Life post-graduation, mid-pandemic

It's been a while since I last updated. Surprisingly (or not), not much has happened considering how long it's been, but life has still gone on. I graduated with my MM in piano performance from Mannes in May, complete with a virtual ceremony I watched with my family from our home. To my surprise, I was awarded the Steinway Award during the ceremony, a cash prize that is awarded to certain graduates for excellence in artistry and service. I was not expecting the award, but it was a great honor to receive it.

In the summer and the weeks leading up to it, I worked with the New York Opera Conservatory to figure out how we could still present a program while following the guidelines set by New York State regarding COVID-19. For the first opera, Don Giovanni, We came up with a solution where we would film the opera instead of performing it, and that the pandemic would be part of the production so everyone would be singing to each other through their phones instead of singing to each other in the same room. In order for this to fully work, we reimagined it as a comedy (which wasn't that hard! Get rid of the death and hell and it's basically a comedy already). If you're curious as to how we managed this, check out the finished product! So many hours of filming and meetings went into this.

The second opera, La Traviata, we still filmed, but presented it a little more traditionally by having people be in the same rooms but socially distanced, and kept it a serious opera. That can be viewed

About halfway through the summer, my husband and I started piano shopping. We knew we would be moving into our own apartment soon (a gorgeous two story loft, with a dedicated studio space on the lower level), which meant I would need my own piano to practice on. Up until this point, I had never owned my own acoustic piano, either using my parents' piano or school pianos my whole life. For a brief period in Utah my husband and I had an electric piano that he had previously owned, but we sold it when we moved across the country.

We visited a few piano stores and a private seller with a bunch of misses before we found the piano for us. At Faust Harrison Pianos in White Plains, I was initially drawn to a beautiful rebuilt Steinway L, but it was way out of our budget. After a few weeks of back and forth about financing, we decided to abandon that piano and check some other ones out. I was skeptical at first that we would find one I liked as much, but there were dozens of pianos at the store we still hadn't tried. Lo and behold, we found the one: a 2005 Estonia 190. New, this model could have been almost as much as the Steinway, but since we were getting it used, it was actually within our fresh-out-of-grad-school budget and it still played like a dream. Check out my first practice session on it after getting it delivered!

Finally, over the course of the late summer and early fall, I applied to several piano competitions. I had been planning to apply to the 2021 Van Cliburn for years, and at the encouragement of mentors, family, and friends, I expanded that to include other competitions as well. Almost all of these required me to submit prescreening recordings of my playing, so I went to a recording studio to have them professionally done. (
Check out the 4th Scriabin Sonata on my Listen page I had recorded!) All of the competitions were scheduled for 2021, and the Van Cliburn has already been postponed to 2022, so we will see how the rest of them play out. At the very least, I submitted my applications, so whenever the competition is held, I will be considered.

The rest of this year I don't have any major concerts planned. At one point I hoped to have my next Whimsical Birdsong concert in December, but it doesn't look like we'll be in a position yet to have any live audience (and collaboration is difficult during a pandemic), so we have postponed it to 2021. If that doesn't pan out, and if I don't make it into any competitions, or if they are all postponed to 2022, then I'll push forward in presenting some more solo repertoire for Whimsical Birdsong in 2021, even if it has to be online!

In the meantime, I will be reviving my Piano at Noon project. I started this project at the beginning of the pandemic as a daily live stream at noon of me practicing, or performing a piece, or talking about a composer, or teaching a piano-related skill. Daily streams were too lofty of a goal, however, so I took a hiatus for a while. Now, I will be reviving it to be a weekly stream on Sundays at noon, and keep it mostly to practicing, and have a performance of a piece once a month. Streams will be posted

Things aren't quite looking up for the arts, but I think they're not looking down anymore, either. People are shifting into the new normal of online streams and concerts. I hope that eventually we will be able to have packed concert halls again, but it is a good opportunity for me to learn to manage during such a situation as this one!

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