Classically trained pianist, award-winning performer works with OHIO students

The Ohio University School of Music welcomed Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner to the Glidden Recital Hall in October as the first performer in this year’s Keyboard Recital Series. 

Sanchez-Werner is a 26-year-old classically trained pianist from California and the youngest admittee to Juilliard’s undergraduate program at just 14. After completing his master’s degree (also at Julliard) he is now an adjunct professor at New York University. Sanchez-Werner has received countless awards and performed for President Barack Obama, and now President Joe Biden. 

He regularly performs 3-10 times across the country each month, and Ohio University was proud to welcome Sanchez-Werner to campus as part of the Keyboard Recital Series.

Each year, students and faculty in the School of Music’s Keyboard Division spotlight top performers in the field by way of visiting artist and faculty recitals.

“We usually start planning about a year in advance, sometimes a bit earlier because we do have some really impressive people coming through, so a lot of times they’ll book a year or two in advance,” explained Emely Phelps, assistant professor of instruction in the School of Music.

“We average somewhere between three and four [visiting] artists during the year, split up between the fall and spring semesters,” she continued. “Each of the pianists [performs] a full-length solo recital and then a master class for our students.” 

During these master classes, student participants receive constructive criticism on stage from the visiting professional musician.

“Students are chosen for master classes in two ways, usually they indicate interest and then Dr. Christopher Fisher (professor of piano and co-chair Keyboard Division) and I discuss to identify who would be best prepared, and also the best fit for what we expect that visiting artists teaching style to be like, because that can be a really different thing from person to person,” Phelps said. 

Fisher and Phelps try their best to spread out the student participation so all the young artists have a chance to work with a professional on stage as often as they can. Choosing the right student for the masterclass is no easy task considering there are a wide variety of focuses in the program, from music education to music therapy and others. 

Weida Zhou
Weida Zhou

After careful consideration, Weida Zhou, a second-year graduate student pursuing a master of music in piano performance, was selected to appear on stage next to Sanchez-Werner. He was able to play a piece he had been working on and receive feedback from the artist. 

“He gave me some good advice,” Zhou said, “like my fingertips, how to relax them when I play and he helped me to find better fingerings. He showed me how to relax and play the chords with my whole arm.” 

Zhou has been playing the piano for as long as he can remember at the request of his mother.

“She wanted to me learn a skill and well, my math was so bad, so yeah, I chose piano,” he explained in a jovial tone. 

After he graduates, Zhou plans to move back to China where he wants to become a teacher and start a studio of his own, perhaps even “teach a masterclass myself!”

“For musicians to be able to hear someone extraordinary come in and have a really high level of artistry or technique, it is just so incredible and there really is nothing else like that at all,” Phelps said. “I did my undergraduate in New York, so I could go out any night during the year and hear major international artists. Being able to bring that same caliber of musicians to Athens a couple times a year is very meaningful me and definitely inspirational for our students.” 

https://www.ohio.edu/news/2023/10/classically-trained-pianist-award-winning-performer-works-ohio-students Classically trained pianist, award-winning performer works with OHIO students

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