One fateful day in 1990, an undergraduate in his junior yr who had by no means been across the Stanford music division strolled into the Stanford Concerto Competitors and stole the present. He received that yr together with his famed Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 efficiency. In 1997, he went on to turn out to be the primary American in 16 years to win the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors. This (now, not-so-unknown) thriller pianist is none aside from Jon Nakamatsu B.A. ’91 M.A. ’92, who has returned to campus to show Stanford college students this winter quarter.
Laura Dahl, Director of Collaborative Piano and Interim Director of Keyboard Research, stated she contacted the Van Cliburn gold medalist again in November 2022 to see if Nakamatsu can be thinking about substitute instructing throughout her medical go away within the upcoming winter quarter. In keeping with Dahl, the 2 had met nearly a decade earlier by way of Stanford Director in Choral Research and mutual buddy, Stephen Sano.
Nakamatsu is on the adjunct college on the San Francisco Conservatory and says he retains “a really small studio,” resulting from his intensive journey and efficiency schedule. Throughout this winter quarter at Stanford, he can be mentoring 5 college students who’ve been learning underneath the instruction of Dahl.
In his days as a Stanford pupil, Nakamatsu too as soon as balanced rigorous schoolwork with follow schedules. Dahl is happy for her college students to attach with anyone who’s been of their sneakers earlier than: “He understands, on an especially private degree, the sorts of scholars that we now have at Stanford so I’m actually excited for my college students to work with him for these ten weeks.”
Reflecting upon what he hopes he brings to college students throughout his time at Stanford, Nakamatsu emphasizes the significance of studying alternative ways to method a chunk of music. He stated it’s straightforward for pianists to take a seat down on the piano, begin taking part in, and let their fingers “take over.” However, he hopes to information college students towards conceptualizing and expressing the elements of a chunk musically earlier than training.
“I don’t care you could memorize the entire piece the primary day and play it actually quick. That doesn’t curiosity me,” Nakamatsu stated. “What pursuits me is that I can hear your thought course of going into each single phrase in each single element and that you simply perceive the overarching construction of this piece, which is taken into account a masterpiece for a motive.”
To this point, this method to instructing has diversified from what piano pupil and math main Abhy Devalapura ’24 has beforehand skilled.
“[Nakamatsu] appears to be like at each the macro and micro perspective,” Devalapura stated. “He’s very keen about distinctive views that you simply haven’t actually explored earlier than. In order that’s one factor we’ve been engaged on and it’s one thing that I believed was actually new and vibrant and fascinating.”
In keeping with Devalapura, there are sometimes a number of strains of voices in items of music that had been composed earlier than the twentieth century. Balancing these particulars with the general phrasing of the composition is a ability Devalapura has been engaged on with Nakamatsu.
Nakamatsu by no means personally obtained piano instruction from the music division throughout his time at Stanford. He started piano classes on the age of six with Marina Derryberry (1936-2009). She was the identical instructor who accompanied him to the Van Cliburn Worldwide Piano Competitors, which jump-started his musical profession twenty years later.
Having one’s training “led by one major supply is uncommon,” Nakamatsu stated. “However on the identical time, [my teacher] instantly began looking for out different individuals to assist me musically in several disciplines like composition.”
As a part of this extra education, Nakamatsu studied with Leonard Stein on the College of Southern California for 11 years and discovered from Karl Ulrich Schnabel from the age of ten. At that time in his childhood, Nakamatsu started residing what he described as a “two-pronged” life.
“I used to be having classes with my instructor 4 instances every week for 4 to 6 hours at a time, so I had a really completely different way of life,” Nakamatsu stated. “After which at house, I used to be form of the conventional public faculty child who performed within the neighborhood together with his associates.”
Along with Nakamatsu, the music division can also be welcoming pianist Stephen Prutsman as a Visiting Artist. Prutsman has collaborated with the St. Lawrence String Quartet at Stanford and is moreover trying ahead to seeing Nakamatsu on campus. As pianists, their paths haven’t crossed a lot earlier than.
“It’s not like string gamers or singers the place ensembles are part of one’s skilled exercise. Pianists do play chamber music, do play in orchestras, however lots of our time is spent training alone,” Prutsman stated. “However I’m thrilled Jon is there and I sit up for seeing him.”
The joy to see Nakamatsu again at Stanford and within the music division is echoed by colleague Dahl.
“It’s an actual alternative and I might have been fearful to step away from my college students however he’s a rare instructor and a very variety, heat, and honest human being,” Dahl stated. “They’re in extraordinary palms – even higher than me. He’s a rare pianist and pedagogue and so it’s an important alternative for them.”