Interview with pianist Avery Gagliano open notes podcast

21-year-old pianist Avery Gagliano captures audiences with her sensitivity, emotional depth, and musical expression. She gained international attention as the First Prize and Best Concerto Prize winner of the 10th National Chopin Piano Competition, and was the only American semifinalist at the 18th International Chopin Competition in 2021.

She will join the Fort Collins Symphony for our concert “Escape to Delight” on Saturday, February 4, 2023 in Fort Collins, performing Mozart’s 24th Piano Concerto with the orchestra in a live and live-streamed concert. Click here for tickets and more information.

Today, she joins the Open Notes Podcast to discuss Mozart’s 24th piano concerto, her love of pop music, the hardest part of being a pianist, and more!

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Interview with Pianist Avery Gagliano:

Pianist Avery Gagliano
Photo by Chris Lee

Could you introduce Mozart’s 24th Piano Concerto to our audiences?

Of course! This concerto is extremely dramatic. Mozart wrote only two concertos in a minor key (out of 27), and this is one of them

People often think of Mozart as very “classical,” but his music is dramatic, exciting, and full of risk-taking. So I hope that people can experience the whole range of emotion and excitement in this piece.

How is this concerto different from others?

Apart from being in a minor key, it is also different because there is a lot of dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra, much more so than other concertos at the time. Mozart was really pushing the boundaries of the concerto format with this piece.

In other words, the piano and orchestra would often play separately. But in this piece, Mozart layers the two so that some melodies start in the piano and finish in the orchestra, for example.

And what is unique about the last movement?

The last movement is a theme and variations. In the “theme and variations” form, the composer starts with a simple melody and then transforms it in many interesting ways. Sometimes the left and right hands will switch, or it can go from minor to major. Mozart was very creative in applying this form to the third movement.

You do some songwriting and play pop music. How is it different than classical?

Classical music takes a lot of focus. I find that I need a few days of being fully absorbed in this world before I am completely focused and present.

But pop music is just so immediately accessible. It’s very easy to listen to and then put aside. It is fun in the way it takes less investment to get the fulfillment that it brings.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that listened to literally every kind of music. We are all serious musicians, but we appreciate all other genres of music.

What is the hardest part of being a pianist?

The hardest part is the solitude. We are a one-man band, so it’s just you and the piano. You have to hold yourself accountable to practice, and when performing a solo recital it is just you on stage and you are responsible for taking care of everything.

On the flip side, the best part of being a musician is that it’s very easy to connect with other musicians when we do get together, like when we’re playing a concerto with an orchestra. We’re one big family, even if we haven’t met each other, because we can read and play together so easily.

Do you have any unique hobbies?

Aside from songwriting, I love to cook. I love to spend time in the kitchen. When I travel, I always like to find new places to try new foods, and that’s one of my favorite parts.

What do you like to cook?

Let’s see. So, for example, if I hosted a dinner party I would probably make stir fry tofu, or meat dish, or pasta. My mom is Chinese so I do a lot of Asian cooking.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Just thank you for listening, and I hope to see you on February 4th!

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