WHAT IS A COLLABORATIVE PIANIST, YOU MAY ASK?
Any pianist who is not playing alone is a collaborative pianist. We perform with orchestras, in piano trios and quartets, in recitals with singers, in four-hand or two-piano duos, and so much more! Also, that amazing Carmen production that you just saw wouldn’t have been possible without the rehearsal pianists and the vocal coaches who prepared the singers. A collaborative pianist played the celesta for the Nutcracker your whole family attended, and he or she played for all the dance rehearsals, too. We also teach other pianists, we serve as staff accompanists, and many of us become conductors!
Think of collaborative pianists as music stem cells that develop into many different tissues. The great pianists Sviatoslav Richter started his career as a ballet accompanist and continued to play with various partners throughout his life. Patrick Summers, the Artistic Director of Houston Grand Opera, was first a collaborative pianist and vocal coach. When Renee Fleming gives a recital, her partner is a collaborative pianist.
What makes us truly special, though, is that being a collaborative pianist requires a completely different set of skills than being a soloist or a solo piano teacher. And the road to perfecting those skills is largely unmapped.