Tag Archives: pianist

Carol Comune

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I had the privilege of interviewing pianist, composer and teacher Carol Comune back in August, 2012. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. It seemed like a great idea therefore to catch up  – see what’s changed in Carol’s life and learn more about her current projects. A heartfelt thank you to Carol for yet another fascinating insight into her life as a pianist and composer. The original interview can be read here.Enjoy! – Malan Wilkinson
1. Which living pianists do you admire today and why?

There are countless musicians all over the world and it is a very difficult to have to choose my favorite but a few whom I admire the most are Andre Mehmari a native of Brazil – who I think is one of the most multi-talented pianist/composer of both classical and jazz/pop genres, of his time; and Christopher O’Reilly – a colleague of mine from the New England Conservatory of Music. I have learned so much from him and am constantly inspired by his amazing repertoire and versatility he brings as a host to NPR’s From the Top, as well as his own well-known piano arrangements of songs by alternative artists.

However, there is one man who, although no longer with us, was (and is) probably one of the most influential person in my career and life: Anthony Di Bonaventura. As a student at NEC, I found myself becoming frustrated with my playing and needed guidance if my studies were to continue. Bonaventura, a pupil of the celebrated Russian teacher Madame Isabelle Vengerova, took me under his wing and changed the way I saw not only music, but relationships and life. Anthony and Me138Through the Vegerova technique, I found new purpose and drive that has made me the pianist, composer, and teacher I am today. I can still hear his voice in my mind when I practice, and now I hear myself speak in the same manners as he did, to my own students.

What is even more wonderful are the accomplishments that my students are making individually through competitions and annual performances- thanks to Anthony Di Bonaventura.

 

2. Can you shed light on your current projects and concert schedule?

My latest and new projects:

My latest composition, The Nightingale was debuted at the Kaleidoscope Series at Rider University this past Spring 2015. I started this piece back in 2006 when my daughter was just 9 years old while we were still reading fairy tales and creativity was a huge factor in our lives. I did not, however, anticipate the adversities of raising a child that made me put this lovely story on hold until I could find the space to revive and eventually complete.
Composing has always been a gift that I could never take for granted, since the age of eight. I am a sporadic writer though the music is continuously turning in my head until I have the time to write it down, creating my next piece.

My music Variations for Piano on O God, Our Help in Ages Past (18th century Hymn of William Croft) was performed by a wonderful pianist and colleague Paul Kenyon -The concert is being presented to raise awareness and financial support for the Community Christian Service Agency, “an ecumenical organization of Christian Churches providing assistance to persons having emergency needs.” Dr. Kenyon’s program will include classical piano repertoire from across three centuries and is inspired by sacred themes of worship and praise. Starting with the music of J. S. Bach and progressing through works of Franz Liszt and more recent compositions by myself and Kirsten Shetler. In addition, this year I received the Hall of Fame Award from my high school, Watchung Hill Regional High School. It warms my heart to think that I might be inspirational for students who aspire to have a career in music!

As for upcoming projects, I do have a new venture that I would like to start on this year. I plan on composing a documentary based on a local Chinese folk song that will portray my daughter’s journey from China to growing up in the US. All of the families that I met in China in 1998 have kept in touch through Facebook and now our daughters have graduated and are off to college this Fall for an amazing journey. I just want to have pictures and music in the background for an intimate chamber piece. In 2016, I will be performing on a Westminster Conservatory Faculty Series “Captivating Imagination Through Musical Storytelling” in Bristol Chapel, Princeton, NJ.

 

3. How has your life as a pianist and musician changed since I last interviewed you back in August, 2012?

Since my last interview with Pianists from the Inside, I have devoted countless hours on educating myself with better ways to promote myself through social media. I have found it to be quite exciting how one can connect with the world and have met so many talented musicians in the process. Through my colleagues and even some of my students, I have learned so much, so quickly about technology it is really quite amazing.

As an entrepreneur who runs two companies, (Elegant Entertainment & Co. and Comune Music Press) as well as a private practice, my upcoming year is still unpredictable. I am maintaining my private studio as well as teaching at several accredited institutions, but I also hope to take on new ventures as they come. As I have mentioned before, I have found social media and the internet in general to be paramount to maintaining my business. I am now a part of websites that reach all over the world, allowing me to network with artists near and far. Doing this has also allowed me to take the time to listen to my colleagues and competitors regarding their businesses and music. I have been able to build my fanbase with Reverbnation; Pandora and now the new launch of Apple Music!

