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  • Writer's pictureIlona Oltuski

Carol Montparker – a pianist’s landscape

With intense perception, Montparker manages to explore the world of the pianist in its many identities.

Ranging from the performing stages to her accounts as a music journalist, from being a teacher as well as student - in relation to her own teachers - from practicing repertoire to organizing her schedule , she shares her insights with great sensibility through a fanciful description of her own desires, dreams and fears, shedding light on the big question: what defines being a pianist.

When Montparker talks of every day frustrations with bad instruments, acoustics or dysfunctional recording devices as well as bad audiences or un-thankful students she also contrasts them by the enlightened moments of kindred spirits and her muses.

They come to life in the characters of the supreme artists she admires in concerts, interviews and with whom she has a story to share.

She also finds them among her students and the group of pianists she plays and socializes with. According to her account, the successful rendered musical ideas in a concert or the quite, spiritual uplifting moments at home at the piano, are the essential forces keeping the pianist going.

The inspiration she gets from music and shares with her family and friends is overriding the desire for fame and fortune of a big time career on international concert stages. Nevertheless Montparker has intimate knowledge of the process of performing and describes the experiences, vivaciously.

That ever nerve wrecking stage fright and gnawing self-doubt the asking oneself” why did I need that for?” as well as the exhilaration and wondrous satisfaction of being able to express and to share ones artistry, rings true unanimously for any pianist who has ever performed, from amateur to professional concert pianist.

“I got the best of all worlds” Carol Montparker had told me, when I visited her at her home in Huntington, Long Island, one summer afternoon. Indeed, she seems to be very much at ease with the fact, that she had made her decision early on to raise a family and teaching students from home, rather than spending her life on the road for a concertizing career that- although trained to pursue it and praised as talented- was uncertain in itself and unlikely to fulfill her other desires.

Although that meant of course, limiting her performance possibilities to local venues available to her immediate realm of influence, Montparker was able to devote much time for her other passions namely gardening, painting and writing.

Through her journalistic activities, she managed to keep the contact to the ‘players’ of the world stages of the piano, alive . As senior editor of ‘Clavier magazine’ for 15 years, she interviewed some of the performers, whose venerable legacies, reads like the ‘who is who ‘ list of a generation of greats, many of them not alive anymore.

In noteworthy interviews she brings many unforgettable encounters to life, bearing witness to the different personalities of the performers and to the all-important factor - of human interaction.

Through her personable and often humorous accounts, she invites the reader into episodes of private relationships. Not withholding the tiniest thrill, it is friendship she is looking for and through describing her own emotional reactions, vis-à-vis a celebrity, she manages to draw the reader into her personal bonding experiences.

Her good nature and admiring stance towards the sometimes difficult to handle egos of the artists, make it possible for her to profile very personal characteristics, while showing them in a charming tone.

And that comes from her knowledge, identification with and the appreciation for the enormous challenges, that go into that caliber of artistry.

Montparker - while in awe of great talent - is in the know of disciplined labor, and what goes into the building of the highly crafted technique, informed by genuine musicianship.

This is often described in her personal accounts of her own performance experience, with great detail and informed perspective . It is Montparker’s realistic depiction of the incredible physical and emotional demands of the human ego, consuming the bigger part of concertizing careers that leaves the pianist portrayed, as the relentless over comer of obstacles.



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