Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?
When I was five, I saw my older cousin on stage, playing the piano. She wore a glamorous dress and looked gorgeous on stage. It didn’t take a minute for me to decide that I wanted to be like her. However, I was utterly disappointed after the first few lessons. I had thought it was going to be easy! Nonetheless, I spent the first year with a cardboard keyboard as my parents weren’t able to afford a real piano yet. It was good training as I still “practise” on tables and in my mind.
Who or what were the most important influences on your playing?
Meeting my teacher John Perry changed my perception of music completely. He “allowed” me to play beautifully. This was a new concept at the time. Until then, I was made to believe music is only hard work, stress, exhaustion and careful planning. His tone was magical; he was able to draw the most mesmerising sounds from the keyboard.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Career and personal life always interfere with each other. Making certain choices is inevitable and one always wonders whether one has made the right decision. Having my son four years ago has lead to my moving back to Bulgaria and placing performing lower in the priorities list. However, I used the time to create Modo with its numerous classical music projects. I feel this work was extremely valuable to me as a musician and as a human being. Furthermore, I believe it had enriched my understanding of music enormously and the result is audible in my playing.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
Interestingly enough, my best performances are preceded by extreme stress. One of my best recitals in Los Angeles was after I had a car accident on my way to the concert venue, a curious detail was the other driver’s name – Jesus. In another instant, during the Beethoven Hradec competition I was seven months pregnant. It seemed so impossible to even reach the finals, that I didn’t bother bringing a suitable dress. Well, I won the First Prize and had to buy one that would fit for the gala concert!
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
Several of Modo’s signature’s projects have taken place in the open air, near lakes, in parks and gardens. I believe a very natural setting for making music is indeed in the nature. It makes me feel like a painter who is able to take his easel to wherever he wants. A very rare and special feeling for pianists!
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I’m deeply connected to Schubert’s music. Playing any of his pieces feels absolutely effortless and deeply emotional to me. Same is applied to listening. His Lieder is, of course, a real treat.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Answering with specific names would require a classification. I’m trying to distance myself from the competition model as it is hardly suitable for the arts. Still, the names that immediately pop up in my mind are those of Schubert singers – Fisher-Dieskau, Alain Buet, Matthias Goerne.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Just recently I had a very interesting experience during a Pillow Concert – one of Modo’s projects for families with small children. During a completely unknown Hungarian piece for clarinet and piano, the audience impulsively decided to participate with clapping. The piece changes pace in every two bars but the 150 people in the hall were extremely attentive and managed to really stay with us in not just time but also in articulation and character. The unification with the audience, half of which consisted of babies and toddlers, was a truly overwhelming moment. I thought my heart would explode.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Who you are in life is who you are on the stage.
What are you working on at the moment?
A programme with a violin which includes Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata, Ysaye’s Chant d’hiver and Piazzolla’s Verano Porteno. Also, Schubert’s Moments Musicaux and G Major Sonata for my upcoming recital in St. James Piccadilly.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Making music with similar minded musicians, experimenting in the kitchen for my friends.
Veneta will be performing at St James’s Piccadilly on Wednesday 21st August 2013 in a lunchtime recital beginning at 1:10pm. The programme will include works by Chopin and Rachmaninoff.
Veneta Neynska began her musical career in her native Bulgaria at the National School of Music before graduating with the highest honors and moving to the United States of America to study with renowned pianist John Perry at USC Thorton School of Music. Veneta was then offered a prestigious scholarship to attend Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she had the opportunity to study with Joan Havill, as well as perform in master-classes with internationally acclaimed pianists, including Imogen Cooper, Alexei Nasedkin, Jerome Lowenthal and Dominique Merlet. Veneta has won numerous prizes and competitions across the globe, and performed alongside some of the world’s greatest musicians.
Veneta Neynska’s website