Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview with Sylvia Schulman

What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
I am a concert pianist playing as Sylvia Schulman. For 10 years whilst fulfilling the task of Office Manager at the National Bahá'í Centre in Johannesburg my musical involvement was interrupted and I was fairly inactive in this field, my only connection with music being as resident pianist for the Gauteng Choristers and occasional informal events. For the last 3 years I have been in the Western Cape Province and am gradually increasing my musical activity as soloist, accompanist and teacher. A CD recording will be made in January 2010 entitled "A Few of My Favourite Things...." and will include 12 pieces from Liszt, Mozart, Brahms etc. to George Gershwin and Zez Confrey. Three concerts are so far scheduled for 2010.
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
Depends on the engagement. If solo, then alone - if as accompanist, then with soloist(s) or group or choir. It could be with orchestra as well.

Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
I am working on it.

Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
My main acknowledgements are in the form of newspaper critiques! As a student a long time ago I obtained qualifications - various Licentiates.

Please list discography in which you have participated.
Before the days of CD's I played in many broadcasts some of which I have in tapes but none are available to the public now. I am about to make my first CD entitled "A Few of My Favourite Things...." which will contain 12 pieces for piano. This will be available late January 2010.
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
My father was a musician and I have been playing the piano from the age of 4.

What was your musical education?
Piano lessons in the then Belgian Congo, England, High School in Cape Town, South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town. Later in England I was coached by Joel Ryce (American husband of Yaltah Menuhin) and Louis Kentner.

When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
It is part of my way of life. I have always realised it. I have many other interests as well.

What is your creative process?
I recreate - the creativity is in the interpretation of the music I play.

When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
Morning is best but if in concert at night then I need to have had adequate rest to be lucid!

Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?

How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
Not applicable

How often do you practice?
If a performance is coming up then I practise every day.

How do you feel right before going out on stage?

Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
Great pianists

What should be done to stop piracy?
Moral education from early childhood.

What type of music do you detest?

The Founder of the Bahá'í Faith says: "We have made music as a ladder for the soul to ascend to heaven, make it not wings for self and passion." So music which seems like wings for self and passion is the sort of music I detest.

What time did you get up this morning?
7 a.m.

How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
I haven't done much about selling myself and have no experience with record companies and representatives. If I have a concert it is usually advertised by whoever engages me.

What other things have you done to make a living?
Bookkeeping, running my husband's photographic businesses, office manager, internet affiliations, teaching music in schools and privately.

Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?

Who would you play with, without a doubt?
All good musicians.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
Get a good agent, work hard, take up all opportunities and challenges, try to be in the right place at the right time. Don't expect to become a star overnight. Some great artists who suddenly appear on the scene have probably been struggling to get known for 10 or more years.

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