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19. February 2018 Nikita Stěpaněnko

A pianist's diary: Chapter 2

It is mildly cold in the beginning of February 2018 in the NYC. The Upper Westside Manhattan is a very insipring neighborhood full of parks such as the Riveside Park, the Central Park and the Morningside Park or neogothic/neorenaissance buildings such as the City College, the Columbia University ( where I have to attend the Humanities class ).

The city has a lot of churches, for example the fifth largest christian cathedral of the world - the St. John Divine Cathedral ( where I will have the honor to perform for the second time, on February 19, this time as a member of the Chamber Choir of the Manhattan School of Music - a choir, which I joined this semester, that is primarily intended for voice majors - apart from my piano skills I am also experienced choir singer and usually I am the leader of the bass/baritone section and the choirmasters value my dedication and passion ), or the Riverside Church, that has a massive tower that ornaments surroundings and reminds me of the mysterious Tower Orthanc from the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien. I had the honor to perform in both churches already, as a member of the Symphonic Chorus, a mandatory class ( last time we sang the Mozart's Requiem, this semester we are preparing the Second Symphony by F. Mendelssohn where choir has an important role ).
The Fall semester went really well. My grades were almost perfect except for the B+ from Humanities. I had spent the whole winter break with piano practicing and preparing for my upcoming MSM debut recital which went really well. It lasted for more than 1,5 hours. My teacher was very delighted and all my friends and acquaintances came to support me. In these moments I feel proud to represent the Czech Republic by playing piano pieces from czech composers from the past and the present. I love sharing the czech music which remains totally unknown for most audiences outside the Czech Republic. I was playing pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Vítězslav Novák, Klement Slavický and Jiří Trtík and my performance was recorded and some of the pieces are available on my YouTube channel:
Currently I am in the middle of the hardest practicing period that every pianist can relate to. It's the finishing, polishing and embellishing of piano etudes that are a necessary part of a piano repertoire. A concert etude is one of the main components of the list of mandatory pieces in every major piano competition of the world. Right now I am working on three etudes. Two of them are written by Frederic Chopin - opus 25, number 8 in D flat major, "the sixths etude" and number 11 in a minor called "The Winterwind". The third etude is called " la Leggierezza" and is written by Franz Liszt and is in the key of f minor. My piano teacher usually appreciates my creativity, however there is always much to work on - phrasings, dynamic control, stylism, keystroke, fingerings or tempo - on all of these attributes it is necessary to keep working on and when you have a highly qualified teacher and mentor, it goes way faster.
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