Allegra Chapman ‘05 Returns to Coach Chamber Music Ensembles

Allegra Chapman ‘05 returned to Branson on Tuesday, November 19 to teach a masterclass to three of our chamber music ensembles in Rachel Kim's Performance: Classical seminar. The San Francisco-based pianist is an alumna of the Branson School and a graduate of Bard Conservatory, the Juilliard School, and San Francisco Conservatory. As the founder and executive director of Bard Music West, Chapman is dedicated to connecting with new audiences as performer, presenter, and educator. This was the second master class she’s offered at Branson since graduating. Read her bio. 

She first coached a Branson piano trio (Lawrence Bancroft ‘21 - piano, Sophie Liu ‘23 - violin, Andrew Maxwell ‘22- cello) in their performance of the Gavotte from Frank Bridge’s Miniatures, posing the question: what does it mean to be a piano trio?

“The collaboration of chamber music starts long before the actual music begins,” observed Chapman as she stage-directed. “It’s how you get on and off stage, how you communicate with each other on stage. It’s breathing together, cueing together, feeling what each other is doing.” The class observed how these seemingly simple things can make a huge difference in the music.

Pianist Adriana Nordlicht ‘23  and teacher Rachel Kim performed an excerpt from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. Commending the performance, Chapman acknowledged that performing alongside your teacher can be daunting. “You’re doing a beautiful job of playing your part in its full glory. You already have a lot of colors but you can heighten what you’re doing.” She urged all instrumentalists, particularly pianists, to sing their melodic lines as they practice them. 

Another trio rounded out the morning, as violinists Shun Graves ‘23 and Sophie Liu '23 joined violist Nathan Yamamoto (an alumnus of Marin Academy) to perform Dvorak’s Terzetto Op. 74. Chapman took this opportunity to talk about the unique and important role of each of the players in a string trio – both as a leader and a follower. She also shared some tricks to cope with performance anxiety:

“Sometimes all we need is to remind ourselves of what we’re doing and give ourselves more confidence. You can trick your mind: if you’re really nervous and you don’t feel confident, pretend to be that person who’s confident – Heifetz, whoever – and sure enough, you’ll start to become more confident. The audience doesn’t need to know that you’re nervous.”

“It’s great to come back to Branson,” reflected Chapman. “I have so many wonderful memories of when I was here, and it’s so exciting to see how the arts program has grown. I love coming back and seeing the teachers who were here when I was. It’s fun to be able to give back in any ways that I can and to stay part of the community.”