Master of his Domain. Visiting Pianist Eugene Indjic ’65

World-renowned pianist Eugene Indjic ’65 returned to Phillips Academy this weekend. When he was thirteen, Mr. Indjic performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, becoming the youngest soloist in history ever to appear with the famous orchestra. He won many international competitions, including second place in the Arthur Rubenstein competition. Mr. Indjic honored the Phillips Academy community with a masterclass on Saturday evening in the Timken Room and a concert Sunday afternoon in Cochran Chapel. “He is a walking legend…I remember when I was in Exeter back in the 60s. I knew that there was this giant pianist down there in Andover. I had the fortune to meet him later on in Harvard,” said Instructor in Music Peter Warsaw, who introduced Mr. Indjic. Mr. Indjic graduated from Andover as the school’s first professional pianist and matriculated at the famed Julliard School in New York City. However, after two weeks at Julliard he transferred to Harvard University. “Julliard was not for me. I enjoyed Andover, and after so many years at Andover, I got used to being in this type of environment. Harvard was more like Andover than Julliard,” Mr. Indjic commented. Andover’s encouragement of Mr. Indjic’s talent helped him grow into an excellent musician. “I started playing at the age of nine. A movie, called Songs to Remember, which had Chopin’s music, inspired me to be a professional pianist. My parents made me go to Andover, and Andover was really helpful in encouraging me to pursue my dream. They let me out of sports and other requirements to practice four or five hours during the day and after school.” In contrast, due to a plethora of schoolwork, busy schedules, and the increased competition in the college admissions process, few students have as much time to practice as Mr. Indjic did when he attended PA. “I was really impressed with the techniques and the level of musicianship of these pianists who performed today in this masterclass, considering that they do not get that much time to practice,” Mr. Indjic said. In particular, Justin Chew ’08 and Erika Chow ’06 exhibited their unbelievable talents by playing the most challenging pieces of the class with ease. The masterclass was held in a traditional format. The students and audience watched and listened as the pianist instructed the students one at a time. The students, ranging from juniors to seniors, performed the 24 Preludes, Op. 28 by Chopin. Each performer prepared a few pieces, and Mr. Indjic provided the students valuable advice and explanations of the certain passages. Though the technical and musical level of each performer differed, some students, including Jae Han ’06 and Lee Dionne ‘07 stood out from the rest. Despite some errors in memorization caused by the lack of preparation, the students showed composure and musical maturity. The students dramatically improved thanks to Mr. Indjic’s insightful comments. Sophie Scolnik-Brower ’08 struggled with the intensity of a section in her piece. “Don’t raise your shoulders because it takes all your energy in the opposite direction,” Mr. Indjic suggested. For a forte section, Mr. Indjic made an interesting observation to reinvigorate the piece: “Don’t sit down. Stand up and play.” The sudden change in the tone revitalized her piece. The students felt honored for Mr. Indijc’s wonderful insight in the masterclass. Alyssa Yamamoto ’08 said, “He was really good at explaining. I was so nervous, but he made me relax and his advice were really amazing.” Lucy Maguire ’08 added, “This was such a great opportunity, having such a legendary pianist on campus. More people should have come.” Despite the ugly weather, the musicians’ passion for their craft provided a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day.