Classical and improvisational pianist Gabriela Montero did more than delight a capacity crowd at her April 1, 2014 recital at Mount Royal University’s Leacock Theatre.
What’s it like playing for one of the world’s most gifted musicians?
We’ll let our Academy students tell you:
Stephen Lind, 24:
Q: What was it like playing for Gabriela Montero?
A: It was a great experience, it was especially interesting as I chose to play the C Major Schumann Fantasy without realizing it was on the program for her recital that evening. She mentioned that it is amongst her top five favourite pieces and obviously had a deep understanding of it, which made for a great lesson.
Q: What was the best advice you took away?
A: I’d have to say her approach of technique and being as efficient and relaxed as possible in every movement at the piano.
Jenny Z. has been an Academy student for two years, and is currently an APP student. The talented 16-year-old studies with Krzysztof Jablonski.
Q: What piece did you perform for your masterclass with Gabriela Montero?
A: Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 by Frederic Chopin
Q: What was the most important lesson she taught you?
A: She offered a lot of technical advice (since we mainly focused on technique), and the major one is: it is best to limit your movements to only what is necessary to produce the sound, because we essentially play by gravity, and once the key is pressed, any extra movements won’t affect the sound. In addition, the closer your fingers are to the keyboard, the more control you have on producing the sound. Even if you feel you need to move “with the music,” like lifting your wrist before beginning the next phrase, just think of how the music goes inside and don’t let it affect your movements.
Q: What was it like working with such a famous classical musician?
A: It’s a great privilege to learn from a world-class pianist. At first, I felt a bit nervous and curious to see what she would say, but in the end, her confidence and knowledge gives me confidence as well: I know I learned something that would definitely improve my performance skills in general. It is also illuminative, as she would mention something that I never thought of, and sometimes what she teaches also converges with my teacher’s words.
Teresa S., age 12
Q: Which piece did you perform?
A: Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody no. 8
Q: What was the best advice from Gabriela Montero?
A: Don’t try to play the piano with a lot of extra motion, or with no motion at all. When you play the piano you should play it and be. It’s like walking, when you walk you don’t walk with stiff legs, but you also don’t walk like you don’t have any bones. You just walk. I thought that was very helpful.
Q: What was the experience of playing for a renowned musical star for the day?
A: I thought it was really cool! It was a great experience, I am very lucky to have had it! That is one of the things I really like about the Academy Program at Mount Royal, you get to have some great once-in-a-lifetime experiences that not a lot of people can have, so I feel really lucky to be one of the students working with these wonderful guest artists.
WATCH: Baritone Russell Braun offering his words of wisdom to Academy students:
NOTEWORTHY: Season subscriptions to the Wyatt Artist in Residence Series Recitals support the Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth program.
Sherri Zickefoose, April 9, 2014