Buechner to offer ‘smorgasbord of music’ in piano recital


Zoe Kolenovsky
Staff writer

World-renowned pianist Sara Davis Buechner plans to perform a list of beloved favorites for the program she has prepared today as a guest faculty member in the School of Music’s Piano Program. 

These selections comprise “a smorgasbord of music that is dear to my heart,” Buechner said. “The evening is essentially a dinner of desserts.”

At 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, Buechner will perform Italian pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni’s autobiographical Elegies and some short, flamenco-inspired works of Spanish composer Federico Longas. These will be joined by George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and a collection of his foxtrots.

Buechner is a global talent who has been long celebrated for her “astounding virtuosity” and “technical prowess,” according to the Philippine Star and New York Times

Born and raised in the suburbs of Baltimore, Buechner was fascinated with classical music from a young age. She studied under Filipino sensation Reynaldo Reyes as a child before attending Julliard to continue her professional development. 

She has taught at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University, the University of British Columbia, and is currently teaching at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. She also recently debuted “Of Pigs and Pianos,” an autobiographical one-woman show that is part piano recital and part confessional.

When she’s not performing or teaching, Buechner speaks and performs at various LGBTQ+ events. Faced with setbacks after transitioning in the middle of her career, Buechner was able to rebuild her brand with an authentic identity and now serves as a role model for members of the transgender community today. She is also in the process of writing an autobiography, currently in the editing stage.

Buechner is on tour this summer, with recent shows in Baltimore, San Francisco, New York City and Canada, as well as an upcoming performance in Chicago. Over the course of her stay at Chautauqua, she will be holding a recital, a private Q-and-A session for School of Music students and a masterclass at 4 p.m. Sunday in Sherwood Marsh Piano Studio open to the public.

“As a performer, I am well used to merging the roles of entertainer, mentor, educator and translator of musical notation,” Buechner said. “I enjoy all those roles, whose collective bottom line is communication.”

Buechner said in an interview for Piano Magazine that when working with students, she begins with an “incubation period” where she gets “to know them as individuals.” 

After building a personal connection with each pupil, she spends “an awful lot of time trying to give them a sense of obligation to the technical requirements necessary to become excellent at their craft.” 

Respect for the basic skills that serve as building blocks toward the mastery of complicated pieces is what has allowed Buechner to become so celebrated for her classical performances, while also pioneering the development of new compositions. 

She said she hopes to impart this passion for discipline to a new generation of musicians during her visit.

“It’s always lovely to be in Chautauqua,” said Buechner, who has been coming to the Institution for years. “I’m very honored to be invited to return to the Chautauqua Piano Program, which in my estimation is one of the finest summer piano programs in the United States. The faculty is nonpareil and the students at the very top level.”


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