By VERONICA SANSUR
Many people wonder about the life of professors outside classes. Sometimes, little is known about them and the things that they do for living. Music Department Chair Grigorios Zamparas not only teaches piano, music history, and performance classes, but he also is a recitalist, orchestra soloist and chamber musician.
A native of Greece, Zamparas knew that music was his passion since a young age. He said his interest began with his father, who always played classical music records to him.
“So then you get used to the sound of the symphony orchestra, of the violin, of the piano, the pipe organ and different things,” Zamparas said. “Then you have all these influencers; you get to know the composers. Then it came naturally that I wanted to take classes to play the piano.”
Zamparas was never alone in his journey. With nostalgia, he remembers his mentor back in Greece, a man who, according to Zamparas, taught him everything he knows.
“His name was George Manessis. He was amazing and passed away two years ago. I was with him so many years,” Zamparas said. “He was my inspiration, and let me play with professional musicians from other parts of the world.”
Zamparas has traveled to nearly every continent to play his music. From Brazil to Bulgaria, he has been presented as a soloist in more than 20 different piano concertos. He has also attended numerous festivals including his favorite, the Newport Music Festival.
Zamparas says that Newport in Rhode Island has always been special and that it is intense, lasting two weeks and requiring many performances.
“I’ve done this for more than 10 years every summer,” Zamparas said. “Every year there is something new to play and the audience is always enthusiastic.”
This year, his big concerts will take place in two weeks in Sarasota. In May, he will have several in South Korea and around Europe. Zamparas also mentioned the place when it all started, which he goes every year no matter what.
“Of course, in Greece, is always special too,” Zamparas said. “I always play the Porto Heli festival where my teacher use to play; he actually found this festival. Now his former students continue doing it. It is an amazing experience every time.”
To the professor, a good musician requires a good teacher, and most of all “practice, practice and more practice,” he said.
For Zamparas, music cannot be minimized in just one meaning.
“It’s a way out of this crazy world, it’s a shelter, a great thing that makes you always find things about yourself. You get more mature,” Zamparas said. “Music is amazing, it makes you alive, it makes you always want to learn more and it keeps you going on.”
Talia Shuman, junior in psychology and music, said that although she hasn’t taken classes with Zamparas, he is an amazing professional that always transmits his passion for music.
“In the mornings, when GZ [Zamparas] walks in his office, instead of drinking a cup of coffee to energize himself, he would play the fastest piano piece he can,” Shuman said. “It doesn’t matter what his energy level is. It is incredible.”
To Zamparas, there is something specific that makes him play music until the end. To him, teaching is his greatest inspiration that motivates him every day.
“My students make me want to practice and play more,” Zamparas said. “So, I could learn different things like a new piece of music which is always exciting, something you haven’t played before — you discover something new. A repertory is endless.”
A piece of advice from Zamparas for those who are starting their stories as musicians, is that in music, people can succeed in different things even if they are not performing. He said that they could be onstage, be a good teacher, a producer or run a festival — the secret is to keep going until the end and always do it with love.
“Music is a very important part of education. It makes people better, it is good for the intellect and for the heart,” Zapamparas said. “It makes you smarter and sensitive, it makes you love someone. It is quite sure that in this crazy world we need more music.”
Veronica Sansur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.