Venezuelan piano student Alejandro Orta experiences “a very artistic summer”

Published: October 4, 2022 Author: Emma Skidmore, BSJ ‘23

Alejandro Orta, a sophomore studying piano, experienced a summer of discovery in more ways than one.
Orta prepared Ballade No. 4 by Frederic Chopin to play at the 2022 Piano Pedagogy Seminar and Ohio Music Teachers Association State Conference. This piece is largely revered as one of the most difficult piano pieces in a standard repertoire, Orta explained.

“This summer was very good for me to grow as a musician,” he said.

Orta prepared for two months to play the song by memory, and received feedback from featured artist George Li, a pianist with an international reputation.

Orta also said he attended Li’s concert and said he had never felt anything like it.

“When you feel really into the piece … you feel that you’re playing [even if] you’re not,” Orta said.

Practicing over the summer allowed Orta to connect more with the music and clearly feel the vibrations from the piano, free from the distractions that come with a normal semester on campus.

“It was a revealing thing for me,” he said.

Orta also studied piano repair with Ohio University Piano Technician Christopher Purdy, which helped him understand the internal structure and function of the instrument.

“Every piano sounds different,” said Orta, who, after several years of effort garner enough support and entry into the U.S. to attend Ohio University’s School of Music and its Piano Performance program, finally began as a first-year student in 2021.

“Every concert that you hear in your life is going to be different … I didn’t know that before the summer.”

Orta explained how not only playing – but understanding – the piano made him feel more connected to his artistic process. For him, the most important part of the process is the journey, and the suffering incurred while learning and doing new things; the reward is not the goal.

“One of the worst mistakes is thinking about winning or losing and not having the feeling of adventure and play,” he said.

“Objectivity is about applying all of our energy and effort to the task and enjoying the journey without focusing on the end result.  Whether you win or lose, the important thing is to keep going and take learning through experience, so you don't make the same mistakes.”

Orta said he thinks about his practice like a wheel. Many people live on the outside of the wheel, which represents wealth, power, pleasure and honor. The middle of the wheel represents the values that allow artists to truly serve the music.

“Being in the center means to do music with love and humbleness,” he said.