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VC Talks: an interview with Ryan Pereira, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner

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VirtuosoChannel Grand Prize, 2019
First Prize, GLORY Int'l Strings, Winds & Percussion Competition, 2019



TALKS
In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.




What year were you born?
I was born in 1994 and am currently 24 years old.


Do you come from a musical family?
My mom was a Music Education major (as a vocalist), and she happened to also learn the clarinet during her degree. This is how I got started with the clarinet in the first place.

My family is mostly made up of engineers, which has actually played a significant role in my musical career. In 2014, I launched a startup company manufacturing parts for the clarinet through 3D printing technology. I’ve learned about the technology over the course of a few years by simply living with my family. Eventually, I wanted to prototype designs for clarinet barrels with my knowledge of clarinet anatomy in addition to 3D manufacturing. Then, everything expanded from there. Little did I know, this would “blow up” and become a huge part of my career.


What was your earliest musical experience? 
One of the earliest classical musical experiences that sticks out to me the most was first listening to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the Pathétique. To this day, it’s among my favorite symphonies of all time. I can remember the closing of the fourth movement and how haunting it was. After learning about how it may reflect Tchaikovsky’s impending death, it was a glass-shattering moment. The whole piece is absolutely brilliant, including the 2nd movement’s 5/4 meter which always kind of reminds me of a broken music box - also hauntingly beautiful.


Why did you choose to play the clarinet?
As I briefly mentioned before, my mom learned clarinet in college. She entered her undergraduate degree as a vocalist, but needed to take up an instrumental concentration as a requirement for her degree. She happened to choose the clarinet. She started off on an old Bundy plastic instrument and quickly invested in a professional Buffet R13 after enjoying her lessons so much (those professional instruments were also less than 1/5 of the cost that they are today). These instruments would become my first ever instrument and my first wooden instrument, respectively. In fact, she also marched with the Bundy clarinet in her college’s marching band on J. Birney Crum Stadium’s field in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Over 30 years later, she watched me march on the same field competing with my high school’s marching band using the very same instrument.

One day in the 4th grade, she put various wind instruments in front of me and I got to try out each. I got to try various brass and woodwind instruments that day, trying my hardest to get sounds to even come out. Something about the clarinet felt right and I was sure that I was going to learn this instrument since that day.


Who are your favorite composers and why?
My favorite composers are probably Debussy and Mahler. I have fond memories playing their orchestral works, which I think are absolutely brilliant. Playing their pieces in orchestra are possibly some of my happiest musical memories - particularly Debussy’s La Mer and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. However, I particular enjoy listening to Debussy’s piano works. That may be one of the few things I can put on at any point of day, in any mood, and I will always enjoy it.


Who are your musical idols?
It’s hard to list certain people that I would consider an idol, but I continuously draw inspiration from my clarinet teacher at the Boston Conservatory, Michael Norsworthy. Aside from being a great performer, his sound and expression are something anyone, whether a musician or not, can appreciate and learn from.


What is a perfect performer?
There really is no perfect performer. My clarinet instructor always says, “we’re all human.” Musical errors, performance anxiety, and other factors will always come into play, but a great performer needs to figure out how to play their best despite these issues.


What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
I’m not playing it at the moment, but I’ve always loved listening to Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin. I enjoy listening to the piano version just as much as the orchestrated version. I’m actually a big fan of many of Ravel’s works, such as his Piano Concerto in G Major, which I’m constantly trying to improve its Eb clarinet excerpts. I absolutely have a connection to Impressionist music. The melodies, chords, and use of instrumentation bring out colors that I am very drawn to.


What are the main influences in your music-making?
Influences come to me from anything. It can stem from hearing other musicians to listening to my teacher’s elaborate metaphors to looking at art pieces. Even my feelings during a particular day can have some impact on how I play a piece.


When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
A lot of the time, it’s along the lines of “don’t screw up this really hard run.” I tend to focus in and take things one musical section at a time.


Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I am currently a Masters student at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. My degree will be finished this coming May. Following graduation, I do not plan to continue with schooling. I will be running a clarinet shop and continuing with my business as I continue with various performance opportunities. I also plan to develop a small private studio and build from what I’ve learned from Ithaca College during my Bachelor’s degree in Music Education.


What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
Music competitions are important for growing musicians, in my opinion. While it is important to gain experience learning pieces and recording, it is just as important to receive feedback on the pieces we’ve spent hours and hours preparing. I’m honored to receive the competition’s Grand Prize, and it makes all of those practice room hours worth it.


What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
I think it’s a wonderful idea for musicians from around the world to submit their work through such an easy process. It is truly a great opportunity for musicians, particularly for those who are unable to travel far distances in order to compete.


