SDPA Faculty Recital - MELISSA EVANS TIERRA
Saturday, March 25th, 2023 5:00PM
Healing and Hope: An Interactive Therapeutic Guide Through Music
Prelude Op. 37, No. 1 ‘Disillusionment’
Prelude Op. 37, No. 5 ‘Hostility’
Reflection Op. 12, No. 1 ‘Eye of Sound’
Preludio in do
Epigramma Op. 21, No. 5 ‘Barcarola’
Intermezzo Op. 43, No. 3
(Scroll below for program notes about the pieces and composers.)
MELISSA EVANS TIERRA is an American concert pianist and teacher known for her avant garde approach to music and performance. She frequently records and performs works written by living composers and in many cases introduces audiences to world premiers of new music. Currently, her concert concepts weave together other multimedia productions with the music, creating a unique and more connective experience for her audience. Known as the pianist who is 'a force of nature,' she commands a large presence for her small stature, dazzling audiences with her virtuosity and musicality while cleverly conjuring those listening to think outside the box.
She received her BM degree from Baylor University, studying with James Williams and her MM degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Cliburn winning pianist, Antonio Pompa-Baldi. She also received a Postgraduate Diploma from the Koninklijk Vlaams Conservatorium in Antwerp, Belgium, studying with Levente Kende. Mrs. Tierra has performed recitals in Austria, Italy, Belgium, and Israel and has been highly praised for her interpretation of modern music. She has studied with many other notable teachers including Jerome Rose, Kum Sing Lee, Alon Goldstein and honed her craft of modern music with composers, Lowell Liebermann, Jo Verdis, Jacob Adams, and Chetan Tierra focusing on their works specifically. Melissa has also won several notable performance awards and been featured on radio and television. In March of 2021, she was featured in a full page interview with the San Diego Union Tribune for her latest concept concert, 'Compassion for a Modern World'.
Melissa is currently co-founder and Academy Chair for the San Diego Piano Academy which not only teaches students in the San Diego area but also worldwide through several online course programs. She resides in San Diego, CA with her husband, Chetan Tierra who is also a concert pianist and composer. She also enjoys painting contemporary art in her spare time. To view some of her artwork, click here.
From Melissa: I was never much into the concept of musical therapy when I was in college, but in 2021 I had an unusual experience. A friend of mine suggested I try Primal Therapy. The practice involved screaming into a pillow 10 minutes straight for 7 days a week. After the screaming ended, I felt a weight lifted. I then found myself gravitating toward playing the piano, and I realized that music uniquely amplifies this experience.
And whether I wanted to admit it or not, music has essentially been my therapy, meditation, self-healing method, whatever you like to call it, for my entire life.
This concert, 'Healing and Hope: An Interactive Guide Through Music' explores these ideas. In the first half of the concert, you'll be invited to scream along with me and let it all go, and in the second half of the concert, I invite you to close your eyes, meditate and focus on hope.
Whether we wanted to or not, the last three years have tested and tried us as a human race like none other. We’re all here now harboring resentment, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, the list goes on… under the surface, we’re all struggling, but what are we doing about our own well being?
Are you holding on to your emotions, or are you ready to be free?
Disillusionment and Hostility Preludes - From a set of seven preludes written between 2020-2022. Written specifically for Melissa, with her tastes and proclivities in mind, each prelude, with the exception of the last is focused on an extreme, negative emotion. Other preludes from the set, titled, Agitation, Frustration, Isolation, Jealousy are each centered around the composer's creative way of working out some personal emotions during the pandemic.
JACOB ADAMS earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in piano performance from The Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Antonio Pompa-Baldi. He also received a DMA in piano performance and literature and MM in piano pedagogy from the University of Illinois. He has performed extensively in the Midwest and East Coast. An avid ragtime musician, Jacob began composing his own ragtime pieces in 1999 and has since composed over 50 rags. Several of his rags have won the New Rag Contest. Jacob is an extremely prolific composer having recently composed several pieces for beginner and intermediate pianists as well as several atonal compositions such as the Op. 37 Preludes.
