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Scott Watkins: Blog

Young talent

Posted on May 15, 2010
Jacksonville University hosted the Florida State Music Teachers' Association Concerto, Young Collegiate, and Ensemble competition today. It was a long, challenging day with unexpected rewards.

First, the level of playing by the young artists was astounding. Enviable fearlessness of youth!

... and then I met Maria Gomez. Oh, if you live in the Miami area you might recognize the name. It's a name I will never forget. I had to struggle to fight back tears as I told her how profoundly impressed I was with her student's performance of the first movement of Chopin's E minor Piano Concerto. ... her FOURTEEN YEAR OLD STUDENT'S performance. This young artist, a kid!, played with a sensitivity, a maturity, a command that most people who profess to have these qualities in spades can only dream of.

And best of all, Ms. Gomez is an unassuming, soft-spoken, kind and gentle teacher. I enjoyed watching her listen to her student - flying with each phrase, shaking her head at those powerful moments of triumphant music-making. Maria Gomez is the teacher any parent would be happy to have join the family!

But the real shock was that this young artist didn't win first place in her division. I've judged many times and I know how difficult decision-making can be, and I won't dare second-guess the outstanding judges in today's event.

Perhaps it's just the nature of the music. Chopin's music is like watching an eagle soar (and soar it did in the more-than-capable, well-trained hands of a 14-year-old) - but sometimes (I guess) soaring isn't enough. Sometimes (I guess) there is the need to watch the beautiful eagle feed. It's an ugly, unbecoming sight for so dignified a creature. Ripping flesh, tearing tissue, flinging blood. This is sort of what happened today (in my opinion). Once again, the banging, slamming, hacking, ricochet defeated (as it almost always does) the pure and simple act of lyricism. Watching the eagle feed was (I guess) more impressive than just acknowledging that it is that majestic proud bird.

I refuse, as a listener, to let my disappointment dampen my spirits for today, I met Maria Gomez. She reaffirmed my solemn belief that being a pianist is a noble art, and, by her teaching, as demonstrated in her student, she honors that noble art.

Bravo, Ms. Gomez. May I call you for a piano lesson, please?