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Beyond the Stage

In last week’s blog,we explored the artistic beginnings of 2020 Gheens Artist Clayton Stephenson. Now, we're taking a look back at Clayton’s Gheens Residency, which allowed him to travel across our community and share his gifts with others. 

Clayton’s residency week began last month with a performance and interview with Daniel Gilliam, broadcast live from the WUOL 90.5 Performance Studio. You can experience his pianistic mastery and artistic imagination in this performance.

Over the next two days, Clayton visited and performed for 275 students at the three Arts Magnet schools in Jefferson County Public Schools: Lincoln Elementary Performing Arts School, Western Middle School for the Arts, and Youth Performing Arts School.  Already an experienced outreach performer, Clayton quickly adapted to the different groups: music students at Western middle, a large group of students in grades 3-5 at Lincoln, and a performance/masterclass with piano majors at Youth Performing Arts high school. After a performance from Clayton, students also had the opportunity to ask questions and get advice on pursuing their own passions. For Dr. Matilda Ertz, the head of the piano program at YPAS, an experience like this is invaluable to her students: 

"Any time that we have a masterclass, students are inspired and changed, and their eyes are opened to new ways of thinking about and performing the music we study. Clayton Stephenson’s visit was no exception, and truly, the best part of the experience for students and all of us in the room was hearing and seeing him perform such a lovely variety of pieces—and his intellectual engagement with the music. Students were equally impressed with his techniques and abilities but also with his personality and demeanor."

YPAs Clayton


Many students found Clayton's visit to be inspirational:

"It was jaw dropping. It is always fun to see where I could be one day with enough practice and effort. It inspires me to practice more and put my all into piano!"


Before returning to his studies at Harvard University (Economics) and New England Conservatory (Piano Performance), Clayton spent a day at the Louisville Academy of Music on Frankfort Avenue. He performed in a chamber music soirée that also featured many talented young artists from our community. It culminated with a rousing performance of Stars & Stripes Forever arranged for two pianos, eight hands. Clayton performed it with two young pianists, Emily Steinbach and Ani Hutchens (both alumni of KPA’s Governor’s School for the Arts), and with concert pianist and KPA's Senior Director of ArtsRise Jeffrey Jamner.

Later that evening, Clayton shared his artistry in a different way by coaching four talented young pianists in a Masterclass at the Louisville Academy of Music. Those students got a sneak peek of Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1, which Clayton will perform with the Louisville Orchestra on February 5 for the Gheens Great Expectations Concert in Whitney Hall. This one-hour concert will take place in Whitney Hall at 6:30 PM and is free, no tickets required.

We hope to see you on then so you can experience this exciting young artist on the rise.  One day you’ll be able to say, “I heard him when…”

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