Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Tamar Sanikidze to perform at Carnegie Hall in April

Allie Castaneda
Tamar Sanikidze, director of the Butler Opera Center and division head of Voice and Opera, rehearses an aria with her student in her office on Thursday.

The same walls that have set the international standard for musical excellence since 1891 will soon house the blend of a soprano’s voice and notes played by a pianist said to have a magical touch by her students. 

Tamar Sanikidze, head of the voice division at the Butler School of Music, and director, producer and principal coach of the Butler Opera Center, will accompany soprano vocalist Rachel Willis-Sørensen on piano for their April 9 Carnegie Hall performance. The one-night showcase includes the world premiere of “Amaranthine” by S. Andrew Lloyd, composer and concert organist and the Bess Hieronymus Endowed Fellow and assistant professor of organ and composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio. 

“It’s different,” Sanikidze said. “When I was there the first time (in 2000), I was very young. … I’ve played there a few times since (and) there is something to be said about (the) audience. I’ve played all over the world, … but (there is) something about a New York audience that is very special.”

Lloyd compared performing in Carnegie Hall to playing basketball in Madison Square Garden or baseball in the New York Yankee Stadium. 

“You can feel the history,” Lloyd said. “You’re standing on a stage where the top artists of all time stood, breathed the same air and played in the same room. Their music bounced off the same walls. … It’s an absolute honor.”

The process of bringing this performance to life began with Lloyd winning the opportunity to have Willis-Sørensen premier pieces he composed at Carnegie Hall. 

“I won the lottery, so to speak,” Lloyd said. “Over the next year and a half, I wrote the pieces, and now (Willis-Sørensen) learns them.”

Due to their history of working together, Willis-Sørensen invited Sanikidze to accompany her. Between their two schedules so far, rehearsals consist of sending voice recordings and a meeting in Paris in December. They plan on getting together in Los Angeles and then in New York right before the performance. 

“From my perspective, my job is to create an environment for (a collaborator) to sound their very best,” Sanikidze said. “The more you know someone, the better (you) can be.”

Sanikidze and Lloyd are part of the musical community in Texas, and their experiences here continue to shape them as musicians.

“On our 40 acres, magic happens, … so once in a while, I have to pinch myself … because (my colleagues are) superstars and walking amongst these luminaries is humbling and, more than anything, inspiring,” Sanikidze said. “Texas is a huge state, but the musical community is so tight that no matter how big Texas is, the musical community stays very local.”

On campus, Sanikidze helps teach the next generation of musicians and performers. She teaches students not only music but also how much they need their community and how they can count on each other. 

“I learn so much from working with (Sanikidze) every time,” said Kara Covey, a first-year doctoral student in opera performance. “She brings such a unique perspective to every coaching (session), and she has a lot to offer from a musical, textual and artistic background.” 

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