furthermore, the intrinsic desire to share music with others is what a performer is all about. An artist finds his/her voice through music, no matter what setbacks occur. Nothing can replace this in an artist, and a ceaseless drive to communicate is the fuel one needs.

g. artistic imagination

     Music is more than technique, and it is usually the imagination of an artist that is the most memorable thing to audiences.

One needs solid technique in order to express every possible emotion, but it is essentially the words and grammar that allows a Shakespeare to create masterpieces. A concert pianist needs a huge imagination, fueled by an intellectual understanding of the music performed, to create memorable and touching performances.

Challenges

There are so many challenges that face an aspiring concert pianist, and piano playing in general. Off the top of my head:

1. Physical requirements: The piano is a very physical instrument, and it is quite a workout when performing a major concerto with orchestra. The sheer amount of notes, as compared with other instruments, makes it extremely difficult to perform onstage. Additionally, the large dynamic range possible on the piano makes for difficulties in stamina; the loudest fortissimos of Rachmaninoff can quickly tire the muscles of the forearm and shoulder.

2. Mental requirements: memorization of nearly everything, the stress of performing a solo recital without anyone onstage, and many other factors take a toll on the mind. Without resolve and ambition, it can be too much for even the toughest artists.

3. Musical limitations: The sound of the piano dies quickly, so maintaining a melodic line is quite difficult indeed. Unlike a singer or wind players, a pianist’s playing mechanism is not immediately connected to breath so it is a little more challenging to create a more ‘natural’ singing line. Finally, while the piano can possess nearly limitless tonal possibilities, it can also be tonally banal.

4. Amount of pianists today:

Today, millions of people study piano at an advanced level, and yet there are fewer and fewer performance opportunities. Competition for these select spots is at an all-time high. It is often the extra things mentioned (ie marketing skills, other talents, networking abilities, etc) that can make all the difference.

‘Staupe is a nonhistrionic performer, and this observation is meant as a compliment. A lean young man, he performs upright, with focused concentration. Unmistakable, however, was the sense of seeing a real musician at the starting gate. Judging by the shining moments displayed in Thursday’s performance, this is a career on the rise and a performer to watch.’ – David Hawley

http://www.andrewstaupe.com/

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Rosa Antonelli


‘I felt connected to music right away’

My initial motivation probably came from my mother, who was an opera singer: she was singing all the time during my childhood and so I felt connected to music right away. Also, most of my other family members were musical hobbyists who played different instruments.

But in a mysterious way, I would say that it was the piano, itself. “Mysterious” because something about the instrument attracted me immediately, even before I’d played it: you could say it was love at first sight.

When I went to kindergarten, I saw a grand piano and told my mother that I wanted to play it. She said that after that I spent a lot of time looking at my hands and fingers with great fascination. I had already started dreaming about connecting myself, my fingers, with the instrument.

Influences…

Besides my mother, I would say that the person who most influenced me as a pianist was my first piano teacher. To understand why, it’s necessary to know a bit about my background.

It was not easy for me to pursue my love of music as a child. I did not have my own piano to practice on until I was fourteen years old.

Even though both my parents were from royalty back in Italy, because of the war and moving to Argentina my family lost everything except hope. My mother and I somehow always found a way. My piano teacher saw what a passion I had for the piano and was an angel to me. She had a little guesthouse in the back yard with a piano.

The first piece I learned by Liszt was the Consolation No. 3, and it touched my heart so much I wanted to learn it as fast as I could. My teacher allowed me to practice it in her guesthouse until late at night. To see that I was OK she would look out her window and see a little light and hear the piano. She named me ‘the musical light of the back yard.’ That was my ‘secret place.’ My mother didn’t know where I was and often worried about me. One night when it was particularly late she searched for me and, knowing my habits, went to my piano teacher’s house. My piano teacher pointed to the little light in the back yard and my mother was relieved and happy that I was safe in my ‘secret place.’

