BWW Interviews: 11-Year-Old Daniela Liebman Debuts at Carnegie Hall
On October 27th at 2PM, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony led by its music director David Bernard returns to the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall for a program of Dvorak, Brahms, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Featured in the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2 is 11 year old Daniela Liebman, making her Carnegie Hall Debut. BWW Classical World sat down with Daniela Liebman to find out more about this incredible young talent.
Classical World: Performing at Carnegie Hall is an extraordinary experience for musicians of any age, but it must be especially thrilling for you to make your debut there at 11 years old. What is going through your mind now in the months leading up to this event?
Daniela Liebman: Excited. I think it's a great honor to be playing there at such a young age and I'm looking forward to it very much. I read that Yo Yo Ma made his debut in the hall when he was twelve; to think that I'm actually a year younger is un-believable to me. Now of course I have to follow the rest of his career upward and that won't be easy, but I'll try my hardest. When I toured Carnegie Hall earlier this year, I saw the spot on the stage where Horowitz liked the piano legs positioned, and it hit me that I can play in the same exact same spot as him, one of my idols and favorites.
CW: Please share with us the circumstances that led to your taking up the piano and your development into an accomplished prodigy.
DL: When I was three my dad bought me a violin and tried to teach me but it didn't work out too well; I was probably too young. I always liked the piano for as long as I can remember. My grandma used to put me on the ledge, where I'd dangle my feet over the keys while she played. Still I never asked for one, my dad just went out and bought it. I remember him telling me that if we didn't get serious when I was five, it would be too late to ever be great someday. So that was it. Every day we sat together for an hour and practiced, he was my first teacher for six months or so. No matter what happened around me or what mood I was in, we practiced. Same as today five years later, except that the hours have increased. Some days we fought, some days we laughed, but every day we worked. Early on my dad saw that I had a real natural sense of rhythm and excellent memory skills; as soon as I knew the notes the piece was memorized. A couple of years later I started studying with my current teacher, Dr. Anatoly Zatin at the Universitario Belles Artes, in Colima, Mexico, and everything just clicked. It was like a light bulb suddenly went on and I started to play really difficult pieces well. Of course I still needed to work hard to perfect everything, but I was playing Chopin etudes and a Mozart sonata in competitions by the time I was eight. Since then I've won first prize in three international competitions: "Night in Madrid", (Madrid 2011) "The Russian Music International Piano Competition", (San Jose California 2012) and the "Lang Lang Telefonica Competition", (Berlin 2012).
CW: Let's talk about your performing experience a bit. Please share with us some of your most memorable experiences.
DL: I made my debut in 2012, with the Aguascalientes Symphony, the Jalisco Philharmonic, the Rachmaninov orchestra of the Kremlin, in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, and with the Fladamex Orchestra in Dallas performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 8, K. 246. In Kyrgyzstan, just as I was about to go on stage, the concert was suddenly canceled with the audience sitting in their seats. It turns out the orchestra wasn't paid on time and they refused to play. But on the next day, a portion of the musicians, mostly those who flew in from Moscow, decided to go ahead and perform the concert anyway. It turns out that these musicians performed as a fantastic chamber orchestra and the concert was a big success.