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Yannick Rafalimanana

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French pianist Yannick Rafalimanana has developed an international concert career, performing recitals and chamber music concerts regularly throughout Europe, the United States, South America, Africa and Middle East. Winning the first prize in the 2012 Tufts/New England Conservatory Soloist Competition, he made his US debut in Symphony Hall in Boston, playing Schumann Concerto with the Boston Pops Orchestra under the baton of Keith Lockhart.

He recently performed at the Berlin Philarmonie, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Kennedy Center in Washington, live on the radio in Boston on WGBH, in Jordan Hall with the Borromeo String Quartet, in Boston with violists Kim Kashkashian and Thomas Riebl, in Poland with violinists Andreas Reiner and Arnold Steinhardt or in Shelter Island (NY) sharing the stage with Itzhak Perlman. He also made his Brazil recital debut performing at the Mube Museum and his Israel debut performing at the Jerusalem Music Center.

As a soloist, he has performed regularly with the Orchestre CNR de Lille, Orchestre Impromptu, and the Ensemble Parisien. He has recently founded and conducted the LFO - a chamber orchestra based in Boston, involving NEC students, with whom he has also played as a soloist.

Mr. Rafalimanana has participated in numerous summer festivals; among them are the Perlman Music Program, the Greatlakes Chamber Music Festival, the Brussels Chamber Music Festival, the Krzyzowa Music Festival. He has collaborated with some of most well known musicians, such as Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein, Joseph Kalichstein, Kim Kashkashian, Gary Hoffman, Paul Katz, Roger Tapping,  Marie-elisabeth Hecker.

Born in Lille, France, Mr. Rafalimanana began his musical studies at the Conservatory of Lille under the tutelage of Alain Raes. He later graduated with first prizes in both Piano Performance, and Chamber Music and Collaborative Piano Performance, from the 'Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris'. Mr. Rafalimanana graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Graduate Diploma in Piano Performance and a  Master of Music in Chamber Music under Vivian Weilerstein. Since 2015, Mr. Rafalimanana is teaching Chamber Music at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen, Germany.

What projects are you working on now? I have been enjoying some great collaborations in Berlin since i moved 2 years ago. The most recent one was with my friend Matthew McDonald, principal double bass of the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra. We got to record the Franck Sonata at the Berlin Philarmonie. I will be returning to this amazing hall in September with him and the other soloists of the Orchestra to perform the Trout Quintet. This piece has a very special place in my heart because i got to perform it twice at NEC during my studies: once with the Borromeo quartet and Lizzie Burns in Jordan Hall and once in my Master of Chamber Music graduation recital with my friends. 

Aside from the conventional venues, my passion goes for this project that we started in Boston 4 years ago, Groupmuse. I have been working on bringing it to Berlin with the help of my friend and NEC alum Tony Rymer. That was my number one priority when i moved here. Groupmuse is a network that connects musicians and host to self-organize some chamber music house-parties in people ´s living room. It was a big part of my NEC performing life. 

Although based in Berlin, i am trying to come back to the US as much as i can to catch up and perform with my friends. My next travel is this coming next month and include two great projects. The first one is a Massivmuse (the Groupmuse for bigger venues) in New York where i will be performing the masterpiece by Messiaen "Quartet for the End of Time." I had the chance to work on that piece during my NEC years with John Heiss in this contemporary ensemble and i am happy to work on it again and present it in a Groupmuse. The second one is a chamber music series in New York and Connecticut ran by my dear friend Molly Carr called "Project: Music heals us." What i find special about this series is that we perform the same program in two different settings. First in a more conventional ticketed concert setting like churches, then some "Healing Concerts" in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters and prisons.

My last project is related to teaching. Since 2015, i got the amazing opportunity to teach Chamber Music at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen, Germany. Teaching chamber music has always been my dream job, and this school as well as NEC gives a lot of importance to Chamber Music.

What does a typical day look like? My days are always different, but i can talk about a typical week - Aside from practicing for my upcoming concerts, i always make sure i have time to go to concerts (I´m seeing Berlin Phil concert almost every week when i am in Berlin). The music life is so rich and inspiring. I also leave some free time to meet with my friends to read music or just hang out. I organize a lot of Groupmuses at home with food, drinks, friends and music. Another priority is to make sure i can play football (soccer) at least once or twice a week. Football is my second passion after music and is very much part of my well-being. 

Favorite NEC memory? My time at NEC was real life-changing experience, it is very difficult to isolate one moment. Above everything, i would say that the people i met at NEC and in Boston in general shaped the person and the musician i am now. The passion and dedication of the faculty members as well as the family-like atmosphere were very special at NEC. I can recall among other things the sonata class with Vivian Weilerstein, the very helpful english class with Mrs Kambouris, the coachings with John Heiss, Roger Tapping and Kim Kashkashian, the masterclass with Russel Sherman, the eye and ear-opening class of Warren Senders, the CPP program with Tanya Maggi. Beside those wonderful moments at school, my favourite memory during my NEC time was the house chamber music parties that we created with our group  of friends. Our host was Cristian Budu, our master of ceremony Tommy Boynton and i would be the house pianist. It was a very special atmosphere with very inspiring friends around such as Henrique Einsenmann, jazz pianist or our dear friends dancers from the Boston Conservatory. Those evening would be the main inspiration for Groupmuse developed soon after by Sam Bodkin.

What are some words of advice you’d like to share with current NEC students? It is very easy as a student to not realize all the possibilities a school has to offer. My main advice would be to be curious and open. Meet people, read music with them, play for each other, play for other teachers. Don ´t be afraid to be active, to do your own projects at school and outside school, those are very rewarding initiative. NEC has two fantastic departments to help you : the Entrepreneurial Musicianship and the CPP program. As a pianist, i would advise all my colleagues enrolled as piano major to take advantage of the world class string department at NEC. Learn repertoire with them, play for their teachers, play chamber music. You will not regret it and learn much more than you think. It will prepare you also for the real life as a pianist outside school!