One website that has made a profound difference in my business is, about.me. It is a personal web hosting service co-founded by Ryan Freitas, Tony Conrad and Tim Young in October 2009. The site offers registered users a simple platform from which they can search a database of online identities like their own, relevant external sites, and have access to popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter Tumblr, and YouTube.

Within the year that I started using about.me, I have accumulated over 150,000 views and increased my fan base greatly – and furthermore, increasing sales.

I have published (Comune Music Press) and scored two new compositions for solo piano : Farm of Dreams and Reflections for the older student who would like to play a more popular/classic style or better known as New Age. I am in the process of scoring, The Nightingale – based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson.

 

Some other accomplishments…

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My daughter Gealyn (16) and I had the honor of performing Mosaic for 2 pianos for Dianne Goolkasian Rahbee’s 75th Birthday Celebration Marathon with musicians from all over the world performing her music – River’s School Conservatory, Weston, MA.

Kaleidoscope Chamber Series: Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ
Kaleidoscope Chamber Series presents “Ensemble for New Music,” featuring recent compositions by Westminster Conservatory composers. This Westminster Conservatory faculty series is dedicated to chamber music of all centuries, placing emphasis of repertoire that explores the tone colors made possible when voice and instruments from different musical families – string, woodwinds, brass, or keyboard – are combined. I have had the opportunity and privilege to debut my original compositions and collaborate with my colleagues annually. It gives me a lot of inspiration just knowing there is this wonderful venue to work towards.

Student Accomplishments

Westminster Conservatory – Honors Program keeps me extremely busy during the academic year coaching chamber ensembles and piano performance classes. I enjoy researching new music each year and discovering living composers to feature at the Young Artist concerts. I also accompany the Woodwind scholarship competitions early spring with challenging repertoire. In the past few years, I have become involved in several piano competitions including, but not limited to, New Jersey’s Music Fest. As a faculty member of the Westminster Conservatory, I am able to prepare my students for Music Fest-Rising Talent Competition. I have had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place winners for Solo and Chamber pieces culminating with performances in prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall (Kaufman Center) in NYC.

4. How do you believe Piano music makes a difference in people’s lives?

hqdefaultI never really had an agenda when I started composing music in a marketable manner. It was about the time in my life where I settled down and experienced new chapters in my life- as a wife, mother and composer. Having a life and a family in the beautiful town of Jupiter, FL was much more relaxing compared to my residency in Boston for 20 years and growing up in a family of seven outside of NYC.

I felt like a child at the age of 40; snorkeling, kayaking, and just loving living an outdoor lifestyle in tropical weather 24/7. There was something about my reaction to the change in scenery that allowed my creativity to flow and I found myself writing for 10 hours a day for years.

My music has had many outlets from background music to being played during the birth of a child, to the Chemo ward of Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown, NJ.

There was a time when I was recovering from major surgery and my colleague and compositional teacher lent me a music book of French Carol’s and Gregorian chants from the 16th century. After my recovery and from listening to and playing through the music I was given, I wrote like there was no tomorrow from the source of energy it had given me and ended up creating, Season of the Light- a collection of Advent and Christmas carols, Gregorian chants to 16th Century French and Traditional for voice, trumpet and piano.

Every year during the Holiday Season, I challenge myself to compose a new setting and send as a Seasonal Greeting card..it makes me feel good and my colleagues are always pleasured by the inspiration.

On a lighter side I was asked to play New Age/ classical music for a candlelight dinner affair at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA. The dinner tables were in a spiral set-up surrounding penguins who were making quite a racket before I began playing. Within 30 minutes you could not hear the penguins anymore and the keepers of the Aquarium became concern and to their surprise found all the penguins either resting, asleep or caressed in another penguins lap…some even looked like they fell in love. So, my music apparently had quite an effect in the almost amusing manner that evening!

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Vladimir Horowitz

By Gerrits, Roland / Anefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gerrits, Roland / Anefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Masters Series …  Some wise words from a great pianist, an idol of mine  – Vladimir Horowitz.

