Students, faculty aim for personal artistry to shine in piano recital

Front row, from left, School of Music Piano Program students Grace Tubbs, HaEun Yang and Peizhang Wu; back row, from left, Sean Yang, Alexander Tsereteli, Eric Yu, Dongwon Shin and Zhenyi Long. Piano students are preparing for a recital at 4 p.m. today in Sherwood-Marsh 101. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Zoe Kolenovsky
Staff writer

As much as time in a studio or classroom, performing is a form of learning, said Nikki Melville, co-chair of the Piano Program.

A recital at 4 p.m. today in Sherwood-Marsh 101 will facilitate that kind of learning for the program’s students, she said.

“This should be a place where they have space to learn new things,” said Melville. “We want this, for them, to be a sort of pedagogical space for people to make meaningful change and to learn meaningful things without that constant pressure of judgment. … We’re embracing the idea that there’s time and space to do that kind of exploration.”

The recital this afternoon is a more informal event than many of the School of Music’s other productions. Over the course of the week, students can sign up to perform pieces they are working on in front of an audience with lower stakes than they would face with a larger production.

“This is really the only opportunity the students get to perform solo repertoire other than in guest masterclasses, which is a much more formal occasion,” said Nikki Melville, 

Melville takes the lead in curating a curriculum for the students, coordinating visits by a series of world-class guest faculty members while also providing instruction herself.

“There are lots of wonderful ways to play the piano, lots of wonderful ways to be a musician, and we’re not trying to preach just one,” Melville said. 

She invites her students to “look at all these amazing, wonderful, successful people that come in here,” who are “all really different from each other. We talk about that, and we talk with them, and we try to just understand … finding your individual voice as a musician through these different contexts with all these different faculty.”

It is the interactions with these guest faculty members, who are internationally celebrated pianists with impressive accolades to speak to their technical expertise, that Melville believes makes the greatest impact on students as they leave the program.

“They’ve now got a personal relationship … with these world famous musicians,” she said. “… I think that changes their possibilities as an individual artist to just listen to the stories of these people that come in. … I think that it has a ripple effect through their lives.”

The program for the afternoon includes solo performances by Peizhang Wu, Grace Tubbs, Zhenyi Long, Vanessa Yu, Andrew Chen and Xiaoming Zhang, as well as pieces arranged for two pianos delivered by Dongwon Shin, HaEun Yang, Eric Yu and Sean Yang. 

A quintet rescheduled from last weekend’s chamber recitals will also be taking the stage with pianist Alexander Tsereteli joined by string players Jaewon Jun, Noah Arcenas, Ho Fei Ng, and Maria Savarese of the School of Music’s Instrumental Program.

In the spirit of true fluidity, students are also given the opportunity to decide to perform on the spot, so Melville anticipates the set list expanding.

“This is a friendly, hopefully supportive environment where you can try a new thing and see how it goes,” Melville said. “It’s a sort of safe space for them for performing, which I think is really important.”


The author webchq