Mastery in motion: Shepherd School students learn from award-winning pianist Daniil Trifonov

Daniil Trifonov master class
daniil trifonov master class isaac foreman dana rath
Grammy Award-winning pianist coached Shepherd School students Isaac Foreman and Dana Rath during a unique public master class March 21. (Photos by Rebecca Hasler)

What is it like to learn from a Grammy Award-winning pianist who has astounded audiences and critics alike with his virtuosic performances and profound interpretations? Several piano students from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music learned March 21 when Daniil Trifonov coached them during a unique public master class.

Trifonov has been lauded as one of the most extraordinary pianists of his generation for his unparalleled combination of technique, sensitivity and depth. His talent has earned him prestigious accolades, including Gramophone’s Artist of the Year and Musical America’s Artist of the Year, as he has charted a trajectory marked by triumphs at prestigious competitions and a repertoire that spans from Bach to contemporary works.

jonathan mak
Shepherd School pianist Jonathan Mak performed at the master class, receiving insight from Trifonov.

“Witnessing Daniil’s collaboration with our Shepherd School students is nothing short of a transformative experience,” said Matthew Loden, dean of the Shepherd School of Music. “His remarkable professional journey in multifaceted roles as a solo artist, concerto champion, chamber collaborator and composer provided inspiration to the Shepherd School’s next generation of musicians.”

The two-hour master class featured Shepherd School graduate students Isaac Foreman, Dana Rath, Saehyun Park, Szuyu Su and Jonathan Mak performing selections by Rachmaninoff, Grieg, Scriabin and Prokofiev.

Throughout, Trifonov offered constructive feedback to the students, providing detailed insight and supplemental ideas to improve their performances and enhance their expressivity.

The master class was presented in partnership with DACAMERA on the evening prior to Trifonov’s sold-out piano recital at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston’s arts district.

Shepherd School students will have another opportunity to learn from an industry leader in April when three-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, the Shepherd School’s 2023-24 Aleko Endowed Master Class artist, comes to Rice for a multi-day residency. Learn more about that here.