If I had to feature one young person who represents what living a dynamic life in classical music is all about in the 21st Century, it would be Nicholas King. Daring in his entrepreneurial vision and bold in his unusual pathways, he is quickly finding success and recognition both as a pianist and as a mentor to others in the organization he founded, The Art of Giving Back. From a childhood set of charity concerts in the meat department of a local grocery store, to an early appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, to paying his tuition for summer study abroad by selling donuts in high school, Nicholas King is a man and musician who gets his way. Focused, articulate, and passionate, he was a pleasure to join in in conversation this spring at the Slow Train Cafe in Oberlin.Read More
Cleveland, Ohio—on the shores of America’s so-called North Coast of Lake Erie, at the heart of a recent Rustbelt cultural renaissance fueled by ingenuity in education, medicine, food, and the arts—has placed 25 pianos outside around the city. Placed in conjunction with the Cleveland International Piano Competition taking place this summer in University Circle—a unique cultural mecca that was listed by Forbes magazine as one of America’s ten most beautiful neighborhoods—these pianos aim to bring the community together through shared experience. Having returned the previous night from Berlin and Vienna from concerts to promote my upcoming first CD release, I had witnessed an outdoor piano with a single performer near St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The spectacle drew passing glances and spare change, but the scene in Cleveland was on a different scale. Construction workers, mothers, fathers, children, friends, coworkers on break—all seemed to have a tune to sit and play in solo or duet performances, and I added my own throughout the day on various pianos.Read More
Sergei Babayan speaks about music, his life and influences, competitions, and teaching philosophy. Many portions of this conversation were omitted from publication (International Piano magazine, 2012); they appear in full here.Read More
In October 2012, Heidi Kim of “Caffeinated Convos” blog interviewed Zsolt Bognár in Cleveland, mirrored here.
His earliest memory of classical music was his father playing Beethoven symphonies on old LPs. At the age of 8, Cup 21 accompanied his older brother every week to his flute lessons at the University of Illinois School of Music. Waiting in Smith Hall, young Zsolt was fascinated by the organ majors practicing in there, and decided that he was going to learn how to play this grand instrument as well.
But to his dismay, the piano teachers said that he had to begin on the piano for basic keyboard skills. Though tricked into playing the piano, he grew to love the instrument.Read More