The Gilmore Blog
Published January 21, 2015
Beatrice Rana is perhaps the most likely example of a child prodigy. She’s performed around the world before most people her age even traveled alone. She’s taken home trophies from some of the most prestigious competitions for young pianists before turning 21. But she isn’t caught up in playing the piano as a business or a routine; Beatrice (pronounced Bee-uh-TREE-chay) has a passion for the art of piano, and that’s just how she came to be a 21-year-old Van Cliburn medalist with an internationally acclaimed recording under her belt. But this prodigy has a history you won’t find in her press biography.
Many young pianists swear they began playing before the age of 2, and Beatrice traces her first memory of playing even before then. Her mother, Maria, held Beatrice on her lap to practice since she was too small to sit on the piano bench alone. Both Maria and Vincenzo – Beatrice’s father – were incredibly supportive and encouraging of her music studies from a young age, Beatrice says.
Even though both Maria and Vincenzo are professional pianists, Beatrice says she wasn’t pressured into playing – her parents understood from personal experience that a career in piano is strenuous. Rather, she insists she is the happy daughter of two pianists who enjoys her art as a career. And when Maria joins Beatrice on tour, as she did for the Van Cliburn Competition, their relationship is more like a friendship; Beatrice doesn’t see her mother as the aggressive managerial type.
Beatrice began seriously studying piano at age 4. Her concerto debut came soon after, when the 9-year-old pianist gave a performance at the San Marino Piano Competition that would give Serena Wang a run for her money.
When Maria Rana was pregnant with Beatrice, father-to-be Vincenzo was gearing up for his next competition. It wasn’t much later that Maria began giving Beatrice assisted piano lessons. And in enough time, she’d be performing Prokofiev’s Second Sonata to win over the Van Cliburn judges in her own competition. Vincenzo doesn’t seem to compete much these days, but during the holiday season, Beatrice shared her father’s Chopin-inspired version of “White Christmas.”
Though she articulates elegantly in interviews, Beatrice prefers a different aesthetic in her communication. â€śWhen you are a child, you go to school and learn to write,â€ť Beatrice told the Star-Telegram. â€śYou have to write something about your mom or your sister or your holiday. For me, writing something was more difficult than telling a story with music.â€ť
It turns out that nine of the 30 competitors in the 2013 Van Cliburn competition trained under jurors. Beatrice studied intensely under Arie Vardi in Hannover, Germany before he was her judge in Texas. But The Cliburn forbids jurors from interacting with and voting for their former students, which – if anything – inhibits those students. The piano world is a small one, and throughout 50 years of The Cliburn, every competition but one has seen a juror-student relationship.
Winner of the 2011 Montreal International piano competition, Beatrice has spent enough time in Canada to embrace its most cherished cultural feature: ice hockey! Even after breaking her finger in a car door at a Montreal Canadiens game (the day before she was scheduled to make her first recording), she was still an ardent fan. â€śI didnâ€™t know anything about [hockey], but I found it much more interesting than football, what you consider soccer,” she told the Star-Telegram. “So slow, this soccer. Ice hockey is faster, so much action for 20 minutes, then there is a break, then sweets and cakes, which is wonderful.”
Beatrice’s younger sister, Ludovica, plays the cello professionally. The two performed together for an interview with The Cliburn, and they remain close even when Beatrice performs abroad. Ludiovica has also performed with her father, Vincenzo.
In June of 2014, Rana was placed on a list of 30 pianists under 30 for International Piano. Fellow 2014-15 Rising Stars performers Igor Levit and Joseph Moog made the same list. Other Gilmore Rising Stars called out in the article were Joyce Yang, Boris Giltburg, Benjamin Grosvenor and Behzod Abduraimor. Daniil Trifonov, who performed at the 2014 Gilmore Festival, was also mentioned, along with Gilmore Young Artists Yuja Wang, Conrad Tao, George Li, Andrew Hsu and Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner in a section of the article devoted to The Gilmore. It’s safe to say Beatrice, who was featured in the article as an impressive competition winner, was in good company.
In between performances around the world, Beatrice has the opportunity to visit a variety of museums, and she makes the most of it. She saw a Caravaggio original in Texas, visited a Klimt exhibit in Milan, and even took a selfie with a Modigliani.
“She put a lot of energy into that piece,” Rana’s host dad told the Cliburn after she laughed backstage (and danced on a giant floor piano) about the string that broke during her final performance at the 2013 Van Cliburn competition. But she appeared calm throughout the incident and admitted that she was nearly unfazed. â€śI was not nervous at all… When you know youâ€™re playing for the last time, you want to take advantage of every second in this performance, to enjoy every moment.â€ť
Though she says she won’t enter any more competitions, Beatrice still feels the pressure to perform at her highest level. “When you win a competition, that’s when the real competition starts,” Beatrice said in June. â€śYou have to demonstrate your value at every concert. Actually, I want that every concert be better than the other one because this is what I want to do with my life.”
Beatrice Rana performs at Wellspring Theater on Feb. 1.