How I Spent My Summer: Anton Nel

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The University of Texas campus was quiet over the summer, while students and faculty spent their time working on projects around the globe. The College of Fine Arts was no exception. Students and faculty from all three departments took advantage of the break from coursework to pursue research, teach seminars or test the waters of a future career. Here is a glimpse into what happens when classes end, and the fun begins.

Butler School of Music’s Anton Nel, Professor of Piano and Chamber Music, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano and Head of the Division of Keyboard, served on the Artist-Faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado.Anton Nel performs at the Aspen Music Festival.

Tell me a little about your participation in the Aspen Music Festival.

I am on the Artist-Faculty, which means that I teach a class of students here every summer as well as participate in many concerts! I first came to Aspen as a guest artist in 1988 and joined the faculty in 1997. It is one of the highlights of my year!

Can you describe one of the highlights of your time there?

The undoubted highlight this year was my appearance as the piano soloist on the opening concert. The Aspen Chamber Symphony was conducted by Nicholas McGegan, and I performed the Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major by Beethoven. I am very touched by the large number of Austinites who came out especially for this event, including Dean Doug Dempster, Butler School of Music Director Mary Ellen Poole and my piano colleague Professor Martha Hilley, to name a few. The orchestra was simply fantastic, and an enormous crowd came out to hear the concert. The weather was also amazing—all-in-all a perfect day.

Is there anything specific about this music festival that stands out to you from others?

Aspen is both a music school and a festival. This year 650 students from 44 countries attended and worked together with a star-studded cast of faculty and guest artists. Faculty and students often make music together side by side. There are many concerts and master classes every day, in beautiful venues, and in a picture-perfect setting. You can’t beat that!

Is there anything from working in Aspen that you will bring back to UT for the new school year?

Being with so many colleagues and students that all speak the same “language” is food for my soul. I’m inspired by all the great music I hear and great musicians I have the good fortune to collaborate with. For me it always a time to learn as well, and I’m keen to come back and share new insights with my students at UT.

While visiting Aspen, did you get to enjoy any down time or have some fun?

Oh yes! I’ve been going to Aspen for so many years that I know a lot of local people so there is a goodly amount of visiting and great eating going on! There is so much natural beauty to enjoy, so I try to hike a lot, take the gondola up to the top of the mountain, and also drive around and look at the neighboring towns. Colorado is breathtakingly beautiful in the summertime.

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