|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 30, 2020 at 1:35 PM|
Due to the long hiatus that I have taken from this blog and all social media, I have decided to write a small life update to recap the last couple of years for me.
At the beginning of 2019, I was discouraged in my musical endeavors. I had repeatedly applied to several piano competitions and either not gotten accepted or not advanced past the first round. For much of the year, I decided to stop entering for a while. That quickly changed when my professor at the University of Miami (Santiago Rodriguez) told me about an upcoming competition in New York City entitled the “George Gershwin International Piano Competition”. It sparked my interest since it was a reasonable age category, it was only 60 mins of required repertoire (more manageable than others which require 2-4 hours), and it was in my favorite city visit. I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply. I found out 2 weeks later that I was admitted to the contest. That sparked a season of the most stress and excitement I had simultaneously felt in a long time. Leonard Berstein once said "Two things are needed for greatness: a lot of talent, and not enough time." To add to this, I would say hard work and talent go hand in hand. I think his quote is quite accurate since the time pressure inspired me to put in the time and give it my all. The work I did spoke for itself. I ended up tying for the top prize and receiving 2 other special awards. This lead to many connections and a follow up invite to NYC later. With a new wind in my sails, I entered 2 other international competitions. One of them, I placed 2nd in and the other wasn’t as successful, but I came out of it having learned a lot and having met several awesome people in the musical community along the way. I felt very ready to hit the ground running again with my piano performances. Soon, things took a rapid turn, however.
As I was preparing for many things in the summer and fall of 2020, the infamous Coronavirus brought a sudden halt to almost everything in the classical performing arts field. At first, we all thought it would be over quickly, but that wasn’t the case. I decided to take the summer and learn Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto to come out of the quiet season with at least something in my pocket. After that, I got right back into my senior year of school.
I realized I had very few credits left and it would be possible to finish a semester early (I was set to graduate May of 2021) so that began the busiest 4 months of my life. (Mid August to December 4th) It was a rewarding grind for several reasons. One is that I was fortunate to collaborate with my good friend Wesley Thompson who is fellow a composer and pianist I met at UM. What started as his idea for a 5 movement piano suite back in February gradually developed into a 23 minute, 8 movement work of great substantiality over the course of 9 months. It was very thrilling for me to be giving feedback and learning the piece as he was writing it. I pulled off learning and performing it at the end of November for my senior recital just as he finished it only 6 weeks before to use it for his grad school applications. The collaboration both challenged and developed us mutually and we are already talking about our next musical efforts together. For more information on Wesley, see his site here: https://www.wesleythompsonmusic.com The other major benefit of this season was that I officially graduated 3 weeks ago which leaves 2021 open and saves me the next 5 months of being tied down with work.
Regarding the compositional side of things, I grew and developed more in the last 2 years the than previous 5 or 6 combined. I have always been interested in writing music, especially for video games and film, since those are the scores that have inspired and influenced me the most. However, I never had a lot of time to develop that side of my musical palate. After taking several classes at UM and working with a few different great minds in the industry, I felt inspired to write more frequently. I was very fortunate to have a few of my works played by students at the University and others I knew spread throughout the country over virtual recordings. While I am a long way away from making composition a profession, I hope to be able to continue this in the following years and see what happens over time.
On a non-musical note, my long time companion Mattie and I decided it was time to tie the knot in early January of this year. We kept things easy with a simple elopement hoping to do a big celebration and public wedding in the summer, but that got a flat tire in it once again due to Covid. While public weddings are still happening, guidelines, travel, and planning such events is much more difficult in these times so we decided to just let it go and announce it online instead. Our year together has been very rewarding. Quarantine gave us a crash course in communication and enjoying each other's company all the more. We have an awesome apartment in Portland, Oregon with a brand new puppy named Bucky to keep us preoccupied and entertained.
With the end of covid nowhere in sight, I have decided to take the next year off of performing and cut things back with the piano a little bit. I am currently building up a virtual piano teaching studio and recruiting students since it’s one of my primary passions that I have not had much time for throughout my Undergraduate years. Teaching is where I come alive and feel like everything I do in music is worth it. With everyone still (basically) in quarantine, this is also a great time for people to pick up a new hobby. I myself am beginning guitar lessons for this very reason.
While I know this has been a chaotic year for many people, I have personally found it to be one of the best for me. I learned and grew immensely during this time and I feel very ready for the new year and what this next season has in store. As a Christian, I feel that much of this success and peace that I have found throughout the difficulties of 2020 has not been without the hand of God in my life. I give all the glory to him. There is always an elemtent of trust and faith when the future is uncertain, but he always seems to a reveal his plan in hindsight and it often works out better than I even wanted for myself. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope to hear from some of you and hope you have all been doing well. Have a happy new year!