On October 29, a Piano Master Class took place in Ewell Recital Hall that challenged the audience’s assumptions about the instrument and those who play it. Anyone who thought that he knew pianissimo found that he was misinformed, as master pianist Lilia Boyadjieva sent impossibly light notes dripping like honey into the collective consciousness. “I prefer to play it like this,” Ms. Boyadjieva smiled at young Simon Sun. A few more delicate tones drifted above our heads, followed by a roaring stream of scales and counterpoint. “Now, you try!”
The students who partook in this master class did a remarkable job with their pieces. Each played with poise, learning new skills and techniques along the way with equal grace and agility. Ryan Laney performed L’Isle Joyeuse by Debussy with strength and precision. He was followed by Rebecca Obniski who played a delightful Nocturne by Samual Barber and Simon Sun’s intense rendition of the first movement of the Appassionata Sonata by Beethoven. Ms. Boyadjieva doled out both praise and constructive criticism as she guided each student through difficult passages of their pieces. “Very good, very good!” the Ms. Boyadjieva exclaimed to Ms. Obniski. “Now,” she continued, “What I prefer is drawing out the bass. Hold that out, let all the other little notes float along above it and focus on the melody above. Do this without accent, just prepare that one note. The bass, yes. It is the most important part!” Just a few minutes after taking the stage with Ms. Boyadjieva, every student played with increased expression and mastery. The audience, of course, soaked up every minute of this rousing and inspirational series of instruction and performance.