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A Carnegie Hall Debut

Juan Carlos Fernandez-Nieto, Graduate Center music student
By Bonnie Eissner

For pianist Juan Carlos Fernández-Nieto, a D.M.A. student at the GC, getting to Carnegie Hall took practice and luck. In early June, when the Chamber Orchestra of New York needed to replace an injured pianist — Zhang Zhou — Fernández-Nieto got the call.

An accomplished chamber musician who has performed around the world, Fernández-Nieto was packing to go home to Spain, when the orchestra reached him.

“So I ended up moving houses, changing my flight, and spending a week locked in a room with a piano getting ready for Carnegie,” he says.

Actually, he had only six days. Fortunately, he had performed the piece — Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271, “Jeunehomme” — previously, but, he says, that was “so many years ago that it really felt like I was learning it from scratch.”

Fernández-Nieto made his concert debut in Spain at age 16 and says that playing at Carnegie Hall was one of many goals. The famed concert hall lived up to its reputation. “Carnegie Hall is such a magical place that it just carries the music out of you,” Fernández-Nieto says.

Earlier this year, he reached another milestone when he released his first commercial album, which has since garnered favorable reviews.

He is playing throughout Europe this summer —Ukraine, Russia, and Spain — and plans to tour China next year.

He chose to come to the GC for a doctorate after earning a master’s degree and an artist diploma from Yale. “I was looking for a good school with a great teacher who would give me enough leeway to pursue my own career,” he says.

At the GC, he has been working closely with Urusula Oppens, whom he describes as “really supportive of her students.”

“It is a joy to play for her, and given that she has such vast concert and performing experience, she knows how to approach things that could be challenging,” he says.        

Submitted on: JUN 21, 2017

Category: General GC News | Music Ph.D. - D.M.A | Student News