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Swampscott teen to perform in Carnegie Hall

By Cyrus Moulton
The Daily Item / January 14, 2012
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SWAMPSCOTT, Mass.—She is 16 years old and performing this month in Carnegie Hall. But Kristen Foaksman said she isn't too nervous, after all, she performed in the hallowed venue last year too.

"It's my second time going so it's pretty exciting," Foaksman said. "You don't really have time to get nervous there."

Foaksman recently won first place in the Crescendo International Music Competition with her performance of Rachmaninoff's Prelude Op. 23 no. 7 in C Minor.

Her prize as it was when she won the same competition last year is to perform the piece at a recital in Carnegie Hall with fellow winners on Jan. 15.

But while the Swampscott High School junior recognizes the luster of the hall and the opportunity to play the same 9-foot piano that many famous pianists have used, Foaksman said she viewed the experience as "a major social fest."

It makes sense, as Foaksman said, music and performance has always been a major part of her life.

Her father, Alex Foaksman, is a principal solo pianist for the Boston Ballet Company. Her mother Tatyana Foaksman is a principal pianist for the Boston Ballet School. Kristen Foaksman said the ballet company was "a second home" for her, and she fondly remembered dancing in the company's production of "The Nutcracker" four times.

Her parents also run Foaksman Piano School from their home. In fact, four of their other students are also playing in Carnegie Hall, Alex Foaksman proudly reported. So teaching Kristen to play was not a surprising decision.

"We came from Russia," Alex Foaksman added. "In Russia, if you're a musician, your kids should be musicians too. In this country, you have to give her something to do."

So Kristen Foaksman said she "believed" she started playing piano at age four but was not so sure she remembered much of her first lesson.

At age 9, she won her first competition. She said she practices at least an hour a day. The family home has three pianos and a keyboard so she said she doesn't have to fight for access to the keys and favors music that is either very fast or "grand sounding" music that is slow and full of chords.

She performs several times throughout the year, and still takes lessons from her father. She now does a single competition a year which, she said, she enjoys because it gives her a goal to achieve.

Not that piano is the only thing in her life. She admits she is competitive, and noted she was undefeated for two-years in the Middle School's spelling bee. She said she also enjoys swimming for the high school and playing clarinet in the band.

But she said that whatever she does in the future she would always consider music an integral part of her life.

"I'm thinking of keeping piano as a hobby when I'm in college and when I have a job," Kristen Foaksman said.

"If you've really felt (music) once, it's a good way to express your emotions."

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