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Sarah Davis Buechner - Pianist

Top Class Diner - of Music

An interview article with Sara Davis Buechner
By Rosemary Phillips, 2012

Sara Davis Buechner
Sara Davis Buechner
UPDATE: Sarah now resides in Philadelphia where she joined the faculty of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2016. What is so fascinating about writing such interview articles is following up to see where the artists go in their careers and lives. At the time of this article Sarah was living in Vancouver and teaching at the University of British Columbia. Life rolls on! (See below for a link to her web site and more information.)

An ex-New Yorker (boldly admitting to ‘been there and done that’), and now a Vancouverite (since 2003-2016), pianist Sara Davis Buechner is known internationally for her astounding virtuosity and yet when asked to talk about music compares herself to a diner. “They have everything on the menu; pork chops one night, chicken another. Someone can call me up for Mozart but I can do chamber music, dances, film scores, silent films and Gershwin. I have an eclectic taste, with lots of fun and variety.”

Pierre Simard, artistic director for the Vancouver Island Symphony, called Sara up for Beethoven to perform Piano Concerto No. 3 for the concert titled B is for Brilliance. “I’m really looking forward to this concert!” she said enthusiastically, then laughed; “I am honoured to have ‘B is for Brilliance’ attached to my name – but I can’t really put myself on a level with those fellows (the big B’s - Bach, Beethoven and Brahms).”

Brilliant Beethoven - No matter, with over 100 concertos in her repertoire (ranging from A to Z) and performances around the globe with prominent orchestras, recordings that receive regular airplay worldwide and a reputation as one of a few pianists to actively perform piano scores to silent movies (such as the restored Ben-Hur performed at the Lincoln Center), Sara is definitely up for the event and says of this particular piece, “It is in Beethoven’s 3rd that he achieved the epitome of the great classical concerto. It was his middle period; he knew exactly who he was with style and personality. There is utter perfection to the form and material. I often come back to the 3rd as my favourite Beethoven. When that piece is over and I’ve finished playing there is such satisfaction and contentment.”

Early beginnings - While stand-up comedy would be Sara’s second choice for a career, she knew from her earliest memories she would be a musician. “I was drawn to it when listening to the radio, and I touched the piano every chance I had. For a lot of child prodigies that’s the way it is; born with gifts and talents. I had the good fortune of a wonderful teacher who helped me develop them.”

Sara started music studies when she was just three. “My older brother was taking lessons from a teacher who came to our house in Baltimore (on the East Coast). She thought I was too young but once I had learned all my brother’s piano books she took me on. My parents hoped their children would have a better future; they had not been to college or travelled very much. Their emphasis was on good grades, a piano in the home, and music lessons. Even though they were poor and not musicians themselves they realized the value of a musical education.”

From New York to Vancouver - Most of Sara’s younger life was spent in the Big Apple. “I studied at Juilliard and went to various competitions.” What Sara doesn’t mention is the many prizes she won – from Salzburg to Sydney, Vienna and Moscow. “I have such an appetite for music; I love playing it, talking about it, and teaching it.” It was her passion for teaching music that brought Sara to Vancouver. “I always had my eye on the West Coast and when the position came up to teach at UBC I jumped at it.”

International notoriety of a different kind - But this is just the tip of Sara’s musical life. Would you believe she has been adopted by the Hanshin Tigers, Osaka’s baseball team? “The owner of the team is a music lover. He had a press conference where people took my photo and put a cap on my head like I was signing with the team. Whenever I am in Osaka I go to a game. In Japan I give lessons and master classes, and I’ve learned Japanese so that I don’t need an interpreter.”

Getting back to the diner - literally, what would be Sara’s favourite food? “That’s like asking my favourite composer. I can’t give a single answer. However, if it really came down to a last meal, it would be food to make me the most at ease and satisfied – a huge breakfast with pancakes, muffins, bacon, and lots of steamy hot coffee.”

For more information, recordings, biography, bookings, visit Sara's website

NOTE: There are many more articles on this site about great musicians and artists - see Index of Articles.

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