Getting to Know 2020-2021 Rising Star Avery Gagliano
May 10, 2021
Our last Rising Stars concert of the 2020-2021 Virtual Season is this Sunday, May 16, at 4 PM ET! It features Avery Gagliano and, in order to prepare for her concert, we asked Ms. Gagliano if she would be willing to answer a few questions for us to get to know her better. Here’s what she had to say!
You started playing the piano when you were just five years old! What made you start studying it and what has kept you going through now?
My parents are not musicians, but they both love and appreciate music. Because of this, I was surrounded by music at home from the very beginning, and I will always be thankful for that. I was singing before I could even talk (The Sound of Music was the first movie I watched and, according to my parents, I knew all the songs at 18 months old). Finally, when I was five, I asked if I could learn to play the violin. My parents decided I should take piano lessons first because they thought it would be a good foundational instrument. The piano was such a natural fit, and everything took off from there! Whenever I have doubts, I remind myself just how much music means to me. I’ve loved it since day one, and couldn’t imagine life without it.
You were the First Prize and Best Concerto Prize winner of the 2020 10th National Chopin Piano Competition and have performed at the Verbier Festival Academy, Ravinia Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, just to name a few. What has been your favorite performance venue so far?
I love to travel, so any international stage is always exciting. Performing at the Verbier Academy in Switzerland was one of my favorites because it’s so beautiful there and, more importantly, I performed with my friends and colleagues as a culmination of our time at the festival. My performance at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall for the Grammy Salute to Classical Music for Leonard Bernstein was also memorable. It was special to play in such a monumental hall, and once again, I was onstage with friends (you might notice a trend here).
You’re currently a student at the Curtis Institute of Music studying with Gary Graffman and Robert McDonald (and formerly with 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Jonathan Biss). What does a normal school day look like for you?
This year, school has been entirely remote, and my classes have been in either the early morning or late evening. I start practicing in the morning, which is when I am most productive (unless I have class, of course). After lunch, I usually transition to other work such as homework assignments, emails, etc. I practice more in the afternoon and, depending on the day, have my piano lesson. I also try to get outside for a walk at some point since I enjoy nature and don’t like being cooped up at home all day. If needed, I’ll practice more after my evening classes. Our apartment has a 10 PM curfew, but I also have a digital piano that comes in handy for late-night sessions!
Covid-19 has definitely changed a lot of things this year — do you have any hobbies that have been bringing you joy?
Since middle school, one of my hobbies has been to write pop songs and sing/play them at the piano. I had a big boost of inspiration this past year and wrote a bunch of new songs that I’m excited about. Another hobby of mine is baking and cooking, and since being home, I’ve enjoyed spending more time in the kitchen. Finally, as I mentioned before, I’ve found a lot of peace and calm walking and admiring the outdoors. It’s a way for me to relax after practice, clear my thoughts, and rejuvenate.
Finally, if you had any advice for young pianists just starting out, what would it be?
My biggest advice for young pianists is to 1. be patient, and 2. enjoy yourself. Studying music requires a lot of hard work and practice; it is not easy. However, if you are patient and persistent, you will eventually reach your goals, and that is the most rewarding feeling. When you are struggling, remember why you love music! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to love what you do. As long as you enjoy yourself and the music you play, the journey is worth it.
Thank you to Avery Gagliano for her candor and we hope you’ll tune in for her virtual concert on Sunday, May 16 at 4 PM ET. Get your ticket today!