Teen pianist to open concert series

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013

COURTLAND—Although hailed as a child prodigy at age 8, Umi Garrett sounds matter-of-fact about her talent on the piano. To her, practice is what really makes for perfection, and therefore the invitations to perform coast to coast and across the seas.

Umi Garrett, 13, will perform on the piano at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in Southampton High School auditorium.

Umi Garrett, 13, will perform on the piano at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in Southampton High School auditorium.

In 2009, for example, Garrett performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” She’s gone on to play in competitions and recitals in Japan, Germany and Australia, to name a few.

“I don’t think my practice has increased so much over the years. It’s a little longer by an hour or so since I was 8 or 9 years old,” said Garrett, 13. “I practice a minimum of two hours, and a maximum of six hours, done in two-hour blocks.”

The California-based pianist will demonstrate her noted ability when she opens the season of the Franklin-Southampton Concert Association. The performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, in the auditorium of Southampton High School.

Composers in her repertoire include Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Mozart and Schumann.

“I’m learning Rachmaninoff,” added Garrett during the phone interview.

Whether she’s competing or performing, the player knows where she is and what’s happening.

“It’s not like I don’t see the audience. I’m aware of them,” Garrett said. “But my concentration is on the piano.”

An only child, she’s also the only musical person in the family. There might have been someone on her father’s side who was proficient in the art, but that was reportedly in the late 1800s.

Garrett recalls her interest in music began around nine years ago.

“I asked my mom if I could start piano when I was 4, mainly because all my other friends were starting. I kept it up more than all the other kids. I think I liked it a lot more,” she said. “I got more serious around 6 or 7 years old.”

For about four or five years, the violin was also part of her musical studies. Although that instrument has given way to the piano, she’ll still pick it up sometimes for fun.

Speaking of which, Garrett also enjoys improvising some on the piano with friends, but added that composing is not really an interest.

Nonetheless, the music’s always with her.

“My parents always tease me about humming or whistling, and making rhythms,” she said. “There’s always some kind of thing going on in my head.”

To balance performing and traveling, Garrett has been home schooled since last year, she said.

“It’s an online school,” the eighth-grader explained. “My parents don’t have to teach. I just practice and do schoolwork a couple of hours. I think I do pretty well in everything. Math is my favorite subject.”

She’s already recorded an album, which was published at age 9, and she is now thinking about a new one. Garrett is considering including the well known “Moonlight” sonata by Beethoven, the sonata in A major by Mozart, and a ballade, nocturne and scherzo by Chopin.

For whomever she plays, Garrett aims to please.

“I want the audience to like my playing. I would like them to think of a memory while listening and enjoying coming to the concert. And when they leave, that they’ll be glad they came.”

Season subscriptions cost $50 per adult and $10 per student. Special giver options range from the donor level of $70 to benefactor at $1,000 or more.

Call Nancy Rowe at 653-2498 or Bill Vick at 653-2892 for more information.