I already knew music would be my life when I was 11 years old. At that time, I was studying flute and piano, and was happy on both. When I met Earl Wild in 1976, my decision to focus on the piano became clear. Music is, as Earl Wild memorably told me, like “marrying the church.” It is a calling, something that you have to do. I’ve been fortunate to have shared music with many people in many places over the years since. Playing for people—one person, 30 people, 500 people—has been one of the ongoing joys of my life as a musician. Sharing music through performance is one of the things that keeps me going. And, sharing music by teaching others about it is equally important.
One of the marvelous things about being a pianist is how much wonderful repertoire there is to learn. Not only do we get to play great solo works by composers from Bach to Bolcom, but we also get to play chamber repertoire that is every bit as varied and rewarding. While there are pleasures to be found in being alone on stage in front of an audience, and pleasures to be found in practicing alone in a room, there is something especially satisfying about working with colleagues and sharing inspirations and ideas.
As a professor at the University of Colorado, I have numerous opportunities to collaborate musically and academically with students, colleagues, and audiences. Being able to participate in music making with a motivated and excited student group is one of the great joys of what I do. Performing a concerto with a top-notch professional orchestra is inspiring and exhilarating; it can be every bit as satisfying to perform with the CU Symphony Orchestra, the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, or a community-based orchestra that is excited and passionate about the music we make together.
Live performance is a community activity—something that is important in our modern world. While I love to record, and I appreciate that people listen to what I do in that medium, it means much more to me to gather together in one place with a group of people and share music. In this day of increasing availability of sound that freezes out the sound of the world around us, I think it is important that we have moments when we are listening to the same music at the same time, and when we are producing that music, together, in the same place.