BEAUTY of music | an inside look at the Awards

Three perspectives on the American Pianists Awards.

Rehearsal at Christ Church Cathedral
Rehearsal at Christ Church Cathedral

In our regular Beauty of Music blog, we cover topics relating to classical and jazz music in general such as acoustics, improvisation and classical music cadenzas. This month we turn our attention inward—after much positive feedback from audiences and journalists regarding the final week of the 2017 American Pianists Awards, we asked for some expert insight as to what makes the Awards truly special.

Conductor Gerard Schwarz, fellow performer Andrew Garland and juror Shirley Kirshbaum offer some specific observations on the Awards and counsel for Drew and the other finalists moving forward. Each brings their own expertise to this commentary, and in contrast to the journalistic coverage of the Awards, this commentary benefits from backstage observation for Jerry and Andy and in Shirley's case, a complete viewing of all the events during Discovery Week.

First up is Maestro Schwarz, who aside from conducting the finals, attended events throughout the week and now shares his thoughts on the competition as a whole: 

Shirley Kirshbaum, founder and director of Kirshbaum Associates, an artist management and public relations agency, also commented on the whole of the competition: "I think the biggest surprise was how high the level was for all the finalists.  There were differing strengths and it was a pleasure to hear them in so many different concert environments." She was also excited how Judith Lang Zaimont's Attars was given five very distinct interpretations in the New Music Recital. And of the slow movement of Henry Kramer's Ravel concerto: "exquisite!"

Baritone Andrew Garland performed with two of the finalists during the American Pianists Awards Song Recital and witnessed the other three finalists perform with soprano Jessica Rivera. Here are his comments along with a few short clips from the concert:

Like Andrew, Shirley has some advice for Alex, Sam, Henry, Steven and Drew:

I think I would advise them all to play for as many artists and mentors as possible as they move into professional careers. Perhaps even more importantly, they should listen to as many great musicians as possible; try to hear as many pianists as possible performing in concerto, recital and chamber concerts.  It is exciting, informative and inspirational.

Perfect advice for a blog focused on the beauty of music! Thanks to Jerry, Shirley and Andy for their efforts during the Awards and for helping advance the careers of world-class pianists.


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