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Pianists Saldanha, Shin Love Learning At BMC


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Lara Saldanha

Meet pianists Lara Saldanha and Esther Shin, two of 382 exceptional music students who journeyed to Brevard Music Center this summer to undergo an ambitious schedule of classes, lessons, and rehearsals.

Saldanha, 17, is an Indian-American pianist who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She currently attends the International School of Geneva, where she is a rising senior completing an International Baccalaureate diploma. How did Saldanha begin her music studies?

"When I was 6 years old and living in Singapore, my mother enrolled my sister and me in piano lessons. But it wasn't until later in Cincinnati, Ohio, that I was more serious about my piano studies. My Russian teacher, Nina Terekhov, was remarkable and pushed me to where I am now."

Interestingly, her father's career has taken the family to all kinds of places around the globe.

"I have lived in Japan, the Philippines, India, Singapore, Cincinnati, Boston, and now Geneva," she said.

However, her heart and home will always be the United States. "I love being in the states. I am actually applying to various double-degree programs here. I'm interested in applying to the New England Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, University of Michigan, and Indiana University," she said.

Overall, Saldanha has loved staying in Brevard this summer.

"I like being here very much. The scenery is just so beautiful, and the people are amazing. I've met all kinds of musicians," she said. "I have been studying with pianist and faculty member Douglas Weeks, and I am still blown away by his teaching and performances."

Moreover, Saldanha remarked that her most enjoyable experience has been performing in the choir at the BMC.

"Most of the time, pianists practice alone. So, I really enjoy singing Bach Cantatas with the choir at BMC," she said.

The performance of the Bach Cantatas was given at the Porter Center on Monday.

Eventually, Saldanha aspires to be a professor of piano. In her spare time, she loves to read Jane Austen novels and run track and field.

Esther Shin, 24, hails from New York City. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree at Peabody Conservatory (studying with Professor Boris Slutsky), and a Master of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music (studying with Dr. Arkady Aronov). Shin never doubted her path in music.

"Since I was 4 years old, I have always wanted to be a concert pianist. I really believe in the power of music, and how it moves and inspires you," Shin said. Shin initially started lessons with her mother, who is a voice teacher.

"My mom always wanted me to play for her. I even accompanied her in a recital in Carnegie Hall once " it was unforgettable," she remarked.

Shin is not a stranger to Brevard, having won the BMC Piano Competition in 2009, which awarded her a full scholarship to attend this summer.

"After spending five years at Aspen Music School and Festival, my teacher there, Ann Schein, told me to attend Brevard. She said that I would have the greatest summer of my life here," Shin said.

What does Esther admire most about the Brevard Music Center?

"It's wonderful that everyone here just loves music. And the music community is very warm and welcoming. It all contributes to the charm and inspiration of this place," she said. "I also think my teacher, Sandra Wright Shen, is just an amazing musician, pianist, and friend. I really look up to her."

Shin will be pursuing a graduate degree in theology at the Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill.

Esther Shin

"Throughout music, we see a connection between faith and music. My teacher (Ann Schein) recommended that I merge my Christian faith and music together by studying at Moody. This will also give me time to expand my repertoire before I go on to do a doctorate degree," she said. Shin aims to perform and teach at a university or a conservatory.

"I really want to be an influence in other people's lives. I also want to create outreach concerts," she said. Shin just completed an incredible performance of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Sunday's concert "Soloists of Tomorrow" as one of the winners of BMC's Concerto Competition.

When not performing, Shin loves hanging out in her hometown, watching musicals (her favorite is "Rent"), and visiting various art galleries, museums and cafés.


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