Pianist Nada on Falling for Brahms
By Dylon Jones
In 2013, the musician who goes by Pianist Nada had an epiphany: Brahms. She can’t explain it. “Suddenly I just knew, and I had to learn everything, and everything seemed to me so clear,” she says. “There are really no words.” In October, she released her fourth album in a series on Brahms, Capriccios & Intermezzos, a 25-track exploration of solo piano works by the 19th-century composer. “I’m more than halfway through recording all of (Brahms’) music and becoming the first woman to have achieved that,” she says.
But Brahms had factored in her life long before she began “investigating” his work in the last few years. In the mid-1980s, Nada studied piano at the Paris Conservatory, an institution on par with Julliard. She was two weeks away from a performance of Brahms’ first piano trio when her 40-year-old mother was killed by mortar fire in Nada’s home country, Lebanon, becoming another casualty of the Lebanese Civil War. In 2016, Nada performed that very same trio at the Clifton Center, in memory of her mother.
The pianist lives in the Portland neighborhood, having moved to Louisville years ago for a marriage that didn’t last. In the mid-2000s, she started “Nada’s Classical Hour,” which is broadcasted on Sundays on WCHQ 100.9 FM. This summer, she worked with the composers’ club that musician and educator Jecorey “1200” Arthur facilitated at the Shawnee Boys and Girls Club, bringing their works to life. “I cannot say how much more of that needs to be done,” she says. “And I would love for those kids to feel like they can go anywhere to listen to classical music; it is also their heritage.”
A version of this story appeared in the December 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. To find us on newsstands, click here.
Photos by Terrence Humphrey, terrencehumphreyphoto.com