Gustavo Romero, concert pianist, professor of piano at the University of North Texas College of Music. A child prodigy he performed with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. He started to study at the Juilliard School at the age of 14, later graduating with a Bachelor and Master of Music. We talked about how he was able to make the transition to an adult career, later winning many competitions including the Clara Haskill International Piano Competition. His continuous passion for the piano allowed and still allows him to be able make changes effortlessly. We talked about repertoire and his process in chosing and learning his program music, teaching and the legacy of the great pianists
Ari Afsar. Ari is about to add HAMILTON to her list of credits that is already pretty impressive with American Idol contestant, and Miss California 2010 winner. This week, she will begin her performances as Eliza Hamilton in the Chicago HAMILTON cast. We got to sit down with her during the rehearsal process to discuss this amazing opportunity, and the steps that led to it. We talk about the ups and downs of getting fame at an early age, and why American Idol was both the best and worst experience for her. Also, listen in to this fun interview to find out how she still attended UCLA, even after the university turned her down; it’s a great lesson in tenacity!!!
Norman Carey faculty and administrator from the CUNY Graduate Center joined us in the studio to talk about his journey from pianist to theorist. He wears many hats and most identifies with his career as a pianist. After two performance degrees he pursued his Doctorate in Music Theory. We talked about; the distinction between a composer and theorist and how this was formed in the United States, the performer/theorist division and how curriculums can be more connective, the challenges of teaching an art form with traditions and understanding of why we do things, his time with Nadia Boulanger studying theory, his influence of Schenkerian analysis and the process his uses for his own compositions. His multifaceted abilities as a pianist, theorist, composer and as an administrator at the college level is what has made his career interesting. We posed a few questions for him to answer; fixed or moveable, how to teach keys and how to explain well-tempered.
Collaborative Pianist Warren Jones talked with us about his journey to achieving his career. Crucial to this process was his focus early on in his education to choose electives and courses in college that would help him to achieve these goals. We talked about, the difference between accompanying instrumentalists and singers, how music is made, necessary skills for collaborative pianist, how to learn these skills, importance of language skills and he shared many entertaining stories about his career.
Collaborative Pianist-Vocal Coach, Susan Caldwell is a faculty member at Mannes College of Music and was assistant conductor at the New York City opera for 27 years. Her path to her current career flowed naturally from her education as a pianist and organist, which lead her towards opera coaching and accompanying. We talked about; difference voices and the age development and when careers are usually launched, the importance of knowing languages for singers and vocal coaches, necessary skills for a vocal accompanist, how the opera experience in the orchestra pit influenced her ability to accompany and understand the score, the importance of the rehearsal process, defining the role of a vocal coach, the business side to the vocal profession, the art of collaborative performing and the necessary skills needed to be a successful vocal coach.
Ben Cohn music director and first keyboardist at “Wicked”, talks about starting out as a substitute musician and ten plus years later having a permanent job. He discusses; the difference between the conductor positions, incorporating new cast members and orchestra members into the ensemble (without full rehearsal) and learning the technical side to the equipment. As a graduate of Ithaca College and NYU, he comments on how the skills he learned from his training support his current work and the professional connections that foster his current success. Ben shares how other creative projects afford him the opportunity to stay fresh within having the full time job and continue to grow as a musician. We discuss various topics such as; the social dynamic of a Broadway pit and how the working atmosphere is integral to a happy pit, the collaboration of the touring group, managing family life and full time jobs, how classical piano training provided a firm technical foundation, the necessity of sight reading for his job and the importance of how audition singers prepare and communicate with the pianist.
Co-Host Carol Ann Aicher chats with her co-hosts Kevin Chavez and Ryan Michael Hartman about her beginnings in music, growing up in a musical family and finding her way into a career in music with a specialty in pedagogy. She shares her teaching philosophy and how her educational background molds her current teaching style. Balancing teaching and performing is always a challenge, but both feed each other, sharing the same learning process herself as a performer enhances her teaching. As a performer she talks about the learning process and how her practicing supports her performance. Also revealed for our listeners is the real story of how co-hosts Kevin and Carol Ann met and how their collaboration started.
Get to know our regular guest host Ryan Michael Hartman and hear his pathway for achieving his aspirations to appear on Broadway. Honesty and self-assessment allows this pathway to proceed on a daily process. Ryan talks about the process; singing, acting and dancing for musical theatre auditions and how he decides which auditions to go for. Battling the “demons” that occur, he shares his mental process to psych himself up and how his self talk and self assessment helps him get through auditions. Learning to become a musician has been high on his priority list and taking piano lessons has been an integral and supporting part of this process. He discusses his personal bucket list and what he has accomplished so far, and how he prioritizes his time to continue to accomplish this list. Sharing his reasons and process for deciding to join Greenroom Conversations, he reveals how the interviews have inspired his own pursuits.
Contemporary Pianist, Anthony de Mare shares his journey to his current career. He talks about his influences that formed his path to studying classical piano, leading him to find an affinity to the repertoire of contemporary composers. At the University of Buffalo he found his way to new music exploring late Liszt to the present and hosting a radio program about new music. He examines the skills that a pianist needs to be successful at learning contemporary music and the importance of including contemporary music within standard repertoire curriculum. We discuss the difficulties that arise from learning and teaching contemporary music, how competitions fit into creating a career, and defining what is included in contemporary piano music. Reinventing himself every five years or so, he shares his current project “Liaisons”, commissioning 36 of the world’s foremost contemporary composers from across the musical spectrum to “re-imagine” one of Sondheim’s songs as a solo piano piece.