When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, 3D printing is a huge interest of mine. Learning more things about the technology and the process each day is very interesting, and it’s incredibly fun to make anything you want, whether it’s a trumpet mouthpiece, a car part, or a working clock. Aside from that, I enjoy hanging out with close friends and coming home to my cat, Stella, at the end of a long day.


What book are you reading now?
While not necessarily about the bassoon or classical music, I’m reading The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson. Any fan of The Office will find this one worth their time.


What are the happiest moments in your life?
It’s not something I do anymore, but marching band in high school was perhaps one of the greatest times of my life. I developed such great friends, there was a real sense of camaraderie, we traveled often for competitions and games, and we always had that competitive spirit. However, to this day, I always go to the Drum Corps International show that comes to Allentown, PA each year. I always pull for the home Corps, The Cadets.


What things do you not like to do?
I don’t like to be bored. While having a lazy day once in a while can be absolutely necessary, staying in one spot all day doesn’t always work for me. I like to keep myself busy with things, whether that includes practicing the clarinet, going to the gym, or making sure the electric bill is paid on time.


What inspires you and what makes you sad?
My interests definitely inspire me, especially art. My friendships and connections always have an impact. I feel that if something is off between you and someone close to you, it can impact you both musically and in your overall lifestyle. The feeling of letting someone down is awful.


What are your strengths?
In my opinion, of my greatest strength would be looking at the “big picture” of things and planning meticulously.


What is your life motto?
I just want to be able to learn something new every day, whether it’s an important life lesson or something completely insignificant.


What is most important in life?
Do what you want to do. Life should be fulfilling, and with hard work (and some sacrifice), you’ll find a way to make your dream work. It’s also interesting that my dream has changed in some ways since 5 years ago, so I guess it’s important to listen to your own thoughts as time passes.


What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work is always key. I do believe that talent has a role in someone’s artistry, but hard work has to go with it to reach the lofty goals musicians typically set for themselves.


If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
In general, I wouldn’t try to change much from my normal life. I probably wouldn’t go to class or deal with Boston traffic, but I’d definitely want to see those I care about most and enjoy music while I can.


Why does the universe exist?
That’s a loaded question, which I don’t necessarily have an answer to. However, while we’re here, we might as well find a way to be happy and have a nice time along the way.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

VC Talks: an interview with Elham Fanoos, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner

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First Prize, GLORY Int'l Piano Competition 2019, 2019


TALKS
In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.


What year were you born?
1997


Do you come from a musical family?
I would so say. My dad is an Indian and Afghan Classical singer, it is called (Ghazal).


What was your earliest musical experience?
I used to play very basic popular songs when I was back in my country, Afghanistan. Songs like the God father theme, Love Story, etc. I studied at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, which is the only music school in the country.


Why did you choose to play the piano?
I chose to play piano because when I was 5, I used to play Tabla (a traditional Indian/Afghan Instrument), but when I grew up my father encouraged me to pick an instrument like Piano or Violin. Then I was searching on YouTube and suddenly fell in love with the sound of piano and even the way it looks on the stage. The older I got, I realized the facilities of what we can do on the piano. For me piano is an orchestra.


Who are your favorite composers and why?
My first favorite composer is Chopin, then Schubert and Liszt. I just love the romantic period in general and these composers in particular because of the beautiful melodies they have written. It just connects with me. I love music that's melodic and melancholic. From the background I have, I feel that I can express what I want/have to say with those composers and pieces.


Who are your musical idols?
Vladimir Horowitz is one of them and my other musical idol is Yo-Yo Ma.


What is a perfect performer?
A perfect performance for me is a memorable performance. It is when the perform delivers what he intents to.


What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
I am enjoying Chopin Nocturnes at the moment. They just give me a special feelings when I listen to them.


What are the main influences in your music-making?
I think the main influences in my music are the taste of Afghan music that I incorporate when I learn/perform a standard classical piece, and the nature and experiences in my life.


When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
It depends what kinda of music I perform at the moment and how I feel. I do think and picture nature in my mind.


Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
At the moment I am a senior at Hunter College. My musical plans are to arrange some Afghan folk songs for piano, have my own volume of piano compositions, and have my own school some day to inspire other young generation from my country or around the world. I want to have an organization to help people who wants to pursue music but they can't due to certain circumstances.


What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
I want to present my country and show a positive face of Afghanistan since I am the only pianist who plays and performs standard western classical piano compositions, at the same time I want to establish my career in order to do so.


What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
It is a great competition to start with, especially for the piano students who have not had many experiences with competitions. It is very well-organized and a great way to establish young musicians to pursue their dreams.


When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
I like to chat and hang out with friends and talk about different things. I like love watch movies, ice-skating, playing ping pong, mostly sports and food. My favorite pastime is when I briefly performed at Carnegie Hall at the age of 15.


What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading the greatest contemporary pianists.