I must tell you I take terrible risks. Because my playing is very clear, when I make a mistake you hear it. If you want me to play only the notes without any specific dynamics, I will never make one mistake. Never be afraid to dare.’

– Vladimir Horowitz

The film contains mainly performances of classical works, but also provides an intimate look into Horowitz’s private life. A real must see!

INTERVIEWER: “Who is your favourite of all? ”

VH: “This one, no! This and this … those two!”

“Don’t be afraid! Say Rachmaninoff!”

VH: “Rachmaninoff is a pianist! I play with him … Rachmaninoff … He was a wonderful pianist and nice friend. He was my best friend… First of all he was composer, pianist and conductor. Three things at one, and first class all three, I think so…”

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Julian Toha

“Julian reflects a new generation of performers”  Michael Edwards (NFMC)

‪I believe that a renaissance is on the verge of happening in the classical music world and it is just a matter of collecting the right group of star-quality artists to lead the way… Julian Toha

When and how did your interest in music and the piano start?

‪Lessons were setup for my brother to learn and at the time I was just becoming a teenager. I thought that I’d also like to make an attempt at learning piano.

Recent work …

‪Most recently I completed a US tour consisting of about 80 concerts and events. On tour, our team and I presented a one-hour multimedia concert that included dance video, installations, soundscapes and newly commissioned piano works that were wrapped in a loose narrative.

Below – Immersion Tour 2013-14 Teaser | Pianist Julian Toha 

‪Challenges faced …

‪As a pianist there are many challenges especially in the world we live in: cultural impact, tour logistics, life/work balance and creative development. I wouldn’t say that there was a single event that towers over the steady stream of challenges, but instead there is difficulty in dealing with substantial issues like life/work balance at the same time as setting up a tour and flourishing creatively. This profession, just like any other, is at the highest levels extremely demanding.

‪Influences …

‪Other pianists are always interesting to listen to and learn from, but I find most inspiration in artists, dance companies and composers. People who I especially enjoy would be Gerhard Richter,The Hofesh Shechter Company, Dale Chihuly,  and Carl Vine among others.

‪Any advice to young pianists who wish to pursue careers as concert pianists?

 

Julian Toha Credit - http://www.juliantoha.com/about/

Julian Toha
Credit – http://www.juliantoha.com/about/

 

‪I believe that a renaissance is on the verge of happening in the classical music world and it is just a matter of collecting the right group of star-quality artists to lead the way. At the moment, there is an abundance of non-artist performers who aspire to climb the ranks, but those who create a truly compelling voice will be brought in as the leaders of the industry.

‪Do what you’re passionate about and blend it with your love for music. Only when you are being yourself can you become a standout among thousands of virtuosi.

Hopes for the future …

‪At the moment, I have shifted my focus towards music education and I’d like to tackle some of the major issues in the field. I feel that right now is the time for technology to alter the music education industry and improve upon many of the traditions of the past. As we approach the technological singularity, music education is more important than any other time in history – it is shaping the creative minds that will determine the future.

Julian Toha Inspira – This image is from one of many children workshops that Julian Toha does on tour.

W: www.juliantoha.com

Y: http://www.yelp.com/biz/pacific-piano-school-san-jose

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pianistjuliantoha

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Chenyin Li

Chenyin LiMotivation…

I think there was a time when I realised that playing piano was the best thing I cold do. It is also what fulfils me to the fullest extent. And let’s be honest, with all  brilliant and wonderful piano repertoire it is easy to be tempted. I guess that another aspect is what the stage brings, though sometimes it can be terrifying, it also gives you that rare opportunity to connect with people whom you would never have the chance to interact otherwise. This mutual appreciation makes you feel that you are a part of something great. Finally it is the music itself, as obvious as it sounds, this is what attracts me the most in life.

Do you have a career highlight? 

I hope there is one still yet to come! However few years back playing a solo recital at the Royal Festival Hall in London was a pretty special occasion. And I’m soon to be engaged to play with the Chinese National Symphony Orchestra at the National Grand Theatre located in Tiananmen Square later this year. As a native Chinese living abroad for many years, that is very exciting.

 How did you discover music? 

