He may not be the biggest fan of big cities, but Jaeden Izik-Dzurko is loving his life in New York.
“It’s a fantastic place to be,” says the second-year Juilliard student enthusiastically of his life at the prestigious conservatory in Upper Westside Manhattan, New York City.
Earning his bachelor of music in piano performance, 19-year-old Izik-Dzurko spends long hours learning and practising.
In his last semester, Mondays were the busiest days, with a survey of historical composers at 9 a.m., ear training at noon, a music course at 1, study of esthetics at 2:30 p.m., a piano performance class in which students perform for the rest of the piano students and a professor at 4 p.m. and, at 7 p.m., a studio class with his piano teacher and all of her students.
While that seems like a pretty full day, Izik-Dzurko says, “Ideally, after the piano performance class and studio class, I practise until I am too tired.”
Even on the quieter days of the week, when he only has three hours of classes, the devoted student is at the piano practising.
Since Juilliard is a conservatory and trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama and music, it’s more geared to grooming performing artists.
“There are a lot of really inspiring staff members; you see quite famous classical people going up and down the elevators,” he says. “It is an inspiring atmosphere, even from the theoretical stuff. We get very impassioned lectures from staff; they are as passionate as the students who are attending.”
Juilliard is in close proximity to the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Carnegie Hall, an exciting arts scene that proves an irresistible draw for the young Salmon Arm resident.
“I am a very avid concert fan, it’s a lot of fun,” he says, noting most of the venues provide excellent ticket prices for students. “The Metropolitan Opera’s student tickets are $35 or $39, and you can sit where you want. Some seats go for close to $400.”
Students can sometimes buy tickets for performances at Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic for as little as $10.
“I definitely kind of miss being in a city like Salmon Arm, but what I gain is tons of energy and vibrant city culture.”
His favourite is the “incomparable” music of opera.
“The MET puts on such fabulous productions, they have a fantastic team and the sets are so beautiful to look at.”
In November, he was thrilled by the celebration of Placido Domingo’s 50th anniversary of his Met debut and his performance in the title role of “Gianni Schicchi,” the third opera of Puccini’s “Il Trittico.”
And Izik-Dzurko is attracting audiences with his own performances.
In October, he performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, something he refers to as a “wonderful experience.”
In February, the talented pianist will perform in Masterworks IV with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra: in Kelowna at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb 15, in Penticton at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 and at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 in Vernon.
He will perform two different concertos – Chopin’s Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brilliante Op. 22 and Ernst Schneider’s A Romantic Piano Concerto.
Izik-Dzurko says he has no particularly set aspiration about where his musical career might take him because he understands how much of it is out of his control.
“A lot of success can depend on being accepted by a certain jury so it is ill advised to set your heart on one way of building a career,” he says. “So long as I can play and enjoy music throughout my life, I will certainly end up being fulfilled no matter what medium it is.”
Izik-Dzurko says he always looks forward to coming home to Salmon Arm, more so the longer he is away.
“When I am home, I ski as much as possible,” he says. “I especially look forward to performing here; it’s definitely a highlight of my performing year when I can perform at the Nexus.”
Hear the talented pianist perform works by Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff in a recital at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11 in the Nexus at First in Salmon Arm.
Admission is by donation and Izik-Dzurko will have CDs of some of his favourite pieces available for sale.
For more information, visit https://www.jaedenizikdzurko.com/music