What are the happiest moments in your life?
The happiest moments in my life is when I make other people happy. I also enjoy my time with my friends, so those moments are my happiest moments.


What things do you not like to do?
I don't like to argue so much, I don't like to cook by myself, I don't like to talk a lot.


What inspires you and what makes you sad?
A beautiful performance can inspire me and when I see someone changes the world for better. What makes me sad is when I don't get to deliver what I want in a performance. Also when I see people struggle financially and emotionally. And when people have dreams but can't pursue it because of different reasons. And something that makes me really sad is the situation in my country.


What are your strengths?
I believe that one of my strengths is incorporating my emotions and feelings into my music. I am a positive thinker with self-confident.


What is your life motto?
One of my life mottos is a quote by philosopher Charles Horton Cooley, "I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am."


What is most important in life?
I think the most important thing in life is being happy and in order to do that is to serve people when you can. It is very important that we learn from our mistakes and live in the present. It is important to fail and get back up, fail and get back up. We have to try new things in life in order to find our true happiness and self discovery. In other words, we have to discover ourselves.


What is more important: talent or hard work?
I think both are important but as famously said "hard work beat talent" I believe in that. In order to make progress and discover our talents, we have to work hard. Without working hard talent wouldn't shine.


If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
I would spend time with my family and truly live and share my music with the world. which we all have to do that anyway.


Why does the universe exist?
I think the universe exist because we need to discover ourselves and probably it is a test or examination of what we do and how good and bad we are and can be. Again, it is all about self-discovery and be able to give back to the society and help others.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

VC Talks: an interview with Savannah Scott, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner

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First Prize, GLORY OPEN Int'l Vocal Competition 2019, 2019


TALKS
In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.


What was your earliest musical experience?
Fancy Feet Dance Studio. I started ballet at age three and then started doing their summer musical theatre productions and I played a munchkin in the Wizard Of Oz at age five. That is where my passion for musical theatre began.


Who are your favorite composers and why?
Lin Manuel Miranda because I love the way he adds in popular modern music elements to his shows while still following the integrity of musical theatre. He brings in a younger audience which I think is important to keep bringing new material to perform. I also enjoy the classic musicals from Rogers and Hammerstein.


Who are your musical idols?
Tori Kelly - she has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard.
Laura Osnes - she’s my musical theatre inspiration.


What is a perfect performer?
I don’t think there is one, but someone whose goal is to tell a story and wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.


What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
Gospel music - Tori Kelly


What are the main influences in your music-making?
Tory Kelly, Adele, Lea Michelle


When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
Am I doing well? Is this going to be good enough? Also I think about how fun it is and I enjoy myself. I’m content. I’m also very connected to myself when I sing.


Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I take voice with Sara Edwards and my plan is to study musical theatre in college.


What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
To gain more experience with auditioning and I love singing and feel this is a gift I’ve been given and I want to share it.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

VC Talks: an interview with Grace Wang, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner

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First Prize, GLORY Int'l Piano Competition, 2019


TALKS
In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.


What year were you born?
2004


Do you come from a musical family?
My mom sings. My dad cannot.


What was your earliest musical experience?
Probably hearing my dad sing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ very off-key.


Why did you choose to play the piano?
I thought it would be cool if I could play an instrument. So piano it was.


Who are your favorite composers and why?
I love Debussy and Mozart because they write beautiful melodies and both of them write many playful pieces that are enjoyable to play.


Who are your musical idols?
Glenn Gould. He has a really unique style of creating music, and the music he creates is so distinguishable and stylistic. I respect him so much for that.


What is a perfect performer?
Someone who feels the music they are playing, who is not afraid to take risks, and enjoys themselves on stage.


What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
Bach is pretty cool.


What are the main influences in your music-making?
My teacher. My family. Incredible pianists in my studio.


When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
It’s either ‘I am absolutely terrified’, or ‘Hey, this is pretty fun’. It’s hard to know what mood I’ll be in beforehand, it just happens.


Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I currently study with Professor Ingrid Clarfield. I would definitely like to continue my studies with her and maybe join a music school when I go to college.


What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
I like the experience, because it is nice to perform in front of people. I get those rare moments where I truly enjoy myself on stage, and those are the moments that make everything else worth it. Also, it gives you something to work towards.


What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
I loved this competition; I think it’s very interesting to have a Student Jury.


When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
I love all creative mediums, like design or filmmaking. I also dance.


What book are you reading now?
Harry Potter. Always Harry Potter.


What things do you not like to do?
I hate doing nothing.


What are your strengths?
Knowing my boundaries (most of the time).


What is your life motto?
I’d rather fail than not try.


What is most important in life?
Be present when you are with people you love.


What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work. But some talent wouldn’t be bad.


If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
Eat with my family.


Why does the universe exist?
That is the question.

Thank you very much for talking to us.