Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra


"The PCO makes a crucial contribution to the culture of the Greater Pittsburgh area, and I'm so honored to have been a part of that." Rishi Mirchandani, PCO 2012-2013 Young Artist Competition Winner

Interview with Young Artist Winners

By Carolyn Painter

Winning the PCO Young Artist Competition is an impressive feat, but two winners from the same family is uncommon.  Rishi (2012 winner) and Suvir (2011 winner) have beaten those odds.  Recently, I caught up with the brothers to ask them about the competition and life afterwards.

Q:  Why did you decide to audition for the PCO Young Artist Competition?

R:  I decided to audition for the PCO Young Artist Competition because the chance to play with a full orchestra is one of the most exhilarating experiences that a young musician can have.  The dynamic collaboration that takes place between musicians on stage is exciting to watch and even more thrilling to participate in.

S:  I have been studying piano since I was five years old.  When I was about 12, my piano teacher, Ms. Luz Manriquez encouraged me to learn Kabalevsky’s Youth Concerto, a wonderful piece set in what used to be Communist Russia.  I was immediately drawn to the vibrancy of the first movement and the shimmering lyricism of the second.  When I was prepared with the piece, I was looking for a chance to perform with an orchestra and so I auditioned for the PCO Young Artist Competition.  I was glad to learn that the PCO musicians are very supportive of their young artists, and when I went to the rehearsal, I was moved by the genuine warmth with which I was received.

Q:  Tell me about the evening of your performance.  What did you play?

R:  For my performance, I played the Allegro molto moderato movement from Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor.  The Grieg is one of my favorite concertos because of its broad, sweeping melodies interspersed with light, spritely passages.  Grieg’s work is heavily influenced by the Norwegian fairy tales he grew up with, and the various characters in these fairy tales mesh together beautifully when a full orchestra is in sync with the soloist.

The performance went quite smoothly.  Maestro Davidson and I had a great rapport, and everyone on stage was really into the music.  On stage, we also fed off the palpable energy of the audience.  The PCO has a wonderful fan base, and I immediately felt welcomed into the PCO community.  The PCO makes a crucial contribution to the culture of the Greater Pittsburgh area, and I’m so honored to have been a part of that.

S:  I was the youngest musician on the stage, with about 40 PCO performers, and about 300 people in the audience.  While I was a bit nervous before going to play, conductor Warren Davidson and the PCO musicians put me at ease.  The performance went well, and the standing ovation I received made me realize the power of regular and dedicated practice and hard work.

Q:  What piece are you currently working on?

R:  I’m currently working on the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major.  I like to think of it as French version on Rhapsody in Blue.  The Ravel is quite difficult to play but also a lot of fun.  I’m also trying my hand at Bartok’s Piano Sonata, which is in many ways the antithesis of the Ravel.  Dissonant and percussive, the Sonata is one of my favorite works by Bartok, and it’s worth the many hours of practice required to learn it.

S:  I am currently working on Khachaturian’s Toccata in e minor, Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 81a “Les Adieux”, and Chopin’s “Revolutionary” Etude.

Q:  What other interests and hobbies do you have besides music?

R:  Besides music, I spend a lot of time on mathematics research and debating.  In my free time, I like to play recreational cricket.

S:  Besides music, I am interested in computer science.

Q:  What have you learned from your study of music that you have been able to apply elsewhere?

R:  My study of music has taught me that art is extremely valuable as a document of the human experience.  The neat thing about music is that it’s the closest thing we have to a time machine.  When you go to a concert, you hear music with the same spirit and immediacy that it was performed with decades or even centuries earlier.  And the way the music is written can reveal much about the attitudes and atmosphere of the time period.  Music deepens my understanding of our history.

S:  Just like in music, in which there are multiple ways to interpret the same piece of written music given parameters set by the composer, in computer science there are usually many ways to approach a computer program.  The creativity required for the two fields seems to be different, but I find that I can relate my learning from one field to another.

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

R:  My two loves are mathematics and music.  I’m not sure yet which field I want to pursue for a future career, but I know for a fact that I want both science and the arts to be a part of my life when I grow up.  I’m applying to colleges this fall, and I’m hoping to be accepted some place where I can study math, music, or perhaps both.

S:  While my professional goal is to become a computer scientist, I intend to continue learning and supporting music.

Q:  What advice do you have for others who are interested in applying for the PCO Young Artist Competition?

R:  Don’t be shy about your musical statements.  When soloing with an orchestra, you have to be a leader on stage, setting the tempos and the mood for the rest of the musicians.  The best way to show the judges that you’re capable of doing this is to be bold and convincing in your audition.  Confidence and poise are paramount!

S:  There’s no harm in applying!  The audition is not at all threatening; all of the PCO musicians are very hospitable.  If you are selected as winner, the chance to perform with an orchestra will help you immensely to progress as a young musician.  If not, you can always try again!

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Author: Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra    Posted: 11/29/2014


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