James W. Iman

It is our pleasure to introduce the American Pianist James W. Iman this week - do take a look and support his Kickstarter: James W. Iman Plays Boulez, Amy, and more!, in collaboration with HELLO STAGE backers can receive a FREE 6 months Pro-Membership!

We all know HELLO STAGE’s favorite color! What’s yours?

I'm a fan of crazy socks, so I wear a lot of different colors. If I were to narrow it down I would say something muted in tone. Probably a slate-blue

What was the best advice a teacher ever gave you?

When I was close to the end of my graduate career, the Chair of the Music Department (who had also been my conducting professor) told me to "keep going." He had heard my graduate recital, and my performance of Stockhausen's Klavierstuck IX. His encouragement came at a critical point for me - so him advising me to continue to pursue my interest in 20th/21st century music, in no small part, is why I am where I am today.

How has your practice changed with time?

I've become a lot more analytical in my approach, and a lot more disciplined (I suppose that might come with age!). That is, I will spend far more time studying the score before I start to learn a work, and once I start learning a work I methodically work out every fingering and all the 'choreography.' I've also become rigorous in documenting my goals and whether or not I reach them - my practice journal sits open on top of my piano.

What do you think is the most important trait of a successful artist in today’s modern world?

Interactivity. Culture, I think, is moving more and more towards being 'on demand.' So, being available and interacting with your audience is important to building a relationship and rapport, and by extension a career.

How much time do you spend every day on Facebook, twitter, and which other ways do you use to promote yourself?

Lately a lot! It's sporadic, of course. Over the course of the day probably an hour in total. It doesn't take long to post a tweet!

When did your passion for XX and XXI century music begin?

Towards the end of my undergraduate career. My musical tastes had started out rather conservative, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and the like. I discovered the middle and late works of Scriabin and became fascinated. Shortly after I discovered the works of Messiaen and read John Cage's Silence. From there it took off!

Tell us more about your Kickstarter! :)

The Kickstarter is an effort to raise the money to record my debut album on the ZeD Classics label. The producers and I have planned an album juxtaposing Second Viennese works with Darmstadt works: Schoenberg's Three Piano Pieces op.11, Webern's Variations for Piano op.27 along side Boulez's Third Piano Sonata, and the World Premiere recording of Gilbert Amy's Piano Sonata- a work strongly influenced by the Boulez.

With 2015 being the 90th birth-year of Boulez it seems appropriate to record the Third Sonata anew and to place it alongside Amy's response to it. Placing these two works along side pieces that have had such a strong influence on Boulez and Amy places their works in an eye-opening context. Do you have an all-time favourite piece? This is not a fair question! There are so many different works that I enjoy for different reasons - picking seems impossible! Scriabin's Poeme de l'Extase is certainly towards to the top of the list. Messiaen's Harawi is a remarkable work and, I think, the best of his middle-period religious works. Barraque's Piano Sonata is a remarkable monolithic work that is violent and timid and, in its gentler moments, has a crystalline beauty.

If I had to pick one work I think it would have to be Schoenberg's Gurrelieder. I think that no other work has made quite the impact on me both musically and emotionally as it has - possibly because I discovered it as I was moving towards more progressive musical tastes, all the same, it is a work that I keep coming back to.

James W. Iman is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Music, where he studied piano with Judith Radell and James Staples. He frequently performs music of the Second Viennese, Darmstadt, and New York schools. James continues to be an active researcher and writer on the development, aesthetics, and philosophy of 20th and 21st century music. His enthusiasm results in compelling lectures and offers auditors an opportunity to learn about a period of music from a performer actively engaged in the music. James's advocacy of New Music has given him the opportunity to work directly with composers whose works he has performed and he has given several United States and World Premiers.

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Author: Nina Lucas HELLO STAGE
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