2022 was a big year. Seeing it written out makes it feel like a huge understatement. I took major steps in my career and personal life, and it was more difficult than I could have imagined. I learned a lot about myself and my limits, and about what I want my future to look like. I hope in 2023 I can keep all the good things that happened and get rid of the things that sucked. Here’s what happened this year:
I gave my Carnegie Hall debut performing the complete art songs of Ravel! It was a huge validation of my career and the Ravel project. The evening itself was amazing, but all the organizational things leading up to it were less than fun. Next time I play at Carnegie, I want an agent that can organize everything for me!
I also released my first studio recorded album, also of the complete art songs of Ravel. I cannot emphasize enough how much more difficult this process was than I expected. The recording sessions themselves were hard enough, with how critical I had to be of my own playing in deciding whether or not to do another take of something, but then AFTERWARDS! Listening to everything over and over again, trying to decide which phrases sounded best in one take versus another, telling the studio engineer what we wanted, then listening to the spliced product to see if it sounded right, making changes, listening to the changes, deciding what balance we wanted, THE LIST GOES ON. And then we were working with deadlines to make sure the album would be finished by the Carnegie date to make sure we had hard copy CDs available. I developed severe health issues from the stress of it all, which still haven’t fully resolved, though have drastically decreased in severity since the project wrapped.
I learned a couple valuable lessons from this—first, never do an album on a deadline EVER AGAIN! Take my sweet time, since I can only stand to listen to my own playing for so long. I have two albums worth of material recorded at this point, and who knows when they will release. I don’t! Because I’m going to take my time! Yay! Second, release the perfectionism! Just because an album is studio recorded and you can splice in anything you want STILL doesn’t guarantee a perfect product. We are all only human, and no one can do their job perfectly. My opinions about my own interpretations will change over time. I will discover notes I learned wrong. It will never be perfect. That’s ok. (I’m still working on believing this. I’ll get there.)
I received my shodan black belt in karate in June. I have been working towards this on and off since I was a teenager and it was so amazing to be able to get to the next level of karate learning. Joining the black belt classes have made me feel like a white belt again. There is so much still to learn. My practice has been on and off due to the intensity of the Carnegie/album preparation and the resulting health issues, but I am looking forward to recommitting myself to it in 2023 and taking the appropriate steps to keep bettering myself in that area.
I played another four operas for Taconic Opera/New York Opera Conservatory and filled in as rehearsal pianist for two oratorios.
I performed two concerts for the Whimsical Birdsong concert series, my solo Gaspard de la nuit concert back in January, and the aforementioned Carnegie debut.
I recorded in a studio for a total of 19 hours across three different album projects.
I grew my teaching studio to over 20 students. (As of May 2023, over 25!)
Finally, I went on a much needed vacation at the end of 2022 after all that. We had a great time and I came back ready to tackle new goals for 2023!
I already have many exciting things on the docket. In July, I will be recording with Kristina on WQXR's Young Artist Showcase some of our favorite songs from the Carnegie program, and the Amy Beach ballade for solo piano. We will be interviewed as well, and the episode will air in the fall and be saved online.
We also have tours in the works of the Carnegie program, with four possible different destinations currently being planned. More details coming!
In 2024, I will have the opportunity to perform two piano concertos in a single concert as the next Whimsical Birdsong performance, the Ravel concerto in G, and a new concerto by my father, Dan Montez, written especially for me.
In the meantime, I have started my own concert series based out of Peekskill, New York called Piano at Noon, which has been a project of mine for many years, but its latest form is now live classical music in a community traditionally isolated from classical music. We have monthly concerts and guest artists in addition to myself performing. It's been a blast so far!