When Music Professor Nadia Shpachenko plays piano, she does so with her whole body.
The more melodic parts of her works send her head swaying from side to side, as her fingers race across the keys. And when she pounds out notes in more of a staccato rhythm, her shoulders lift and her head bobs.
Shpachenko debuted some world premieres and played selections from her album Woman at the New Piano: American Music of 2013 on Oct. 27 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s REDCAT Theater. Her performance kicked off the Piano Spheres Satellite Series.
The Steinway Artist says she was excited about the audience reaction to her works.
“Many wonderful musicians were in attendance, and I could feel the interest, attention and enthusiasm during my performances,” she says. “It was amazing to perform for such a packed house and to share the premieres and works from ‘Woman at the New Piano’ with such a great audience, which included so many of my colleagues and students.”
The program, titled “In Full Sail,” included performances of the works of American composers Tom Flaherty, Annie Gosfield, James Matheson, Adam Schoenberg, Lewis Spratlan and Peter Yates.
Several of the compositions were architecture-inspired works commissioned by Piano Spheres, including Spratlan’s “Bangladesh” and Gosfield’s “The Dybbuk on Second Avenue,” both world premieres. Shpachenko also performed original works that included Flaherty’s “Airdancing,” Yates’ “Finger Songs,” Schoenberg’s “Picture Etudes,” and Matheson’s “Cretic Variations.”
Several of the composers were in the audience for the performance.
“I was of course so thrilled that most of the composers were in attendance. That made the performances very special,” she says. “Luckily, I worked with all the composers closely on all the pieces in preparation for the performances, so the pressure of presenting the pieces to the composers for the first time was off and the performance experience was just pure joy.”
Spratlan said after the performance that he was thrilled at hearing Shpachenko premiere his “Bangladesh.” The architect Louis Kahn, who designed the capitol complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh, served as the inspiration behind the piece. A clip from the documentary on Kahn titled “My Architect” by Louis Kahn’s son Nathaniel Kahn introduced the composition, and the accompanying visuals by Dana Berman Duff included photos of the structure and were flashed across an oversized screen above the stage.
“I couldn’t have been happier,” said Spratlan. “It was a triumphant performance.”
Shpachenko is no stranger to playing in noted venues, but says she still feels a sense of delight when she takes the stage.
“I get a little nervous each time, but good nervous,” she says. “Perhaps excited is a better word to describe the feeling I get before performances. The excitement and the sense of connection with the audience helps me focus and present my best work on stage. Performing is truly one of the most rewarding experiences for me.”