Sara C. ’20 recently had the opportunity to travel to Cuba and take part in a piano concert at Havana’s renowned Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis. Sara joined two doctoral music students to perform a mix of four classical and contemporary pieces for Havana residents, as well as a former United Nations Ambassador for Cuba.
“It was a great experience,” Sara remarked about the 2-day program in Havana. “The two pianists I was with are incredible. It was amazing to hear them and learn from them.” Sara’s piano teacher, Dr. Solomon Mikowsky, extended the invitation to perform in Havana after seeing her solo recital through the Manhattan School of Music’s pre-college program.
“Havana is incredible—even when you walk the streets there’s music playing,” Sara added. “People there just love music so much. I felt really at home there in that way, being in a place where music is so central to the culture.”
Sara began piano lessons when she was a Spence Kindergarten student. Over the years, she has practiced diligently to refine and perfect her craft. Sara explained that playing piano has taught her to “manage [her] own schedule,” since it’s up to her to carve out independent time for rehearsal. It takes a lot of discipline, “but it’s very worth it,” she added.
Sara also loves “the interplay of history and music,” and emphasized that playing a classical piece is “almost like you’re playing a piece of history…. I can play a piece by Chopin and then learn about it.” She also loves that she gets to “create music myself and put my own interpretation.”
Though Sara enjoys playing classical compositions, she has taken a newfound liking to contemporary pieces—and encourages fellow musicians to “always aspire to try new things and learn new music.”
“I used to really not like contemporary music,” Sara recalled, noting that, “it was such a struggle to learn…but the one thing I thought was my weakness was something that became my strength after really pushing myself, working even harder and doing this concert. It put everything into perspective for me… once you do what you think is impossible and set a time limit for yourself, you really do surpass that.”