Angela Barbuti, StraussMedia - New York Press
It was fate that brought Jiaxin Tian to New York to study music. Having been on a bunch of auditions in different cities, her last stop was New York. After that final try-out was over, and she was on her way back to her native China. On that plane ride, she met a professor from the Manhattan School of Music. It was then that she knew she would choose the school to further her study of the piano, and the rest is musical history here in the city.
In an upcoming engagement, she will play a solo concert at Carnegie Hall, just in time for Chinese New Year. Having been born in Beijing, she hopes to express her feelings for Chinese culture through this performance. “You can hear the sound of ancient Chinese history from the Ming period through the Cultural Revolution, and in the present day, you can hear us giving our best wishes to China,” she said.
You moved to New York in 2010. What did you think when you first got here?
Actually, my first time here was to audition. I traveled to different cities like Cleveland, Washington, D.C. and Boston and the last stop was New York City. When I got here, I thought, “This is so amazing.” Because we have a lot of concert halls like Carnegie, Lincoln Center and the Met, there are so many opportunities to listen to the best in music. Finally, I got into the Manhattan School of Music, and when I got here, it was the summertime. It was even more exciting to enjoy the summer in the city. I met my parents’ friends, and actually now they are my godparents. I lived with them for the first year and they really helped me. Everybody told me, “New York City is so expensive and the spaces are so tiny.” But when I got to their home, I was amazed. My godfather collects antique art and loves Chinese culture, so I saw a lot of Chinese-style stuff. And my godmother, her name is Erica Mason, she was an opera singer and they have a wonderful piano in their house. So when I saw that, I said, “This is my new life. Oh my goodness.”
I read that you ran into a professor from the Manhattan School of Music on a plane.
When I finished my audition here, I flew back to China. And on the plane, I met a lady. She just smiled at me and I smiled at her. And she said, “You look so cute. What are you doing here?” And I said, “I just finished my audition.” So she asked me, “Are you a musician?” And I said, “Yes, I’m a pianist.” And she said, “I’m a musician too. I’m a violinist.” And she asked me what schools I applied to. And when I mentioned the Manhattan School of Music she said she was on faculty there. And she said, “My husband is piano faculty.” He was on the plane and came to meet me. There were other schools that gave me scholarships, but I still chose New York City, because that was really special.
You went on to get two degrees there. What was your experience like at the school?
Yes, I got my master’s degree in 2012 and got a Professional Studies certification in 2013. I studied with Jeffrey Cohen there and he is really amazing. Now we are the best of friends. I got the opportunity to play with Philippe Entremont and now he is my mentor. Everyone knows he is amazing. He just celebrated his 80th birthday and he can still play really well. We will play together at a special event to celebrate China and France’s culture of friendship. They chose me for the Chinese part and him for the French part.