The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music Q&A: Ukraine native and UW-Madison graduate student pianist Yana Groves talks about her upcoming FREE recital of Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Schubert at Grace Episcopal Church this Saturday at noon and offers advice to young piano students.

May 17, 2013
1 Comment

A CORRECTiON AND AN APOLOGY: In yesterday’s post about the upcoming debut concert by the Madison Choral Project, I misspelled the name of the founder, conductor and Edgewood music professor Albert Pinssonneault. I regret the error.

By Jacob Stockinger

Ukraine-born pianist and University of Wisconsin graduate student Yana Groves (below) will wrap up the current season of “Grace Presents” tomorrow, Saturday, May 18,  at noon with a FREE recital of Debussy, Rachmaninov and Schubert.

Yana Groves 1

The concert starts at noon and will run until about 1 p.m. in the downtown Grace Episcopal Church (below top) on the Capitol Square.

grace episcopal church ext

The recital of Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Schubert features wonderful music – some of The Ear’s all-time favorites – and it will provide will be a welcome respite from the crowds and hectic activity of the downtown Dane County Farmers’ Market around the Capitol Square.

The church’s interior (below) is a fine setting with resonant acoustics, to say nothing of the beautiful dark wood and stained glass windows. Some members of the audience bring along cushions to soften the hard pews.

MBM Grace stained glass window

Groves (below) recently gave an email interview to The Ear:

Yana Groves 2

Would you please briefly introduce yourself to the readers with highlights of your personal life and professional life?

I was born and raised in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 1987. I came to the United States in 2007 and attended SUNY Plattsburgh, majoring in Accounting and Music. I started playing piano at the age of 7. My major teacher in Ukraine was Tatiana Glazyrina. In the United States I studied with Dr. Karen Becker (SUNY Plattsburgh), who encouraged me to pursue music as my career. I started studying with Christopher Taylor (below) last fall. I participated in and was one of the two winners of the Irving Shain Competition (woodwind-piano duo competition) in February 2013 in Madison.


What are your plans and projects currently and for the future? As a musician, what are your career plans?

I am currently working on receiving my Master’s degree and I am almost done with my first year. I just gave my solo recital and next year I am required to give my chamber recital, where I will get a chance to work with my new friends who play other instruments. I am also planning to apply for the Doctor of Musical Arts program at UW-Madison.

What would you like to say about the various works on your program at Grace Episcopal? What would you like the audience to listen for?

The pieces are all very different. Debussy’s “Estampes” are great examples of Impressionism, where the listeners can hear different color changes and images. Rachmaninov’s Prelude is a very beautiful and relaxing piece that has a beautiful singing melody and orchestral writing.

The A minor sonata (D. 845) by Schubert (below) consists of very diverse movements. The first one has a beautiful main melody that develops throughout the whole movement. The second movement takes the form of Theme and Variations, where Schubert (below) masterfully shows how to transfer a simple theme into completely different characters, while using the same thematic material. The third movement is a Scherzo and Trio and it is very playful in its nature. The last movement is in a form of rondo that drives the listener to the end of this piece with much intensity and determination.

Despite the fact that I have certain characters in mind when I play this sonata, I believe that listeners should find the characters that they would like to imagine when they listen to this piece.

Franz Schubert big

What do you think would draw more young people into making and listening to classical music, especially live concerts?

I think that certain educational aspect is necessary in order to young people to understand the value of classical concerts. I believe that lecture recitals are very efficient because the performer explains what he or she does, and once the audience gets familiar with it they appreciate it more.

What advice do you have for young pianists?

Young pianists should practice not only developing their technical abilities, but also the musical characteristics such experimenting with different characters and colors, listening to their own playing during practicing. Playing the piano well requires hard work, but it becomes very interesting if the pianist embodies his or her practicing with meaning. (below is a photo of Yana Groves practicing.)

Yana Groves playing

What else would you like to say or add?

I am very excited about this concert and I am looking forward to sharing with the audience the repertoire that I have learned during my first year at the UW-Madison.

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