I think it must have been a gradual realisation over the years, though I was fortunate enough to be admitted to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing from a very early age. From there I received the best possible training I could have at the time and working with very inspiring music teachers (Bi Gang Chen, Zhong Hui) who influenced me a lot in deciding to become a pianist.

Influences…

I owe every success to my professors, Tamas Vesmas and Joan Havill, are both fantastic musicians and teachers who came from lineage of eminent music icons: Nadia Boulanger; Louis Kentner; Florica Musicescu (Dinu Lipatti’s teacher) to name a few.

Has Chinese culture and education played a role in your development as a pianist?

Generally Chinese people have a deep-rooted sense of discipline and great working ethos, both qualities paramount to early piano training. And to define what is the Chinese culture it seems a too difficult and large topic. One must not forget, China has a long history of cultural diversity, religions and the fact that several dynasties ruling parties were not Chinese. So it is perhaps not a complete surprise that contrary to what many western people think, there are many thriving Chinese artists working in  the field of traditional Western music nowadays.

copyright(C)chenyinli.com

What are your plans for 2013?

I will keep enjoying my collaboration as soloist recording for the music publication ‘Pianist Magazine’; a tour in my home country at the end of the year with other concert activities as usual; and learn more Rachmaninov pieces!

Any advice for young pianists?

Don’t change teachers too quickly or frequently, as it often can be more damaging to a young pianists development. Be persistent, hard-working and always try to better yourself, and be grateful that we are able to pursue what we love to do.

http://chenyinli.com/index2.html

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Evgeny Kissin

Joe Buckingham - Flikr - Under the Creative commons license

Merry Christmas to all PFTI readers.
Photo – Joe Buckingham – Flikr – Under the Creative commons license

I love this Wallcast!The second clip in a new series of pianist interviews shared on a Monday as part of The Masters Series.

Great work once again by MediciTV.

It’s a chance for me to share my favourite pianist interviews published on YouTube. Enjoy!

What is your favourite word?

E.KISSIN – “I don’t know, but I remember that when I was a child – one of my school teachers was complaining that I was saying ‘thank you’ too often and tried to make me say it less often.”

 

 

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Martha Argerich

The first in a new series of pianist interviews shared on a Monday night The Masters Series. 

It’s a chance for me to share my favourite pianist interviews published on YouTube. Enjoy!

“What was your first contact with music? “

M.A – It was a game I think. I went to kindergarten – I was extremely young  because I was sort of precocious and I could speak very well. I was 2 and 8 months and so there was someone playing the piano – the teacher and so I heard these children songs, so I was repeating them on the piano. That was the very first… it was a game of course, to play.

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David Ianni

(PART 1)

What motivates you to play piano?

My love for music has shaped my whole life, and it literally draws me to the piano almost every day.

I think about music most of the time, I hear music in my head, even if I am not playing the piano or listening to music. Music is holy to me and I consider it a blessing to be able to play the music by the great masters and to compose my own music.

What motivates you to compose? 

Performing classical music is a wonderful thing, and I couldn’t live without it. However, since I started to play the piano, there has also been this strong urge to create my own music. I wanted to play a kind of music that I could not find in piano literature, so I made it up myself.

My music tries to express the deepest and nameless realms of my soul. There is a sacred space of peace inside every person. I suppose that this sphere of the human interior is a common experience to every human being. That’s why people can connect to my music quite easily. There is a sense of yearning and of fulfillment at the same time.

In essence I feel that my music is prayer. If it helps my listener to communicate with God (or whatever they may call their Creator), I will feel myself all the more richly rewarded.

When did you start composing and why?

I learned to play the piano at nine and started to compose at the same time. It came very naturally. I knew that I wanted to be a composer. Improvising was not enough for me: I was fascinated by the architecture of music and I wanted to evolve and refine my musical ideas in a way that is only possible through composition. The marriage between content and form in music is absolutely fascinating. The emotional impact that music has on us, does not only come through melody and harmony, but mainly through its structure.

The musical ideas that I first hear when I write a new piece, are always part of a bigger architecture, and it is my mission as a composer to “discover” the whole piece. Usually beautiful and perfect proportions will reveal themselves if I only work and listen long enough.

David Ianni

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://davidianni.com

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