The fall 2014 semester started in earnest at the end of August. I am happy with a fine class of students I have, which included influx of fresh talent this past fall, some of whom were active during this term: the 14-year-old junior Benjamin Krasner won a third prize in the 13-14 age group category, and another junior, Alexander Agate was chosen among the 24 competitors for the Chopin US Foundation National Competition to be held in Miami in February-March of this year.
At the end of 2014 I went on a tour of China, visiting two most prominent musical centers, Shanghai and Beijing. The tour included recitals, masterclasses, lectures and educational exchange visits. It started with a sold-out recital at Shanghai Oriental Performing Arts Center on December 6. It felt very nice to play for the attentive audience and receive the following comments form the program director, Ms. Eva Liu: "It was great to have a chance to enjoy your wonderful performance last Saturday, we have seldom had such a strong program, which was so impressive!"
This event was followed by a visit to the Music College of the Shanghai Normal University, where I held meetings with the faculty and administration regarding our educational exchange program with this sister institution of our school. I then paid a visit to East China Normal University, a national university with a large music department, where I met with the faculty and gave a masterclass.
My next visits took place in Beijing, overseen by the old-time colleague and friend Yuan Sheng, Professor of Piano at the Central Conservatory. For two days I held a residency at the Conservatory, lecturing and holding a day of masterclasses. I was so impressed with what I saw and heard at this world-class institution where the level of playing and music-making among the students is so high! My experience proved highly inspirational and gratifying.
I then had a lecture-demonstration on the Scriabin's recorded legacy at the National Center for the Performing Arts.
Next was my solo recital at the Beijing University. The program features music included works by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, Lyadov, Debussy and Scriabin. One of China's premiere academic institutions, Beijing University hosts a music series in a cozy recital hall. A full house on this occasion proved inspirational.
After teaching a masterclass to the students of Professor Su Mai of the Central Conservatory Pre-College Division, and paying a visit to Beijing's China Conservatory, I returned to Shanghai for a few days, before taking my return flight back to the US. All in all, the year 2014 turned out for me to be very inspirational and fulfilling professionally as it was pleasant and exciting personally!