 When I was fifteen years old I knew so much of the piano repertoire that I was a prodigy child. My teacher asked me to become her assistant, so I ended up teaching my own classmates. Later on, at the National Conservatory, in which I was the youngest student, my teacher Roberto Caamano was a big influence. Among world-famous pianists, Marta Argerich and Claudio Arrau have been the most inspirational.

Earliest memories involving piano playing?

I remember how much I loved to practice, it was never enough, I always wanted to learn more and more pieces. When my teacher used to organize two or three recitals every year I was always chosen to perform, but of course she would notify my mother first. I remember that nothing else gave me more joy than when I was told that I would be playing in a concert. If my mother said to me, “Oh, I bought you a dress,” I would say, ok [without much enthusiasm]. “I bought you a doll.” [same response] “You have a concert,” and I was the happiest girl in the world: The happiest thing in the world for me was to perform.

Besides annual recitals, my teacher used to take me to a private conservatory where I had an exam every year from the age of six. When it was my turn to play, I remember all the other students and teachers would gather around, ready to listen as if it was a live concert by a famous pianist.

My first public concert was in the Municipal Theater, I was seven years old. My teacher asked me to announce what I was going to play and I remember being very nervous before going onstage, but once there it felt so natural, so comforting, it was the best feeling I could ever have.

‘Artist of extraordinary ability’

I’ve been lucky to have many memorable moments in my career, but among those of which I am proudest was when the United States of America conferred American Citizenship upon me as an artist of extraordinary ability. I felt as if the United States had literally placed their arms around me and asked me to stay in this wonderful country. In a similar way, it gladdened my heart when Steinway’s artist and concert department approached me to add my name to their roster of Steinway artists: They’ve been so helpful to me in many ways.

Other outstanding memories include having had the opportunity to introduce the Scriabin Piano Concerto in many countries around the world, performing on Vladimir Horowitz’s piano, having Georgina Ginastera, the composer’s daughter, attend my concerts when I performed her father’s music, and of course, my recent Carnegie Hall debut.

 Favorite Concert Venues

Having played in many famous halls around the world, it’s clear to me that each has its own special ambiance. When I played in Carnegie Hall I couldn’t help but recall the many famous musicians who have graced its stage, and of course, the acoustics were magnificent. In the same way, at the Palazzo Visconti, in Milan, it was as if I were in the company of Mozart and Liszt, who played there often.

I’d also like to mention my invitation to perform at Chopin’s home in Zalazowa, Poland. While a scheduling conflict prevented me from doing so—I was giving a concert at the Ostrovsky Palace, sponsored by the Chopin Society—I did eventually visit and the experience was overwhelming.

Biggest challenge overcome in piano playing?

It seems to me that there are two sides to this question: One involves becoming the most proficient pianist possible, so that the piano serves as the vehicle for my thoughts and feelings. Only in that way can I communicate in the most direct fashion to my audience. But once I had reached the level expected of a touring artist, I had to overcome challenges that were not purely musical. Primarily, these were related to the political upheavals that periodically threaten some of the countries in which I have performed. For example, I was once detained on suspicion of being a spy and in Israel my “welcome basket” included a gas mask!

Any tips to aspiring concert pianists?

My advice is to cultivate discipline and aspire to reach perfection, even if it is never attainable; not to limit yourself to the piano or even music, but to explore many other areas of the arts.

To pursue the final goal, which is to transmit the composer’s feelings to the audience, to forget about the ego, and to compete only with yourself. If you know this is your passion, never give up, you have a message to communicate.

On October 15th at Carnegie Hall a star was born. Her name is Rosa Antonelli and that name will soon be flashing in lights at all the great concert halls all over the world. I have seen many “greats” at Carnegie Hall including the incomparible Horowitz and Rosa Antonelli is the closest I’ve seen to that master. Rosa’s performance was riveting. The sound was rich and emotionally powerful. Ms. Antonelli’s artistry on stage was absolutely stunning; the musical poetry mesmerizing. The standing ovations were second to none and truly deserved.

– Joe Franklin, Legendary TV talk show host and current Bloomberg talk show host

http://www.rosa-antonelli.com/

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