Scholarship Benefit Concert

The Humboldt State University Department of Music presents a new fundraising concert, the Scholarship Benefit Concert, on Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall.  The funds raised from the admission fee will help to boost the Scholarship Fund for undergraduate music students at HSU.  The admission price also includes a reception following the concert, and a pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m. by the dynamic duo of Daniela Mineva and John Chernoff, which will be lively, informative, and entertaining. The evening's repertoire will include works for piano four-hands performed by Mineva and Chernoff; the Arcata Bay String Quartet with guests Virginia Ryder and Ryan McGaughey playing Prokofieff's Overture on Hebrew Themes for Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano; McGaughey performing solo piano work by Bach; Annika Bäckström singing Sibelius; Cindy Moyer and Chernoff playing a Brian Post arrangement of Chick Corea's Children's Songs; a movement of the gorgeous Rachmaninoff cello sonata played by Garrick Woods and Mineva; plus performances by the the North Coast Brass Quintet and the Lyric Trio, featuring Terrie Strachan, Ellen Weiss and Felicia Oldfather.  Proceeds will benefit the HSU Music Scholarship Fund.  $25 General, $5 Child, $5 HSU Students with ID.

While there are many stories of the deep connection between the HSU campus community and the greater community of the North Coast, one that truly resonates as the music department prepares for this special concert is the journey of Ryan McGaughey from teenage pianist to HSU music graduate to HSU piano faculty.  How did this young man from Humboldt County advance from indifferent piano student to Graduate School at the Eastman School of Music, one of the top music conservatories in the nation?  Here's some of the story in Ryan's words:

"I started playing piano at the age of twelve, when my mom started lessons for me and my siblings against our will. After around six months of lessons our teacher moved away and we all pretty much stopped playing. But a few months later I stumbled upon a video of this guy playing video game music on the piano. When I saw this I was like, 'This looks fun! I want to do it.' I then started playing the piano again, but mostly video game music. Through this pianist I started to follow another youtube sensation who called himself the 'Video Game Pianist.' This guy also played classical music, just in case you were wondering. And ultimately I came across some piano music of Liszt, Chopin and Mendelssohn.  In that moment, I fell in love with classical music and purchased some books of piano music by Liszt. I was very determined to learn one of the Liszt etudes even though it was way beyond my piano and musical ability. I was still only playing basic video game music arrangements at the time. I did know, however, that slow practice was key to learning, so I took things very slowly and eventually I could play the Liszt piano works, although looking back I did not play them all that well!"  Ryan McGaughey

After a few years of being self-taught, he finally started piano lessons again.  When he graduated from high school he was not sure what he wanted to do, including whether or not he wanted to go to college.  He was eighteen when he met HSU music professor and Director of Keyboard Studies Daniela Mineva, and that's when everything began to change and his piano playing life started to become a plausible career path.  Mineva encouraged him to apply to Humboldt State University to major in music with an emphasis in piano performance.  While at HSU, he grew as a musician and pianist.  He won several concerto competitions, and performed with Eureka Symphony, Humboldt Symphony, and North State Symphony in Redding.  He also traveled to summer music programs and took lessons from some of the best piano instructors in the world, as well as meeting other exceptional student musicians.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree at HSU, he went on to complete a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he studied with the Van Cliburn Piano Competition winner Alexander Kobrin.  McGaughey recalls, "It was quite a shock that I was accepted into Eastman because of how competitive it is. It is one of the best music schools in the world so there were hundreds of pianists auditioning for only a few open spots. I will never quite know how I got accepted. Eastman was a pretty tough school, but I enjoyed my two years there and learned more than I could have ever imagined I would. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study there. It has been a fantastic journey!"

When he was in Rochester, however, McGaughey did realize how much he loves his home, Humboldt County.  He is happy to be back on the North Coast, teaching at the school that changed his life, and that helped him find his way to a career in music. "Meeting Dr. Mineva and attending Humboldt State University was a life changer, although I don’t know if it would have been possible without the financial support from those who were generous enough to offer aid to students in need. I was lucky enough to be a recipient of several scholarships during my time at HSU, and that financial support was incredibly helpful in allowing me to continue my studies. If you are or have been someone who has funded scholarships for students, I want to say thank you, and that your generosity is so much appreciated and does not go unnoticed."

Don't miss this opportunity to hear McGaughey play solo Bach as well as ensemble works with his former teachers and current colleagues, all while also helping current and future HSU music students by raising vital scholarship funds in the process.  And don't forget to arrive early for the pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m.