He was nervous, but not because he was about to play for about 50 people. The Snohomish eighth-grader has played for bigger audiences with more at stake.
He was nervous because he was about to be instructed by Macedonian virtuoso pianist Simon Trpceski.
"It's an honor to meet this guy," said Nathaniel, who is homeschooled.
He was one of five students selected by the Snohomish County Music Teachers Association to receive a lesson from the internationally renowned pianist. The other four students were Luke Selbeck, 18, a Kamiak High School senior; Carrie Beede, 17, a junior who is homeschooled in Snohomish; Jeanette Ojala , 17, a Glacier Peak High School senior; and Aaron Adams, 18, a Marysville Getchell High School senior.
The students each submitted an audition tape to be selected, and all advanced, association vice president Chelsea Bloomberg said.
Trpceski stood at the edge of the stage to hear Nathaniel play a Schubert piece. At the end, Trpceski praised his performance, but said there were areas where Nathaniel could improve.
Trpceski made Nathaniel practice his tone and tempo for about an hour. He also recommended Nathaniel practice more with his left hand, and sing more to understand the music and be more natural.
"Show me you are into it, not just playing the notes," Trpceski told him.
Jeanette waited for her turn to perform Chopin's Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 39.
She wanted to know Trpceski's interpretation of her favorite piece.
"He's a pianist I really admire," Jeanette said before her performance. "His music is very gorgeous to hear."
To be ready for her lesson, Jeanette had put in extra practice.
"I skipped school to practice Thursday," she said.
Trpceski has performed all over the world with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He performed in Seattle on Thursday and is scheduled for another concert today.
Bloomberg and some of her students had met Trpceski at a concert in Seattle three years ago. She was impressed by how he talked with them. She thought Trpceski would be a good inspiration for students and music teachers, so she asked in March if he was willing to teach a class in Snohomish County.
He agreed. Bloomberg just had to work with his manager to fit it in with his Seattle schedule.
Trpceski has given classes before in England, China and New Zealand, Bloomberg said. He's being paid for the lessons through a trust fund set up through the music teachers association, she said.
Trpceski said one of the reasons he gave the lessons was that meeting young musicians is important to him.
"That's the circle of life and a younger generation is always needed," he said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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