Holding his cello, an instrument centuries old and once belonging to the revered Pablo Casals, virtuoso Amit Peled told student Luc-Oliver Vavel that he needed to tell a story while playing on stage.
The notes, Peled said, are how you decorate that story.
Peled, an Israeli-American cellist, stressed phrasing and vibrato technique to Luc-Oliver, 17, a student at New World School of the Arts who has played the cello since he was 5.
“You don’t just practice playing the notes,” said Peled, on the stage at Congregational United Church of Christ in Coral Gables. “You need to know why.”
Peled appeared June 18 at the church’s Community Arts Program Summer Concert Series.
Mark Hart, the program’s executive director, also invited him to teach a master class for six students, including Luc-Oliver, who aspired to be performing artists. Peled wasn’t shy with the young cellist.
Luc-Oliver described Peled’s constructive criticism as “nerve wracking.”
Afterward, the teen said he was grateful to learn from an “A-list college professor” and musician.
Peled, born 42 years ago in Israel, recalled his own experience as a music student.
“I didn’t like teachers who would just clap for me and say ‘Oh, you’re great, what a great talent, come and study with me,’” Peled said. “No, I liked the teacher who said, ‘You’re talented but, A-B-C-D and boom, boom,’ and basically killed me. I liked it because that’s how I got better.”
Hart said that for young students, part of performing is getting used to playing under pressure. The master classes allow students to perform on stage while a respected musicians can correct any bad habits.
“As you get older and look back at experiences like this, you’ll see it was only an investment,” said Hart, who’s been at CAP since 2003.
The next master class is Friday, to be conducted by Awadagin Pratt, a piano professor and artist-in-residence at University of Cincinnati who has spent his career teaching students how to get jobs and win classical music competitions.
Pratt, who performs for the public Thursday night in the Summer Concert Series, is a pioneer. In 1992, he became the first African-American pianist to win the international Naumburg Piano Competition. His career gained momentum shortly after, and since then, Pratt has played all over the world, including in 2009 for President Barack Obama at the White House.
Other master class instructors this summer will be drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis of the New Orleans Marsalis “first family of jazz,” and Latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill, a 2015 Grammy winner.
The teachers will offer students wisdom for both on and off the stage.
“You’ll get a wide pallet of the many roads it takes to get where you want to be,” Hart said. “You bring in all of these diverse artists and the message is: No matter who you are, anything is attainable.”
If you go
▪ What: Young Musicians’ Summer Master Classes presents Awadagin Pratt
▪ Where: Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables
▪ When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 17