Evelyn Bates, Pianist & composer

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career?

I grew up in a family of classical musicians and I’ve been going to classical concerts and singing jazz in my free time since I was 6 years old. I had quite a lot of different influences, from Ella Fitzgerald to Beethoven. I think my favourite composers were always Rachmaninov, Chopin and Brahms. Rachmaninov drew me when I visited the place where he lived, it was incredible!

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

Sexism. I’ve studied classical piano for 20 years of my life and it was always a constant fight for your “place under the sun”. Constantly proving that you’re playing not worse than men and that you deserve to have the same opportunities was simply exhausting and depressing.

Also marketing! These days it feels like you also have to put a lot of time in presenting your works and not just writing them.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

I wrote music for 2 short films and it was very enjoyable! I had freedom to implement my ideas, but also it was nice to let go and let the picture decide what’s the best for the film.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Growing up with classical music I’ve always felt that music should be very complicated for listening in order to be ‘’great’’. With my first EP I’ve tried to avoid complex ideas. I wanted to go back to my influences and roots, but simplify the language that I’m using in order to be understood by the audience. That’s also why my EP is called “I Want You To Know” (me). In this period of my life I’m more drawn to simple harmonies, raw, clear and intimate melodies. I also love programme music and I’ve put a lot of thought in every note from this point of view.

How do you work?

I always start from playing around and improvising. Having some vague visual ideas before I start playing helps to “connect the dots” in my head.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

For me success is to write good quality music that people can relate to. To be able to express yourself and to be a professional.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/composers?

To not be afraid to try something new, to not listen to people’s advice. To do what you feel is right without questioning things too much.

I’ve spent a long time listening to people telling me that I couldn’t sing jazz or pop music, write or be an actress, while being a classical pianist. We, as humans love limiting ourselves and others. It’s a basic instinct to protects our lives, it feels good to stay in your comfort zone.

But if you’re not moving, you cannot develop further and the next step is degradation.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

As a classically-trained pianist I always struggled to get my non-musician friends to come to my concerts, as they would always feel bored. I don’t think it was the boredom though, I think it was the lack of music education that would allow them to perceive and appreciate the music as they could have. It’s just not easy to understand everything and to relate to classical music. I think there could more lectures and workshops that would explain composers’ ideas and would help to break that wall between the performer and the audience.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness for me is being with my family.

What is your most treasured possession?

A reproduction of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Sunny days and taking my dog for a walk in the morning

Evelyn Bates – YouTube

Evelyn started playing piano and singing at an early age and was accepted at a classical music school at the age of 6. She continued her studies and later started her degree at the renowned Gnesin Academy of Music, Russia. Later she became the winner of the XIII International Festival «Musica Classica» (III Prize) and Musical Art International Competition.

At the same time she was studying vocals and performing jazz.

After her graduation she was awarded scholarships for participating in piano master classes : the “British Isles Music Festival” (where she had lessons with Andrew Ball – Professor of Royal Academy of Music in London) and also “The river of Talents” in Saint Petersburg. In 2015 she was awarded a full scholarship to participate in the Tel Hai International Piano Master Classes (Israel) with Dmitry Bashkirov, Tatiana Zelikman and others.

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