Teaching at Michigan State University’s College of Music in East Lansing is an incredible pianist and teacher with a sharp mind and an infectiously positive outlook, Derek Polischuk. This San Diego born graduate of the University of Southern California has a skillful and tasteful touch on the piano, playing with warmth, restraint, and precision all at once. I met Derek and became friends with him over a decade ago at USC.
Back then I had the good fortune of recording several of his recitals. They were always my favorite. He always handled pre-recital stress with a sense of fun and perspective, then went out on stage and commanded his instrument in the most graceful of ways. I find his playing simultaneously tastefully understated and full of energy and joy. I still can’t figure out how that’s possible.
I now have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview I conducted with Derek. It was long enough to divide into two parts. This is the first part. He has a fantastic little story about finding music at a young age, shares a bit about his background in life and in music, and talks about the first of the two pieces he is sharing with us, Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466. I’m happy that he shared a few thoughts on how to listen to a piece like this, as I think a lot of folks feel a bit disconnected from classical music—and largely just from lack of knowledge and exposure.
First, enjoy part one of the interview: interview with Derek Polischuk
After the interview and the Mozart, listen to part two of our interview and take in the Derek’s performance of the Shostakovich Concerto No. 1. For more about Derek, visit his online staff profile at MSU. If you’re into teaching or learning piano, follow his Piano Pedagogy Blog. I’ll post the second half of the interview and Derek’s second performance soon.