PROGRAMS An Advanced Program for Exceptional Musicians
BY INVITATION ONLY “T
his is the upper one percent of the upper one percent in terms of talent, dedication and application, and no, these are not typical students,” explains Music Division Director Karl Paulnack. “If we invite a student to residency it means there is something really extraordinary about the way that they play, consistently.”
Paulnack refers to The Boston Conservatory’s Artist Diploma Program (ADP), a two-year program for those elite students who have begun their careers as concert artists and seeks personalized faculty mentorship and guidance as they hone their performance skills and transition to a life of international competitions and performances. These presti- gious programs are only found at schools that are focused on performance at the highest levels.
At The Boston Conservatory, students must be invited to
audition for the AD program and even then, only one or two are typically invited to enroll. Once enrolled, these students engage in two intense years of personalized study, perfor-
mance, competition and world travel. Most importantly, the program allows for intense, personal mentoring with acclaimed faculty.
International concert pianist Michael Lewin is one of the faculty members who mentors students in the AD pro- gram. “They are young professionals and they need the guidance of somebody who can help them to stand out amongst the greatest talents in the world.” In turn, these exceptional musicians bring global attention to the Conservatory through international performances and competitions. As Paulnack describes it, “The program is more of a partnership between the candidate and the school. The Boston Conservatory gives them the flexibility of a program where they can travel frequently, have access to any class and get one-on-one time with a faculty mentor.” The Boston Conservatory currently has three such students enrolled in the prestigious Artist Diploma Program: clarinetist Bo Kyung Byeon and pianists Kristhyan Benitez and Oleksandr (Alex) Poliykov.
With upcoming concerts scheduled in Venezuela, Mexico, Vienna and London, Kristhyan Benitez has a lot on his plate this year. But the 27-year-old pianist who travels worldwide and has already competed in several competitions—including the prestigious José Roca Interna- tional Piano Competition—is keeping his busy international schedule all in perspective. “It’s a great honor and a big responsibility. I know it’s not just me playing; I’m playing on behalf of the whole school,” Benitez explains.
KRISTHYAN BENITEZ (G.P.D. ’10, A.D.P. ’13, piano)
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela www.kbenitez.com
Benitez, who studied at the elite École Normale de Musique de Paris before coming to the Conservatory, describes the Artist Diploma program at the Conservatory as a very individual and personalized program. “It gives us a taste of how a solo pianist career works, but with the guidance of a faculty mentor who has lived that life.”
Benitez’s faculty mentor Michael Lewin, points to Benitez’s performance opportunities with the Venezuelan music program El Sistema as one of the keys to his success.
“If I agree to teach a student, I must feel they have a realistic chance for a successful professional life,” Lewin says. “Kristhyan is already a famous pianist in his own country and has a very large concerto repertoire. That experience, along with the tremendous physicality in his playing—he literally throws himself into the music—makes him a very in-demand concert pianist.”
Faculty Mentor: Michael Lewin
Looking ahead to the future, Benitez describes his ideal career, “My utopia would be to perform as a concert pianist and, one day, serve on the faculty of the Conservatory. When you perform, you give everything you have but when you teach, you give what you have to another musician and they transform it into something else. I want to have the opportunity to do both.”
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