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FGCU pianist making musical debut at Carnegie Hall

Priscila Navarro has many talents.

The 18-year-old junior from Peru is a performance major at Florida Gulf Coast University and is currently studying piano under the wing of Dr. Michael Baron at the Bower School of Music. Over the past four years, she has won more than 10 national competitions and has performed in North America, South America, Italy and Poland. In 2013, Priscila will be entered in three more competitions and will make her debut at Carnegie hall on March 7.

Eagle News: When did you realize that playing the piano was going to be a major part of your life?

Priscila Navaro: I was born in, Huanuco, a jungle-town part of Peru. When I was nine-years-old, I entered a national competition for mathematics and out of the entire country won second place. Due to my victory, my family moved to the Peruvian Capital, Lima, and I was placed into a pre-engineering high school for the academically gifted.

When I was 13, I decided to leave pre-engineering school to go to a normal high school and to a conservatory. The conservatory was down the street from my pre-engineering school and I had to choose between pre-engineering and music. That was when I decided music was going to be my major.

Eagle News: What influenced you to move from Peru to the U.S. and attend the Bower School of Music?

Navarro: Dr. Baron was performing in Peru when he and my teacher, Lydia Hung, the former director of the National Conservatory, met. She thought that he would be a good teacher for me and that we would connect very well. My teacher asked Dr. Baron to take me with him back to the Bower School of Music. He agreed and she recommended I move to the U.S. to study with him. I applied and he offered me a scholarship so I would be able to come over.

Eagle News: What was it like winning your first-ever competition? Has the feeling changed since your recent, multiple victories?

Navarro: Yes it has changed me. When I first started, I wasn’t as nervous. As a child, the stakes weren’t as high as they are at the moment. The goal of it for me is still the same, which is to do my best and grow from the competition. To grow from the competition one must be better than his or her competitors. Watching other players has influenced my style and how I play today.

Eagle News: Have you ever considered another occupation besides playing piano?

Navarro: At first, I was going to be an engineer of some type because a majority of my family are all engineers. I’m talking about my mom, her siblings and my dad. So I was considering studying engineering in Peru. Since I wanted to play music, my mother advised me to get out of the country in order to study music.

Eagle News: You are making your debut at Carnegie Hall on March 7. What’s running through your mind?

Navarro: I am excited. It is a pretty big deal for me. I have been preparing for this for a long time because my family, teacher from Peru, Dr. Baron, the Peruvian Consulate, Peruvian Ambassador, Peruvian Diplomatic Corps, the head of the New York Consulate and many others will be attending my performance.

Eagle News: What pieces will you be playing at Carnegie hall and what inspired you to choose them?

Navarro: I will be playing Toccata by in C Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 by Ludwig Van Beethoven, Sonata No. 3 in B Minor by Frederic Chopin and Two Gershwin Songs arranged by Earl Wild. I will also be debuting a piece by Jimmy Lopez, a Peruvian composer who is now very successful and lives in California. This man is a significant composer and he’s Peruvian so it all fits together nicely.

The piece, Ccantu, is a work that a couple pianists have turned down because of its intense difficulty. He is trusting me with the world premier of the piece. I am also debuting a smaller piece called Priscila Prelude by, Jason Bahr, one of the faculty members from Bower. So, I am premiering two new pieces.

Eagle News: Has there ever been a moment in your life where it was physically or emotionally daunting to perform a piece?

Navarro: I have experienced trouble on the emotional side. Beethoven has been a challenge for me because it portrays such a deep and reflective mood. It is a huge change from everything else in my set. It was an emotional challenge for me to understand Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major while communicating its message to others.

Eagle News: With whom do you hope to work after you graduate from the Bower School of Music/FGCU?

Navarro: I am planning to graduate from the Bower School of Music. I don’t know exactly where I am going to go but Dr. Baron and I are looking are browsing through multiple schools and teachers. I am also considering other schools outside the U.S. territory such as Europe for my masters. I have many options and I still have a year and half to figure it out. My main plan is to get a master’s and then a doctorate so it is likely that I will be in school for a long time!

Eagle News: Do you want to teach? Or do you want to perform for mass audiences?

Navarro: I want to play and teach. I like to perform, but I also think that teaching is a very enjoyable task because the teacher gets to explain his or her experiences to his or her students. I also think that it is important for me to be able to share my knowledge of music with my country because music is severely underappreciated in Peru. Peru has a few good music schools but the number of talented students far outweighs the teachers. I want to be able to go over there and help create a strong musical environment

Eagle News: Do you have any advice for aspiring pianists/musicians?

Navarro: Do your best, practice as much as you can and try your hardest to learn everything about the composer whose piece you are playing. Learn about that composer’s life so you can better understand what the piece is trying to communicate. You must be a player who knows how to compose and play multiple pieces. I also highly suggest that players understand the art, philosophy and writing behind the pieces.

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