As so many of you who followed the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas already know, our great alumnus, Kenny Broberg, won the Silver Medal. Many in the Classical Music world consider the Cliburn to be the most important competition on the planet. Kenny is suddenly (what seems suddenly) thrust into the light as one of the greatest pianists of his generation on earth. Kenny won $25,000, a recording contract, professional management for the next three years, a multitude of concerts all across America and Europe, and many other career support efforts on his behalf.
It all feels like a dream. It seems like only yesterday that a mom and dad brought their young son, of the age of nine, to play for me. It was so obvious to me that young Kenny Broberg possessed immense musical gifts. It was so apparent to me that this voice was unique and had to be developed with the greatest love, care, and understanding. It was the kind of voice that would not, could not, and must not be denied expression. I understood and accepted with great respect and awe the great honor that was thrust upon me: the honor of caring for this young boy and his magnificent gifts. Kenny had a sweetness and openness about him as a young boy that is just as apparent today as a young man. This sweetness and openness, this soulfulness, lies at the core of his artistry. It is the psychological pathway that has enabled him to plum the soulful depths of a composition and deliver it to a listener with overpowering, often shattering, emotion.
There are endless pitfalls to the development of a young pianist. It is a marathon where one must travel through a fire swamp, across a great desert, and up the highest mountain. The life of a pianist is ultimately a very lonely one. It requires so many hours alone at the keyboard. It requires such stamina of mind, heart, soul, and body. One must face much rejection and disappointment in the relentless pursuit of one's art. One may get hooked up with the wrong teacher at the wrong time and it can ruin a career and a life. And all of this is carried out in the context of a distracted, materialistic, largely ignorant and non-supportive American Culture. There are so many people running after instant gratification; so many with their noses in their cell phones.
Kenny has had more than his share of challenges of every kind. He has risen above them all. He did this by being what every great artist must be: a true servant of the music. He places his own ego, his own self, at the service of his art. Kenny fulfills what our beloved teacher and mentor, Martin Marks, always preached to Jo Anne and me, ". . . If you desire to serve yourself and others, serve your music first."
I know that Kenny is quite uncomfortable with all of the sudden press and public attention. But I have no doubt that he will keep his wits about him and not be distracted. He lives for one thing and one thing only: to be the best pianist he can possibly be. Kenny brings the light of understanding and love to his audiences. They will crave to hear what he has to say over and over. Thus, a career has not only begun, but will develop with endless possibilities. Kenny's life, and ours, will be changed forever.
Yours in Music -
Joseph & Jo Anne