Sounds of India & France through Violin
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About the Event
About Priyanka Venkatesh
For Priyanka, music, as artful vibration, is the essence of our existence. In each performance she strives to help her audience remember the joy inherent in our essence. Before a performance, in preparation for a musical experience, Priyanka often encourages her audience to a state of self-awareness through a meditation.
As a mélange of cultures, the Indian-American violinist defines intercultural awareness as one of the hallmarks of her musical career. Versed in Western and Indian classical music, Priyanka is acutely aware of the ways a culture’s music is a reflection of its ethos, and she revels in the opportunities music creates for cross-cultural communion. Her repertoire spans music from Spain to Hungary, Turkey to Iran, Argentina to India, and in recital she aims to not just perform, but to elaborate on just what makes these musics unique…and alike.
At Stanford University, Priyanka pursued Violin Performance while also completing pre-medical requirements and a minor in Human Biology, a combination which has fueled her passion for connecting the human experience with the sanctity of sound. Outside of Stanford, Priyanka has been winner of UC Irvine’s Concerto Competition, has served as a fellow of the Atlantic Music Festival, and has performed many recitals with her brother (pianist, Vijay Venkatesh) as a part of the Beverley Hills Classical Music Auditions Series. With the South Asian Symphony Foundation, founded by Ms. Nirupama Rao, (former Indian ambassador to the United States) she travels to India to foster peace in the region through musical performances blending various musical traditions.
Experiencing the power of music firsthand, she is a committed music educator and arts activist. She has contributed her musical talents to raise funds for charities such as Pratham, a large and long-standing NGO committed to providing quality education for impoverished children in India. As a part of the Miss America Program, with the platform of “Keeping Arts Education Alive in our Schools,” she encouraged city councils and business officials to donate money towards arts programs. She also volunteers her time assisting education programs, such as the Santa Ana’s Orange County Children Therapeutic Arts’ Center (OCCTAC) and the Leadership Education and Advancement Program (LEAP) at UCLA. She has also served as Arts Faculty at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in Southern California.
Priyanka is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree in violin performance at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music under the guidance of Professor Movses Pogossian. While at UCLA she has been the recipient of the Mimi Alpert Scholarship for excellence in music. She has performed at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience Mindful Music Concert Series, Fowler-Out-Loud Concert Series at the Fowler Museum, the UCLA’s Chancellor’s Residence, and with Chilean singer-songwriter and social activist Nano Stern. She also has served as Teaching Assistant for the Music History course series, for which she has often lectured on the concept of Orientalism in Western music. She would be happy to tell you more about the concept!
Most significantly, for Priyanka, music has the power to distill our joyful spirit from fruit of life. It is her greatest pleasure and deepest motivation.
About Valerie Stern
Pianist Valerie Stern enjoys a multifaceted career as a classical performer, pop songwriter, arranger, and educator.
As a soloist, Valerie has been a prize-winner in the triennial Carmel Music Society Piano Competition, the New West Symphony Discovery Artists Competition, and the Torrance Symphony Concerto Competition. She presented a solo recital at the U.S. State Department after winning second prize in Washington D.C.'s International Young Artist Piano Competition.
A Los Angeles native, she divides her time between teaching, performing, and singing with her Japanese-American pop duo Layla Lane. With Layla Lane, Valerie has co-written songs for two Coca-Cola commercials, toured Japan and the U.S., and hosted recurring segments on Japanese TV, even though she doesn’t speak much Japanese. In the summer of 2018 Layla Lane was invited to perform the national anthems of both the U.S. and Japan on the field for Dodger Stadium's annual Japan Night. Their debut album is available on the Japanese major label Avex.
Valerie's recordings will be heard in the upcoming Amazon thriller Nocturne (2020), for which she is also the piano hand double for lead actresses Sydney Sweeney (HBO’s Euphoria) and Madison Iseman (Jumanji).She also appeared in the 2007 motion picture I Know Who Killed Me doubling for actress Lindsay Lohan, who plays a classical pianist in the movie. Recently, her performance was the soundtrack for a public service announcement by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
After graduating summa cum laude from USC’s Thornton School of Music, Valerie completed her master’s degree in Piano Performance under the instruction of Kevin Fitz-Gerald. She served on the adjunct piano faculty at Long Beach College from 2008-2018 and has been at El Camino College since 2014. She is currently pursuing her DMA degree in piano from UCLA, studying with Inna Faliks
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