Laura Ballestrino playing grand piano in front of orchestra

Laura Ballestrino's Artist Residency
Benefits Students Across Campus

Laura Ballestrino's Artist Residency
Benefits Students Across Campus

Where else can engineering, science, computing, business, liberal arts, and design students get tutored in piano by the winner of Juventudes Musicales de España?

School of Music's most recent artist-in-residence, Laura Ballestrino, gave a masterclass for Georgia Tech pianists, gave lectures to Music Technology students, visited the jazz ensembles, held a solo recital, and performed with the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra (GTSO) as a soloist.

"World-renowned artists regularly come to Georgia Tech to work with our student musicians and to perform with them," said Jason Freeman, School of Music Chair. "Laura's residency is a great example of this."

Ballestrino wowed the piano competition world in 2021, taking top honors at International Piano Competitions María Herrero, Gran Klavier, and Composers of Spain and Soloist Competition Intercentros Melómano.

Workshops and Masterclass

Jason Freeman and Laura Ballestrino talk on concert stage
Jason Freeman, left, and Laura Ballestrino talk after concert

While Ballestrino worked mainly with the GTSO, she also visited the jazz ensembles and held a piano master class for members of PianoForte.

"At Georgia Tech, students from all majors can perform in a dozen music ensembles, where they work with renowned faculty ensemble directors to make incredible music together," Freeman said.

“The piano master class was a really great experience. I had the chance to meet some of the pianists here at Georgia Tech," Ballestrino said. “Engineers and mathematicians are also great artists. They’re awesome people to work with. They’re very talented.”

“It’s nice to see people having that passion for music, even if it’s not their job.”

World Class Talent, Georgia Tech Performance

Wide view of symphony orchestra with solo pianist in front
GT Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven with Laura Ballestrino as soloist

At the GTSO concert Revive, Ballestrino was the piano soloist on Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58.

Ivy Xue, Principal Viola and third-year Neuroscience major said, "I thought the contrasting discourse between the orchestra and the soloist at the beginning of the second movement was really neat."

"The stern orchestral part is juxtaposed with these tender, lyrical lines from the piano."

A piano part of this nuance calls for a top-tier performance, and Ballestrino delivered beautifully.

“Laura showed our students what a professional musician of high caliber is capable of," said Chaowen Ting, Associate Professor and Director of Orchestral Studies. "She was a wonderful role model for our student community here at Georgia Tech."

"It’s always a cool experience to play with a soloist, and it was clear that Laura was very familiar with this concerto. It was a bit of a shock to realize that she’s practically the same age as many of us in the orchestra, though, considering how much she’s accomplished," Xue said.

Archaelund Premiere

Chaowen Ting and Laura Ballestrino discuss composition in front of orchestra
Chaowen Ting, left, and Laura Ballestrino discuss performance notes during final rehearsal.

Revive also included the premiere of Ballestrino’s composition, “Archaelund: The Orchestral Suite.”

"I am a passionate advocate for living and women composers, and GTSO has done many premieres in the past," Ting said.

Ballestrino worked with Ting and the GTSO to adapt the music, originally written as electronic music for a video game soundtrack, into an orchestral suite for live concert performance.

“It’s a very rewarding experience for our student musicians to realize the sound from the score for the first time, and it’s always a challenge to conceptualize the sounds based solely on written notations,” Ting said.

“This is why it’s much more exciting whenever we have the chance to work directly with the composer, to understand the creative process better while preparing for the musical performance.”

“For me, there has never been a barrier between old music and new signal technology,” Ballestrino said. “Piano is a kind of technology, the machine for that era. Now we have computers and we have MIDI and we have video games.”

Working with the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra was a natural fit for Archaelund’s premiere. “It’s very special to me that Georgia Tech plays and performs this because they also embody technology,” Ballestrino said.

“They really comprehend technology, but they also comprehend art.”

Solo Recital: "Echoes of Ibero-America"

Ballestrino playing grand piano
Ballestrino playing solo recital at West Village 175, Georgia Tech

Ballestrino closed her residency with a solo recital, the first concert of her contemporary music tour “Echoes from Ibero-America.” She opened with Lontananzas, by Antón García Abril, before moving into La Maja y el Ruiseñor from Enrique Granados’s Goyescas.

The next two pieces were original Ballestrino compositions: Alegría, which means happiness, is based on the flamenco palo of the same name, and El círculo de Kandinsky, combines Ballestrino’s love of jazz with Russian folk influence.

Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 followed, featuring Argentinian folk influence, inspiration from factory sounds, and the avant-garde.

She closed the program with Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango.

"At the recital, students were able to hear Ballestrino talk about each piece she performed, sit up close to watch her play, and stay after the event to talk with her more about the performances and her compositions," Freeman said.

"This was another great opportunity for Tech students to learn from an incredible artist."


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