Reflection Op. 12, No. 1, Eye of Sound - Written in 2022, Eye of Sound is the first of two reflections currently in the Op. 12 set. It was written for and dedicated to Chetan's grandfather who recently passed. It's a meditation of sorts and represents the moving on of a spirit into the afterlife. You get a good sense of this throughout the second half of the piece as motifs gently ebb to the surface and then echo in the distance, suggestive of where one's spirit resides in the void after life.
CHETAN TIERRA, a Yamaha Artist, pianist, composer and teacher, has delighted audiences across the globe in recital, as soloist with orchestra, and on radio and TV. He has performed on some of the world’s most renowned concert stages after making strong and winning appearances in the most prestigious international piano competitions such as the Queen Elisabeth, Van Cliburn, Jose Iturbi, Hilton Head, New Orleans, Unisa, and Seoul. The NY Concert Review praised his 2006 Carnegie Hall debut as “magnificent”, and his charismatic persona and emotional style have led to many praises from audiences and critics alike. His students regularly win local, national and international competitions and go on to study at top conservatories. Recently, for 2 years running, his students have won first and second prize in the San Diego Concerto Competition. His attention to detail, nuance, deep artistic expression and systematic approach to building a world class technique has made him one of the most in demand teachers in San Diego.
Preludio in do - Written in 1981 and revised in 2022, Preludio in do was one of Ezio's first compositions in his teen years. It has impressionistic sounds and is a clear inspiration to Claude Debussy. The piece's timbre development, dynamics and touch are some of its key features. It starts by presenting the main theme: simple and clear, as an origin point, and after the developing section, returns to end in the same way. Some new measures were added in 2022 for its final completion.
EZIO ROBA, an Italian composer, began his studies in piano but ended up a graduate in Biological Sciences instead. After nearly 20 years of 'silence', he has given new life to his music passion, producing many various beautiful works.
Epigramma Op. 21, No. 5 - Is the 5th piece in a set of 10 short poems for piano. Written in 2020, The fifth Epigramma is a Barcarolle with an initial ethereal and nocturnal character, which increasingly thickens by the superimposition of melodic lines, until it fades in the finale.
Intermezzo Op. 43, No. 3 - Dedicated to Melissa Evans Tierra, and written in 2022, Intermezzo no. 3 is a lyrical and quiet piece. It has a nostalgic, melodic line that depicts moments of tranquillity and melancholy, over a carpet of chords like a choral. The first part slowly evolves into a new more agitated episode in the middle section, followed by a return to the starting mood and the main theme with more movement in the left hand, finally vanishing in the final bars. This piece is uniquely ambiguous with its emotional impact. Sometimes you listen and feel it's full of happiness, other times sadness.
LUCA MOSCARDI, born in Ancona, Italy began studying the piano at the age of 11, graduating 9 years later at the “G. Rossini” State Conservatory in Pesaro. He took part in master classes and performed an appreciated concert activity for a few years. Essentially self-taught in composition, he began writing music from an early age. Today his musical catalogue consists of chamber and orchestral music, as well as many pieces for piano solo. His compositions converge different genres, from classical music of the 21st century to film music, in a various and eclectic language but always joined to the tonal system. 2021 marked the first performances in the United States of two of his works for soloist and orchestra, the Concertino Op.13a for piano and chamber orchestra (arranged from his Suite Op.13 for piano 4-hands) and the Elegy Op.28 “The Seagulls Cliff” for viola and strings.
Gaudium - Lost and forgotten, this piece was recently rediscovered in an email Jo sent to Melissa in 2010 and was finished in 2023 for this concert specifically. Gaudium, meaning 'joyful' in Latin, moves along at an uninterrupted pace and imitates cathedral bells.
JO VERDIS is an author, artist, composer, songwriter, teacher, and speaker. She holds two degrees and a postgraduate diploma in music composition, but the most important lessons she learned about creativity happened after she was disabled by a traumatic brain injury, through self-directed exploration of visual artmaking. Jo now sees most everything she comes across in life as a potential art supply or inspiration. Jo lives with her husband in North Texas.