A very relaxing summer is coming to an end and the exciting new school year is just around the corner. Today, I’d like to talk about one of the most influential piano teachers in my life. Sara Davis Buechner, or Sara-sensei as I refer to her, is a professor at the University of British Columbia, and in 2010, I moved to Vancouver just so I could study with her. I can talk about her endlessly, but here’s the short version of it.
I was about to finish my undergraduate degree when I first met Sara-sensei in a masterclass. These were lessons open to the public, and the guest lecturers were often world renowned pianists. At that time, I was struggling with expressing music the way I wanted, as my professor at the time and I had some differing views. However, at the masterclass, Sara-sensei just freed me up like magic. I was further struck by her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Boise Philharmonic. It was simply a stunning performance.
As soon as the masterclass ended, I searched for where she taught, but the deadline had passed for the application of the Master’s degree program at UBC, and so I ended up going to the University of Arizona in Tucson. In May, 2009, I completed my Master’s degree there where I had an excellent time and met great people.
I officially started taking lessons from Sara-sensei during her sabbatical year in Japan. After graduating with my Master’s degree, I decided to follow Sara-sensei to Japan to prepare for my audition to UBC. That period of time was one of the greatest in my musical studying. During the lessons, Sara-sensei gave me many heartwarming words and advice, and after every lesson, I felt very grateful and motivated.
Her performances are very warm and always pay tribute to the composer. Other times, she plays with wit and mischief, and when needed, the music is strong and epic. You can check out her performances on her Youtube channel, but I will post some of my favorites here. I hope you enjoy them!
P.S. – She’ll be playing with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. If you have some time to attend, I think it’ll be a fun experience for you!