Neher: Tomasz Robak And The Art Of Interpretation

Pianist Tomasz Robak will perform at several local events April 11, 12 and 13. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos Arts Council Executive Director

Do you like puzzles? When it comes to making sense of a bunch of dots and lines or characters on a page, there is nothing quite like the fun and affirmation we receive when interpreting printed music or words – a sort of puzzle. We do it almost without thinking, every day. When you read an article in the newspaper (this one, even!) you bring your whole life’s history to bear in making meaning of the sentences. You will take away meanings that another person may not. That is interpreting what you read.


What of the great performers, such as Hillary Hahn, violinist, or Yo Yo Ma, cellist? How can they play concert upon concert, and still receive accolades with every performance? Why does it sound “fresh” each time? The musician’s skill of interpreting the sheet music’s dots and lines, written down by composers in a very limited language, is what allows the music to come alive. Without great interpreters and their dedication to practicing techniques that support the presentation of their interpretations, we simply would not have the wealth of fabulous performances of great music compositions, all telling the grand stories of our cultures.


Both recorded and live performances have a lot to offer a listener, but only at live performances can a person experience the sometimes puzzling (yes!) variety of interpretations. Performing artists make interpreting sheet music a life-long passion. Tomasz Robak, pianist, is one of these up-and-coming, highly skilled artists whose performances you don’t want to miss! In three public performances, you will hear how skilled Robak is at music interpretation and communication. The great works of Brahms, Mozart, Schumann, Liszt and Prokoffiev will all be presented by this young and energetic performer. Becoming more and more skilled at communicating his interpretations, Robak will delight and impress you with his ability to express subtle variety in each different presentation.


This is the skill that performing artists perfect – not the ability to play everything “exactly right” (for, there is no right or wrong in interpretation) – but the skill at presenting music differently, with different emotions each time the same composition is played. If you hear him play Brahms one afternoon, and the next night the Brahms piece again, you might expect it to “sound the same.” But if you truly listen, you will notice a plethora of subtle nuances of phrasing. Just like you can say any English phrase with many different inflections, thereby affecting its meaning, in presenting live music musicians strive for inflecting each performance differently – to keep him/herself passionate about the compositions, and providing sustenance for an engaged audience.


As an audience member of any classical music concert, avoid “spacing out” and only letting the music entertain you. Performing artists encourage you to find the puzzles – of texture, variety of nuance, phrasing, inflection, and, yes, interpretation. You’ll be thrilled to recognize the puzzles, and you’ll be amazed by the infusion of new energy your interpretation receives!


Please come to all three performances of this emerging artist during Tomasz Robak Week, which includes a Los Alamos Arts Council’s Brown Bag Show at noon Wednesday, April 11, at Fuller Lodge. The Los Alamos Arts Council will also host an evening concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Fuller Lodge. A donation of $15, $10 or $5 is suggested. Finally, Robak will be featured in the Los Alamos Community Winds’ concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Crossroads Bible Church. The suggested donation is $10.

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