Eric Shuren is a 16-year-old classical pianist who took third place out of hundreds of applicants in a prestigious international music competition this fall. He will perform in a winners’ recital at Carnegie Hall next month.
Q. You began playing the piano when you were 3 years old. How did you get into it?
A. I always used to love listening to music, every single type. And one day — well, every day, basically, when my (older) sister was practicing, I would always just stand by her, just watch her play. And after a few days I just started playing what she played, without any music. Eventually, I started taking lessons with Sergei Arzoumanov. I also play percussion at Suffern High School.
Q. You were named a third-place laureate of the American Protege International Romantic Music Competition this year, and you won an honorable mention last year. Winners get to play at Carnegie Hall. How do you feel about your upcoming performance and your second time playing at the famed concert hall?
A. I’m really excited for it and I’m also very honored that I’m going to be able to perform there. It’s a very prestigious place. I’m very honored to play with a bunch of other musicians that have come from all over the world. I have to be a little nervous because there’s going to be so many people watching … but it’s all for fun, this is a winner’s recital, and there’s no pressure, so it’s going to be very enjoyable.
Q. What is your favorite genre of music?
A. Every piece that I’ve performed on piano has really been classical from composers like Chopin, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven but I do like (listening to) all other types of music — like jazz and classic rock.
Q. Why do you love music?
A. Listening to the melodies, it always soothes me. Like, whenever I listen to jazz, it’s always so comforting. The fact that I can play music the way I do (very naturally) also has a big impact as well. It feels like this is maybe what I’m meant to do.
Q. You recently started composing. What was it like writing your first original piece of music?
A. It was just me sitting one day and all of a sudden this melody came in my head and I played it on the piano. I tried to write it down but I wasn’t really sure how to, so with the help of my teacher I was able to. He told me it looks very classical … so, I’m happy.
Shuren will perform the music of Frédéric Chopin at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 11:30 a.m. The piece is “Polonaise in A-flat major, Opus 53.”