Saturday, March 18, 2017

Local Young Pianist Takes The Stage At Carnegie Hall

Franklin’s Peter Bryan, 11, performed at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, February 18, at the invitation of The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program in recognition of his achieving First Class Honors in his piano music assessment. Peter, a piano student of Ida Zelman at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA), performed Little Red Wagon, by T. Richert, in the Celebration of Excellence Awards recital, held at Carnegie’s Weill Hall. A highest scorer in Massachusetts in his level of piano performance, Peter demonstrated skills related to repertoire, technical requirements, musicianship and musical literacy.

“It's such a high honor and an incredible opportunity,” said Zelman of Peter’s achievement and Carnegie Hall experience. “I am beyond proud of Peter. He comes to every lesson prepared and eager to learn. He doesn’t back off from a challenge. He’s a high achiever, and The Royal Conservatory program has a huge base of repertoire that motivates him to learn pieces and perform them well.”

“Performing at Carnegie Hall was amazing,” said Peter. “I was nervous at first, but as I waited for my turn to play, the nerves went away. It was really exciting when I finally went on stage. When I played on the (Steinway) piano there, I knew it sounded really fancy. And I've never played in front of a crowd that big before.”

Peter, who started playing piano four years ago at age 7, first took to the instrument when his grandfather bought him a keyboard. His Poppa plays the piano and thought his grandson would enjoy it. “As I tried playing songs I knew by ear, my parents thought I should sign up for lessons,” said Peter.

FSPA Piano Instructor Ida Zelman with her student Peter Bryan
FSPA Piano Instructor Ida Zelman with her student Peter Bryan
He began studying one-on-one with Zelman, who credits that parental support as being a key component in her student’s growth and development on the instrument. She noted, “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication on the part of the teacher and student, as well as the parents. It’s a partnership – a triangle, really. Without all three sides, there wouldn't be such success.” 

Zelman has utilized The Royal Conservatory program for more than two decades and now uses the curriculum with all of her students at FSPA. “It’s easy to follow, it progresses gradually and you can see the results,” she said.

The sequenced program begins with a preparatory level and progresses through advanced levels, with examinations offered three times annually to evaluate and recognize students’ achievements. Zelman praises the quality of the curriculum for offering a comprehensive, yet individualized and flexible path to train well-rounded musicians. She described, “It helps to develop ear training, sight reading, musical history and analysis, as well as a broad knowledge of repertoire across Baroque, Classical and Romantic/Modern time periods. But beyond that, the program and study of music in general helps expand students’ abilities and helps them grow as people. They improve memory skills, learn analytical thinking and enhance creativity. They discover history and geography as they come to know about composers’ lives and the countries in which they created their art. They develop life skills and broaden their horizons.”

“Every time I get a new song to play it's a new challenge,” Peter said. “And when I can finally play it, it's very rewarding. When I perform, I like the fact that I can make people happy with my music. Last weekend, I played some songs for my great-grandmother in the lobby of her Senior Living home. Several people heard me playing and came over to listen. When I was done, they clapped and told me how much they enjoyed the songs. I really liked that.”

The Carnegie Hall concert, which celebrated the achievements of Royal Conservatory program high scorers of 90% or above from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, provided a chance for these exceptional students to take the stage in one of the world’s finest concert halls. Divided into two groups for the 90-minute showcase, the students were able to watch half of the performance from the audience. “It was a great opportunity to see and hear each other perform,” said Zelman. “There were mostly pianists recognized that evening and they were at all different levels, from preparatory to level 8. There was a great sense of community.”

“I want to thank my teacher, Mrs. Zelman,” said Peter. “She's always very encouraging, and I would not have gotten to where I am with piano without her.”

Peter will perform in the studio recital of Ida Zelman in the FSPA Recital Hall (38 Main Street) on June 11 and will be featured in the school’s annual Spring Concert at the Franklin High School auditorium in May. To learn more about The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program and instrumental instruction at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, visit or call (508) 528-8668.

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