by Dacia Clay
Nadia Shpachenko is a multiple Grammy-nominated pianist and Professor of Music at Cal Poly Pomona University who has never stopped playing with her toys.
Shpachenko’s love of playing—both with toys and on her piano, and sometimes, with her toy piano—is part of what makes her new album, Quotations and Homages, so much fun to listen to. She’s got this wide-open sense of adventure that comes across not only in her playing, but in the pieces she commissions and the composers from whom she commissions them. (Shpachenko seems to choose composers by their willingness to be co-conspirators in her exploits as much as for their compositional aptitude.) An album of pieces that pay homage to everyone from Messiaen to the Velvet Underground? Yes! A piece inspired by Stravinsky called “Igor to Please” written for 6 pianists on 2 toy pianos, 2 pianos, and electronics? Yay! Let’s do it!
In this interview, Nadia talks about why she’s such an advocate for new classical music, about the ideas that inspired this new album and the pieces therein, and about breaking piano strings.