I decided to become a classical pianist when I realized practicing and performing classical piano brought me joy. Not just for my own personal fulfillment, but because I wanted to share that joy with others. However, it is common for classical music to be seen as inaccessible, pretentious, or simply not interesting. I want to break down some of those barriers and make it possible for more people to connect with it and find that joy. I always speak briefly or at length about the music at my own concerts, to give people something to hold onto, to understand some of the passion that I feel for it, and to feel included in the process of my programming. I believe people cannot feel joy if they don’t feel included, so inclusivity is and always will be an important part of my work.
Gaspard de la nuit: Behind the Scenes When I first decided to do the Ravel project, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to play Gaspard de la nuit. If you’re not in the classical piano world, you might not know that this suite has something of a reputation. It is considered one of the hardest suites in the entire piano repertoire, and of course that makes it one of Ravel’s most commonly played pieces, because it’s great for competitions.
I was scared of the piece. I had seen fellow students and colleagues play it throughout my degrees, and I had absolutely no desire to tackle it myself. My goal for completing the Ravel project was to have everything performed and recorded within five years, so I figured Gaspard would be more of a year five kind of deal. I wanted to give myself plenty of time for my technique to develop to the point where I could even think about tackling it. Read more about my adventures!
For the first time in the Whimsical Birdsong concert series, Kessa will be presenting a recital of only solo piano works. The theme of this concert is death and rebirth, and will feature shorter works by Ravel and J.S. Bach, new works by Montez and Andres, and finally the title work, Ravel's popular and insanely difficult Gaspard de la nuit. Tickets will be sold at the door at $20 each. Check the full calendar to stay updated!
Whimsical Birdsong is a self-curated concert series presenting the complete works of Ravel that include piano. Not just his solo piano works, but also his chamber music, art songs, and concertos. No pianist has ever undertaken a project like this with Ravel. Ultimately I hope to present the concerts of this series all over the country and perhaps the world, and perhaps to even find a venue to perform the entire series in just one year.
Interested in joining the Mefford Music Studio? I have been teaching piano almost as long as I have been performing, coming up on 10 years. To date, I have taught lessons to over 100 different students ranging in age from 5 to 70, and ranging in skill from complete beginner to college piano performance major.
Described by long-time audience members as a "bridge between the average person and the music she plays" and a "dynamic, passionate musician," Kessa is known for sharing her joy of music with her audiences. Read the full biography here.
Want to listen to my playing? Here are some audio and video excerpts of some of my favorite pieces. Check out the recently uploaded Scriabin Sonata No. 4 recorded professionally at a studio! Click here to listen.