For music Professor Nadia Shpachenko, one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing piano is performing fresh and innovative pieces written by contemporary composers.
“I love playing new music and premiering pieces,” she says. “It’s important to be passionate about discovering and promoting the work of talented living composers and championing the music of our time.”
Shpachenko will get to do just that when she hits the stage Tuesday, Oct. 27 to perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall’s REDCAT Theater. Her performance will open this season’s Piano Spheres Satellite Series.
For the program, titled “In Full Sail,” Shpachenko will perform the works of American composers Tom Flaherty, Annie Gosfield, James Matheson, Adam Schoenberg, Lewis Spratlan and Peter Yates.
Several of the compositions are architecture-inspired works commissioned by Piano Spheres, including Spratlan’s “Bangladesh” and Gosfield’s “The Dybbuk on Second Avenue,” both world premieres. Shpachenko also plans to perform works from her album “Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013” including Flaherty’s “Airdancing,” Yates’ “Finger Songs,” Schoenberg’s “Picture Etudes,” and Matheson’s “Cretic Variations.”
During a recent class, Shpachenko sat at a grand piano in the Music Recital Hall playing a piece she will perform at the concert for a group of students. When she finished, she recounted collaborating with one of the composers to the class and how the enthusiasm he had about creating new music was infectious. Spratlan, a Pulitzer-winning composer whose work Shpachenko will perform, will fly in from Boston on Oct. 26 to present a free workshop for students on campus.
For Shpachenko, her love for music began when she was a little girl growing up in her native Ukraine.
“My mother is a piano teacher and she brought all of her students home,” she says. “When I was little, I would listen to her teach and play all day.”
At age 5, Shpachenko began playing. Besides teaching, she counts performing as one of her greatest joys.
“Getting in front of an audience and sharing my passion and imagination through music is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience for me each time” she says.
Shpachenko, who has performed nationally and internationally, recently joined the ranks of noted pop, rock, and jazz artists such as Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Billy Joel when she was named a 2015 Steinway Artist.
As a Steinway Artist, she was able to visit the piano maker’s showroom in Los Angeles and choose which piano she will play at the upcoming concert. It’s a familiar process for Shpachenko, who along with Department of Music Chair Iris Levine and department accompanist Janet Noll, picked out pianos Cal Poly Pomona purchased through the All-Steinway School Initiative, an elite designation to which fewer than 170 conservatories, universities and schools of music worldwide belong.
“It’s a piano that really speaks to me,” she says. “I am really able to project my imagination beautifully through a Steinway piano. It’s like a close friend.”