Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) as a Guest Artist where I gave a lecture ("The Art of Living and Producing the Dream: A Workshop for Emerging and Determined Artists"), masterclass, and a solo recital ("Kaleidoscope Dreams") featuring contemporary music by composers Fred Hersch, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), and Toby Twining. Their student newspaper wrote my visit HERE. You can see students' videos and photos from the hashtag contest HERE. My recap and 4 impactful moments are below.
PHOTO: Isn't this a great way to be welcomed?
I had SO much fun. I am so grateful to the wonderful pianist and person, Dr. Nadia Schpachenko, who invited me and also generously hosted me. (We previously met at New Music Gathering). It was a treat to hear Nadia and her colleagues perform at the faculty concert and be inspired by how she works with her students. Do you know any serious music faculty who allow their students to perform, tour, and record with them? It's remarkable that Nadia does this and creates these opportunities for her students.
CPP has a totally different vibe than the typical elite conservatory environment. I saw engineering students in my music careers lecture, a student performer rushing off after the masterclass to help his family restaurant, a piano major in his 50’s. In this unique and diverse population, I was impressed with the student body who were bright, earnest, creative, and open-minded.
I was amazed at just how comfortable most of the students were with contemporary and new music as part of their language. This is credited to Nadia and the amazing CPP faculty who’ve exposed them to really cutting-edge new music. Usually, students ask a lot of questions about the piece I performed, Toby Twining's "Satie Blues" for piano and toy piano, but here, piano music with toy pianos? No biggie. There was an incredible piece performed at my masterclass called "Igor To Please" by Tom Flaherty written for 6 pianists on 2 toy pianos, 2 pianos, and electronics- wow!
MASTER CLASS PHOTOS:
PHOTO: Igor to Please for 6 pianists on 2 toy pianos, 2 pianos, and electronics (2016) Tom Flaherty (b. 1950); Dr. Nadia Shpachenko, Michael Jung, Michael Tran, and Long Yu, pianos, Sophia Lin and Melinda Hovsepian, toy pianos
PHOTO: Working with student Joshua Tessler on Prelude for the left hand in C-sharp minor, Op. 9, No. 1 and Prelude in B minor, Op. 11, No. 6 by Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
PHOTO: Students Ilka Bradvica, violin, Claire Kim, viola, Adrianna Curcio, cello, Long Yu, piano performing Piano Quartet in A minor by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).
4 IMPACTFUL MOMENTS:
There were a few takeaways that I thought students seemed to enjoy the most-
1) “If you're a performer, your vulnerability is your product." -from "The Art of Practicing" by Madeline Bruser.
I mentioned this only in passing but if this were a cartoon, there were little lightbulbs that appeared at the top of students' heads after saying this quote in my lecture. This sparked a great conversation where students shared examples of how this is true and relevant in their own work and in work that inspires them the most.
2) On Collaboration- A) What value do you bring to the table? B) Are your missions aligned?
In my lecture, the focus was on bringing dream projects to life. The first half was about thinking outside the box and synthesizing your interests, skills, and talents into one idea. The second half was about how to network and collaborate because most projects can't be done alone. At the very least, you'll always need an audience, right? I emphasized the importance of always thinking about the value you're bringing, and if your mission is aligned with those you want to work with and/or wanting to benefit from. For a collaboration to be fruitful, it has to be a win-win on all sides.
3) Performance- "It Feels Like a Mountain, Chasing Me" by Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) (Available to watch HERE).
A lot of students really enjoyed this piece as a highlight from my recital, "Kaleidoscope Dreams." As mentioned above, CPP has a diverse student population, and I think that may have contributed to it resonating more with this audience because this piece addresses a lot of difficult (and beautiful) moments from my childhood, including growing up as a daughter of immigrant parents.
4) Your eyes, ears, fingers, hands, ideas, dreams, and reality will catch up to the vision you have for yourself.
I mentioned this at several moments but I think (or hope) that it was impactful for students. It may sound cliche but a clear and strong vision of what you want to hear from your instrument and see for your music career allows you to navigate and jump over all the various hurdles you face as long as you work hard and stay true.
"KALEIDOSCOPE DREAMS" RECITAL PHOTOS: (#kdreamspomona instagram photos HERE)
THANK YOU. I had a wonderful, fulfilling, and purposeful time meeting all the students and faculty at Cal Poly Pomona. If interested in booking me for a college/university residency, please contact me HERE. I love performing and inspiring young artists.