Pianist Anastasia Markina was YTA’s Grand Prize winner in 2007 and our Silver Medalist in Piano in 2005. She received an Honorable Mention in Piano from YTA in 2004. Markina, who was YTA’s Guest of Honor during our 2023 Finalists’ Concert & Awards on March 11, recently shared an update on her career with us.
It’s been nearly 16 years since you won YTA’s Grand Prize in Piano. How would you say your experiences with YTA have impacted you and your music career? Every competition I participated in has impacted my music career in some way. Every competition required diligent preparation, lots of hours in front of the piano, and infinite hours of thinking and internalizing the music one is learning. Whether or not one comes out a winner, one still gains immeasurable experience from hearing others and from meeting people. One of the now angels I was lucky to stay with and keep in touch with was (YTA President/CEO) Susie Pokorski’s mother — Anne Moore. I have the most wonderful memories of her and her infinite generosity and kindness.
What have you been up to since then? For the last 16 years, I have been lucky to perform with fantastic musicians. Being a part of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a staff pianist, I am fortunate to play beautiful chamber music works with my colleagues at the DSO as well as faculty from University of North Texas (UNT), my alma mater. Almost five years ago I also got a job as a director of traditional worship at the First United Methodist Church in Coppell, Texas, so now I also get to lead the adult choir and children’s choir, and I even picked up the ukulele. I also maintain a small piano studio at home.
What have been some of the more memorable moments of your music career so far? Why were they meaningful to you? It’s difficult to name just one or two. I was fortunate to perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the UNT Concert Orchestra. It was very special since I played it on a 15/16 keyboard, which is a smaller-sized keyboard installed inside of a regular Steinway concert grand piano. UNT owns the keyboard, making it possible for pianists with small hands such as me to perform the repertoire. So my dream of playing that concerto came true.
Another memorable thing has nothing to do with piano, but rather with my newly acquired video-editing skill. When I lost my partner, an incredible cellist and musician, to cancer, I made a video of musicians performing one of his cello ensemble arrangements, Khachaturian’s Waltz from “Masquerade.” It included over 60 cellists, most of whom were his students and colleagues. We played it at his memorial. I thought it was a beautiful tribute to everything he has done. And, of course, all the successful milestones of my students mean a lot to me.
What are your goals from here? My goal will always remain the same — whatever I do, whatever I play — my goal is to leave people better than they were. With every performance, whether I am playing or (now) conducting, I wish that music will heal the listener’s heart. It is also my wish for my students to leave their lessons knowing that they too, can change the world through their actions, be it by performing music or anything else.
Please tell us what you enjoy doing for fun or to relax. Do you have any hobbies? A couple of years ago, I suddenly found myself painting in oil and acrylics. I also enjoy crafts, cooking, and revisiting old TV shows.
Please tell us about your musical tastes. Have they changed over the years? How? Every event, be it musical, or life, adds to the overall experience. Of course, some of my musical tastes have evolved. But one thing remains the same — I have always loved the true and sincere performance that touches my heart, that makes me think, that turns something inside me, that wakes me up (figuratively speaking, of course).
What advice would you offer young artists who are just starting their music careers? Don’t procrastinate with your practicing.
Listen to great musicians, live or recorded. Listen and learn why they made those choices (tempo, dynamics, articulation, etc.).
Study music without the instrument. Learn about the person who wrote the music.
It’s not about winning the prize — it’s about being a better musician than you were yesterday. It’s about coming off stage knowing that you have done it all. Not everything is in your control.
Be kind, always. Be reliable. Care about your reputation, not just as a musician, but as a human being.
Get outside and walk when the weather permits. You learn a lot by observing.
Take up some kind of dance or painting — everything helps as you “dance” and “paint” the music.
Don’t post everything on social media. One day your future conductor or boss might read it.