Farber Hall is flooded with the melodious sounds of Schubert and Bach, performed by some of USD’s most worldly students every Monday night.
Five international graduate students are following their dreams of becoming professional pianists with the help of the masters’ piano program and Dr. Alessandra Feris. These students are learning how to better themselves as musicians in a completely different country. Here’s a little bit about them:
Born in the south of Brazil, Pedro Medeiros started out on the keyboard at age 10 and soon explored the gift of classical music.
“I decided to start my undergraduate in piano performance and decided that this is what I wanted to do,” Medeiros said.
After meeting Feris through a master class, Medeiros chose to study with Feris at USD.
“[Feris] is a wonderful teacher and I really wanted to learn from her,” Medeiros said.
He decided to face the challenge of living in a brand new place and honing his talents head-on.
“I really like the community at USD and the people make the town a great place,” Medeiros said.
Medeiros is already starting to look for doctorate programs to continue his studies.
Evangelia Nikolaidou is from Volos, Greece and started playing piano at the age of seven. “My family really motivated me to play music and engaged even more with music,” Nikolaidou said.
With her love of the piano, Nikolaidou said she enjoys the challenge that comes with improving her skills. She also said she values her classmates and her future colleagues.
“As international students, we are creating connections and bonds already as we prepare for the future as performers,” Nikolaidou said.
After completing her master’s program, Nikolaidou is looking towards doctorate studies and performing contemporary music.
Rafeal Lima de Paula
While most of his life has been spent in Brazil, Rafael Lima de Paula finds comfort in USD’s piano performance program. Lima de Paula said he started playing piano a little late, when he was about 13-years-old.
“Classical music was a way to connect with my grandmother and that’s when I really started to learn more,” Lima de Paula said.
His hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil has a population of 1.5million people, so Vermillion brings the small-town aspect to life for Lima de Paula.
“I really like how safe Vermillion feels,” Lima de Paula said.
In the future, Lima de Paula hopes to move into a Doctorate program for piano performance but is enjoying his work at USD currently.
Sooyeon Kang was born in Illinois and soon after moved to Korea to live with her family. Kang has been playing piano since she was eight years old and knew from the start that she was going to be a performer.
“I had my own recital at the University of Illinois when I was in eighth grade and discovered that I wanted to perform everywhere,” Kang said.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and soon met Feris.
“My professor from Iowa was actually Dr. Feris’s professor as well and she recommended that I study my masters at USD,” Kang said.
Kang said she enjoys the comfort and community she has found in Vermillion. She also said her biggest goal is to become a professor and teach other people about piano performance.
Yasmin Fainstein grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was born with music in her blood. Her mother was a ballet teacher, and Fainstein learned to love classical music and decided to make a career out of it.
“I started piano as a nine year old and it was never meant to be my career, but I soon discovered that I wanted to make a career in performance,” Fainstein said.
She also said Feris turned out to be a great influence on Fainstein’s artistic ability and was flattered when she was asked to study at USD.
“I love the campus, but I also love how my green space there is,” Fainstein said.
Fainstein said she hopes to continue studying and performing her talents in as many places as possible.
As international students, the future pianists work through USD’s international office and bond over their new found home in Vermillion.
Feris is an international professor and concert pianist herself as she is from Brazil.
“None of these students are here by chance. They all found their place her and I am very fortunate to have a wonderful group of students,” Feris said.