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Music 1.2: Piano

The following musicians will present on Thursday, May 28, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Catherine N. ’20 - Piano

Sonata in A Minor, Allegro Maestoso, KV 300 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I chose Sonata in A Minor, Allegro Maestoso, KV 300 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, because it is different from anything I've played before. It has such a variety of tones and moods throughout, and it is pretty dramatic in some passages. These qualities made it very interesting for me to explore. It is a very technical piece, which requires precision and speed. It was daunting when I first began to practice it. 

I developed a successful work ethic for practicing this year. Whenever I found myself with free time, I went to the practice rooms, even if it was only for a little bit. I was also more studious when it came to practicing scales and arpeggios. I did find it hard, however, to keep up with the pieces I was learning because I was working on my solo piece and duet pieces at the same time. I performed the duet pieces in more performances and so my focus on my solo wasn't as strong. It became a lot to juggle at some points.

This year, I would say I improved technically. I studied scales and the pieces I practiced required technical work. I mainly focused on this aspect throughout this year.

The performance I did for Opening Convocation was a really good source of inspiration for me throughout this school year. I worked hard to prepare for that performance, and it was actually really fun to play and welcome everyone back to school, even though it was kind of scary. I think that helped me lessen the anxieties that come with performing. Performing isn’t as scary to me anymore.

I look forward to seeing the other seniors in the Emma Artists program and all that they have accomplished in our last year here.


Zoe N. ’20 - Piano

"Prelude" from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy

“Prelude” is part of Suite Bergamasque, one of Debussy's most famous piano solos. What I like about this piece is that it is different from what I usually play. I always play pieces that have very concrete melodies that are easier to follow, but this one was more abstract, which made it difficult for me to learn. I focused a lot on the dynamic contrasts which I think is one of the most important parts of this piece. 

This year I found it difficult to balance school work and practicing, especially with college applications in the fall semester. Practicing did not come as easily to me, so I was not able to progress as much as I wanted to. 

As an artist I think I have grown in being more expressive in my playing. I am becoming more comfortable with performing, whether I am playing a piano solo or playing in orchestra.I have also worked on many duets with my sister, Cate, and it taught me a lot about working together with someone else to bring a piece to life, as well as having fun while doing it. 
In the future I hope to be able to continue playing piano and enjoy making music. 


Irene N. ’21 - Piano

Un Sospiro by Franz Liszt

My piece is Liszt's Un Sospiro. "Un Sospiro" is Italian for "a sigh," and when I first listened to it, I was captivated by a simultaneously languishing and vigorous melody, weaved on top of a rich bed of accompaniment that flowed like water. I usually choose pieces according to the feelings I get when I first hear them—I want to feel awe, to be immersed, and touched, and this piece gave me all of that. I wanted to have a piece that's technically challenging enough to make me have to put in a lot of repetitions and patience, and after a year, although I'm not quite perfect yet, I feel like the notes finally grew in my hands, and I feel natural playing it. You should listen for a continuous cycle of ascent and descent in the piece - like a pent-up sigh close to coming out, but then always subsided back inside. It'll move you in the best way.

It's considered by many to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written, and I hope its beauty can shine through and reach the listeners, even if my playing isn't perfect. There is a lot of crossing hands involved in playing this. To think that such rippling waves of sound can come from the rapid crossing of two hands is inspiring—it means that beauty and purpose can be made out of what can seem like a chaotic experience. 

I feel like I succeeded in finding out the place music has in my life. Up until now, although I know it brings me great pleasure and is something I want to spend more time on, I still pressure myself to keep up with music just to sustain a hobby of some sort. So I was always feeling guilty about not being able to practice more than I did, and that just made the experience of practicing less enjoyable for me. Now, I know that music is not something that I have to force into my life rigidly, but should follow the flow of my life. I play a lot when I feel like it, play a little less when I don't, and spend time playing things outside of my classwork just for fun. Some challenges have been to find the patience to work through the details of the piece, since I tend to want to rush to finishing a piece once I'm done reading the notes. I had to learn bit by bit to give more time to polishing a piece, and I now know that it might take years to grow and give a truly nuanced, musical performance. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that musicians have even more now. 

I mentioned that I usually pick music based on the first impression, but for my second piece of the year I chose something I didn't like at first and then turned out to love it. It's Brahms' Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2. Even though it was really famous, when I first listened to it, I thought it was too morose and languid. However, as I listened to it again and again and began to practice, I developed a connection to it and found comfort in its mildness. I'll be more open-minded about the kinds of pieces I should play in the future. 

I look forward to choosing and learning another great piece for a long period of time next year—a kind of grand end project. I want to put a lot of effort and heart into something that can reflect my whole journey and growth with music here. It'll be gratifying to perform at the end of next year and know that I can be proud of the work I've done.

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    • Enjoy listening to pianists Catherine N. '20, Zoe N. '20, and Irene N. '21, sharing their Emma Artist pieces.

    • Catherine N. '20

    • Zoe N. '20

    • Irene N. '21

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