Sara Daneshpour reflects on her Premiere Series experience


The American Pianists Association (APA) is like no other organization that helps promote the careers of young artists. Even though the Classical Fellowship Awards is a competition, the APA doesn’t treat the Finalists like “competitors.”  I can honestly say that they are interested in each of the 5 Finalists individually and genuinely. This organization is truly involved in growing and developing each pianist’s career – not rushing to pick a winner and forgetting about all others that were involved in the process. The competition’s unique yearlong approach and the concert setting in which the events take place, allow the musicians to truly focus on delivering music and connecting with the audience.


Photo by John Behringer

During my Premiere Series week, APA continued to tirelessly promote the upcoming concert that I would be playing at the end of the week, through radio interviews and many other media outlets. However, and more importantly for me, APA wasn’t just concerned with promoting the artist’s career, but was intent on developing the Finalist into a member of the community who could use their art to further society. I had the honor of working with the Warren Central High School Orchestra during a week-long residency, which culminated with us collaborating in a concert performing Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor. With their enthusiastic and extremely dedicated music director, Mr. Grady Emmert, we started on a journey that was very inspirational for me both as a musician and as a human being. The devotion of Mr. Emmert and the excitement and hard work of the students made me look forward to each day that I would be in that high school. Having the chance to spend time with the students, talk to them about music and being a musician, and working on the concerto over many rehearsals greatly impacted me. I am forever grateful for that opportunity. Go Warriors!!!!


Photo by Daniel McCullough

At the end of the week, I had the great opportunity to perform with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, with the phenomenal conductor, Maestro George Hanson. I had such an incredible time performing with the orchestra and Mr. Hanson. I felt so comfortable and free to express myself, knowing that they were right there with me and greatly enjoyed listening to them create such inspiring music. The audience was wonderful and I hope they enjoyed as much I did playing for them!

IMG_4202Photo by John Behringer

Lastly, but most importantly, the APA has provided each Finalist with a host family, who houses them and brings them into their family, treating them like one of their own. I am so blessed to have Becky and Kurt O’Connor as my host parents. They have been so generous and supportive each time I have come to Indianapolis. They drive me everywhere I need to be, cook food for me, Becky helped me iron my performance dress and they do it all with genuine love and kindness. I have been so fortunate to have made a lifelong friendship with Becky and Kurt and hope one day I can return all the kindness they have shown me.

Kurt O'Connor, Sara Daneshpour, Becky O'Connor

Sara Daneshpour, Finalist


Author: americanpianistsassociation

The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young, American jazz and classical pianists.

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