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Coffee Break Interview: Stefan Cassomenos

Name - Nick name (if you have one?) : I have had several nicknames, but thankfully none of them have stuck.

Place of Birth: Melbourne.

Education... BMus, University of Melbourne; Australian National Academy of Music.

Most memorable performance... There have been a few memorable performances… usually they have been a number of concerts where I have felt directly connected to the music and to the audience. It's a rare and wonderful feeling, and for me it can happen in a solo recital, or in chamber music, or in a performance with a vocalist, or in a concerto with orchestra. It is the truly the height of one's emotional experience as a musician, and it's what keeps us doing what we do.

Who do I listen to…  I have many favourite composers. I love the symphonies of Mahler, Brahms and Beethoven, the solo piano music of Rachmaninoff, the choral music of Bach and Faure, and virtually everything by Prokofiev, Adams, Ligeti and Schubert.

Who has inspired my musical career, and why?.. Nobody in particular, I was drawn to a musical career because I love music. I do greatly admire a couple of pianists though – I love the work of Pollini and Richter, and more recently Garrick Ohlsson and Marc-André Hamelin.

My most terrifying onstage moment... I thankfully have not had any embarrassing onstage moments. I have had some terrifying experiences… piano competitions are almost always terrifying, because of the nerves one feels. I also remember once agreeing to be the official accompanist of the Melbourne International Brass Festival, and receiving a pile of very difficult piano parts, mostly from 20th century composers, and having virtually no time to prepare them. That was a bit scary.

Sunday afternoons are normally spent... Usually performing or practicing… occasionally might go out for lunch!

If I wasn't a musician, I would be … This is a difficult question. I started a law degree at university, which I found unbearably boring. If I hadn’t pursued music, I probably would have changed to an arts degree, as I’ve always been interested in history and philosophy… so I guess I'd probably be an academic. Lucky I’m a musician!

My coffee is... My coffee is skinny latte with one sugar.

My favourite wine/drink of choice is I’d have to say white wine, either Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, and I particularly love wine from the Alsace region (budget permitting, of course.)