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ARC Provides an Incredible Opportunity for Young Musicians



On March 15th and 16th, 2019, a long awaited students‘ concert was performed to a full house at American River College. Once a year, the ARC gathers their students and the members of the orchestra to participate in the Concerto and Aria Competition where the participants demonstrate their best abilities through composing, playing, and singing music. The winners are then chosen to play two performances with the orchestra.

We offer our readers the interview with Tatiana Scott, adjunct piano and ear training professor at ARC and CSUS-What can you tell us about your career and this event?

- I’ve been a faculty member at ARC for 15 years and at CSUS for 18 years, teaching Applied Piano and the 4-semester sequence of Ear Training courses, coordinating this program between ARC and CSUS.
I am very excited about the unique Concerto and Aria Competition program at ARC, organized by Dr. Steven Thompson, the director of the ARC orchestra. This has become everybody's favorite event of the year.
We have a very enthusiastic team of music instructors, who prepare our students for this annual event. This season, students of Irina Samarina (violin and viola), Natsuki Fukasawa (piano) and Joe Gilman (composition) did a fantastic job performing with the orchestra.

- What is your role as a piano instructor?

- My role is to prepare my students for this unforgettable event, helping them to play as a soloist with the orchestra. I assist them in choosing the right piano concerto for their abilities, and to realize their fullest potential. The rehearsals with the orchestra require so much practice, dedication and passion! Students grow up tremendously as musicians because of this challenging experience in working with the orchestra.

- Who did you prepare for this event?

- This year my talented 14-year old student, Eliza Hagy, was among the winners of the ARC competition and played the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Schumann with the ARC orchestra. This is a wonderful opportunity for a young pianist to play such a difficult masterpiece! I played this Piano Concerto when I was 16 years old, but I never had a chance to play it with the orchestra. That's why I was very happy that my student had a chance to do so. Eliza Hagy made me very proud in doing an absolutely amazing job; it was a very powerful and beautiful performance. She made an incredible progress as pianist while working on this project.

For the last 15 years, my piano students have been selected to perform as soloists with the orchestra. Kyle Cremat played the Piano Concerto N2 by S. Rachmaninoff and Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin; Arend Aldama had won the ARC Concerto/Aria Competition for 3 years in a row, and played an entire piano concerto by E. Grieg and Rhapsody in Blue as well; Helen Yanovsky played the Piano Concerto by J.S. Bach in D minor; Ara Jo played Mozart’s Piano Concerto N 23.

- What is your experience with the ARC orchestra?

I had a dream to play music of my favorite composer Rachmaninoff as a pianist-soloist with the orchestra, and I was able to fulfill this dream at ARC. A few years ago I played the Piano Concerto # 2 by S. Rachmaninoff with ARCO under the conductor Dr. Steven Thompson. It was one of the most exciting professional events of my career.

This year I was very happy and honored to have an opportunity to conduct the orchestra for the first time, performing the Piano Concerto in A minor by R. Schumann with my student, Eliza Hagy, as a soloist. I have a degree as a choir conductor, but working with the orchestra was just an amazing experience! The energy of the performance was very high; it was an enjoyable experience creating music together!

- Where did you study music?

- When I came to the U. S. from Russia I had already earned three music degrees in Moscow. My Alma Mater was Gnessin Music Academy where I studied piano performance with Alexandra Batagova, a very experienced piano instructor. As I continued my studies in Moscow, I earned my Master Degree in Theory/History of Music and Choir Conducting. When I came to America, I decided to go to Graduate School at CSUS to study Piano Performance again just to stay in a good professional shape, to learn English, music terminology, and the educational system. I was studying piano with a wonderful professor Richard Cionco, harpsichord with Dr. Lorna Peters, and organ with David Deffner. I was lucky to get an offer to work at CSUS after my graduation. I have taught for there for 18 years and I am very proud to be a faculty of Sac State School of Music.

And of course I couldn't do it without the support of my loving family, my daughter Natasha, my mom and my husband Douglas.

- Tell us about your piano student Eliza?

- I am so fortunate to have Eliza as my student. We started working together about 4 years ago, and Eliza is a very delightful student to work with. She is talented, creative, enthusiastic, and she has a very strong personality. It is important to have strong will power a good work ethic, and to practice many hours a day with a big love for music.

Last year Eliza and two my other students, Wilhelmina Roodenburg and Chloe Jaffe, played at Carnegie Hall in New York as winners of the International Competition Crescendo.

I am happy and excited to keep working with Eliza on many new challenging projects.

And it is very important for a students to have supportive and enthusiastic parents. Eliza's parents are just as wonderful as she is!

- What are your plans for future?

- To keep working with my piano students and share with them the happiness of discovering the wonderful world of music.

Now we will introduce our readers with Eliza Hagy, the youngest player participating at the ARC annual concert.

- What are your thoughts about this experience?

- At the concert, I played the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor with the American River College Orchestra. Performing a solo piece with the orchestra was a remarkable experience for me. Both thrilling and enjoyable, it gave me a chance to present the best qualities of my playing. I am so grateful to the jury of the Concerto and Aria Competition who handed this rare and amazing opportunity to me. Truly, it was an honor to be chosen among so many talented musicians.

- How did you discover this competition?

- As I noticed, in our life, opportunities often come by chance. Luckily, my piano and theory teacher, Tatiana Scott, gave me this chance. One important thing she showed me was to always challenge myself through new opportunities. She inspired me to play my first large form of music, the piano concerto. Together we worked hard and practiced over 40 pages of music containing various themes, tempos, and dynamics.

- How did you find the preparation for your performance?

- Frankly speaking, being selected to play was just the beginning of a long journey. Coming to rehearsals every week to learn how to coordinate with the orchestra, and persistently practicing to reach an ideal point in my playing took on a serious commitment I couldn’t go back on. I didn’t realize how patient I had to be and how constant my motivation had to stay, to strive forward. It was moral support that gave me enough confidence and inspiration to rise the occasion. The role of my piano teacher provided me with psychological guidance and encouragement that was crucial for me in the moment of despair.

- Your piano teacher was your conductor as well. How did you feel about this?

- Tatiana Scott conducted brilliantly despite the fact that this was her first time conducting a very challenging piece of music. This inspired me to perform a piano concerto with an orchestra for the first time despite my reservations. She encouraged me in a positive yet influential manner. Her conducting was beautiful and precise, which helped me coordinate with orchestra. Every rehearsal improved in dynamics, tempos, and expressiveness, and created an orchestra playing in unison with me. I owe all my gratitude to Tatiana Scott for not only being an exceptional piano teacher and conductor, but for being the person who always believed in me. Performing at this occasion brought so much positivity and success for my future that will never be forgotten.

- What is your message to future soloists?

- The competition is a stressful experience, the rehearsals are exhausting, but performing a solo piece with the orchestra in front of such a supportive audience is pure joy. I have no regrets by having done it.

Interview by Igor Axenov,
Photography by Sergey Kuzmin and Robin Hagy

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