Pianist Simone Dinnerstein On Sharing Her Love of Bach

Simone Dinnerstein began studying the piano later in life than most concert pianists. She dropped out of Julliard for a while. And she struggled for recognition. Then she scraped together the funds to record Bach’s Goldberg Variations – and her career took off. The album ranked number one on the U.S. Billboard Classical Music chart its first week out. Three subsequent solo albums also topped the charts. 

Simone Dinnerstein sat down to talk with us about her career and why she’s passionate about sharing her love of Bach...

Bach figures prominently into your repertoire. Why do you find yourself drawn to his work? 

Bach's music combines all of the elements that I feel drawn to in art - intellect, craft and architecture combined with poetry and humanity.

Does your playing of pieces like the Goldberg Variations change from show to show?

Definitely. The overall approach is pretty consistent but the change of instrument and acoustics as well as my own state of being on the night and the feeling from the audience all contribute to the experience being new each time.

Here's a short clip of Simone practicing the Goldberg Variations 16-17:

Does this passion run in your family?

My parents are real role models to me. My father is an amazing artist and I grew up surrounded by his work and visiting museums with him. In fact, one of his most significant paintings, The Fulbright Triptych, is currently on exhibit here at the University! My mother is an early childhood education specialist, completely committed to children and creating the ultimate child-centered learning environments. Both of my parents are idealists and not very practical people!

Who are some of your favorite non-classical artists?

Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Nick Drake

Who are some of your favorite contemporary composers?

Philip Lasser, George Crumb, Philip Glass

Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘d’—to describe your music.

Delicate, Daring, Deep, Decisive, Dreamy

What has been your most exciting performance to date?

It's hard to pick just one, but possibly performing Mozart K467 with the Vienna Symphony at the Weiner Konzerthaus. Playing Mozart there felt unreal.

Whom do you define as a visionary?

I recently read “The Book of Strange New Things,” a novel by Michel Faber.  It was a very powerful book about being human and I would describe his writing as visionary.

What is the best advice that you have been given?

Many years ago, Mitsuko Uchida told me to get out of the practice room and start making money with my music. I think that – other than the real, practical implications of that – she meant to own my interpretations and go out into the world with them.

What do you hope audiences take away from your performances?

I hope that the music opens up something inside, that it makes sense of things in life that only music can approach.

Don't miss Simone Dinnerstein on Friday, Jan. 8 at 8pm. Tickets are only $10! For a chance to meet the artist, join us for the Creative Converstaion with Simone before the show at 7pm as well as the After Party at Cork & Keg immediately following the show with light hors d’oeuvres as well as a speciality cocktail, "Bach to the Future,” and live entertainment provided by Rachel Billingsly.

One lucky ticket holder will WIN a $25 bar tab!