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Concerts to honour jazz, ragtime legends

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Alex Tuchman was never nagged to practise piano.

He loved playing from the moment he started his first lesson, at age 5.

By 2008, when his family moved here from New Jersey, he was focused on it as a possible career.

Classes took him to Manhattan each week; three years later he was at it full-time.

The 24-year-old will return to the island next week for the Bermuda School of Music's inaugural Bermuda Piano Festival.

He credits the school for introducing him to the local music scene and encouraging his first solo recital at City Hall.

“During my time on the island, the Bermuda School of Music was very generous,” he said.

“They gave me a place to practice, they let me perform at the school. This festival is a way for me to give back to the school.”

Mr Tuchman is one of seven pianists in the concert at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art next week. The group is also offering private lessons to students and a master class for adults.

“I wanted to do something to add to what's already a vibrant arts scene,” he said.

“There wasn't something specifically dedicated to piano playing, [so] I wanted to create a small festival centred around piano performance and piano teaching.

“I think it's good for young students to attend concerts and see people who are a little farther down the road.

“It was certainly helpful and inspiring to me when I was in high school and younger.”

Mr Tuchman moved to Ohio last year to pursue his doctoral studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

He attended the Mannes School of Music in New York, performing at such iconic venues as New York University, Steinway Hall, Lyle Hall and Carnegie Hall.

He eventually hopes to teach, while continuing to perform.

“I've been very lucky from the beginning to have really wonderful teachers,” Mr Tuchman said.

“I still learn from things my former teachers said years ago, [things] that stayed with me and suddenly took on a new meaning or made sense in a different way.

“I've experienced that with almost all of my former teachers.

“Talent is never enough. You need someone to teach you and guide you and I've been very fortunate to have that from the beginning.

“I started when I was five and it was something that I was naturally drawn towards. My parents never had to push me to practise — it was always something that I wanted to do.”

A conversation with one of his former teachers, Eteri Andjaparidze, spurred the idea for the festival.

“It was a fleeting thought in a conversation I had with her, but it's always important for us to have things to work on and work towards, so I began to think more seriously about doing it,” he recalled.

“Eteri was 100 per cent supportive, so much so that she's actually coming to perform and teach a class at the Bermuda School of Music. That's how it all snowballed.

“It's a wonderful opportunity to not only see the young students perform, but also to see what is basically a public lesson to see how musicians work.”

The festival programme will honour music legends, Scott Joplin and Thelonious Monk. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mr Joplin's death and what would have been Mr Monk's 100 birthday.

The first concert will pay tribute to Mr Joplin with his own music as well that of more recent ragtime composers.

The second concert will feature a jazz trio as well as piano duets.

Classical music will be mixed in.

“This festival is slightly different from what I've done in the past in that there is a pretty big jazz component to it,” Mr Tuchman added.

“I play classical music, music written from the late 1600s to the present. I love Bach and I love Chopin and I love Brahms and they're all so different. That's the wonderful thing about being a musician, especially a pianist — the repertoire is endless. You can play so much and get such joy from such different composers.”

Tickets available at ptix.bm, The Bermuda Bookstore and The Bermuda School of Music. Adults $35; students $15. Ms Andjaparidze will lead the masterclass, which takes place at 4pm on May 16 at the Bermuda School of Music. Admission is free

Passing on knowledge: pianist Alex Tuchman will perform at the Bermuda Piano Festival

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Published May 11, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 11, 2017 at 9:00 am)

Concerts to honour jazz, ragtime legends

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