For Aleksandra “Sasha” Kasman, playing classical piano is in her blood. It's been passed down through her mother and her father - Yakov Kasman, who is an accomplished performer and professor of piano. The legend in her family is that when she was two or three she could sing through a Shostakovich concerto from beginning to end because she had heard her father practice it so often.
The Moscow-born, Alabama-raised pianist studied under her father at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has performed around the US as well as in Europe, Russia, Ukraine and Southeast Asia. She will continue her studies in graduate school at Julliard this year.
In 2014, Kasman won a scholarship through PianoArts, a Milwaukee-based national organization that runs competitions for up and coming pianists. Because of her passion for music outreach and education, she was invited to come back as a PianoArts Fellow.
She performs with a vibrant, emotive style. "On stage, you're really aiming to convey something to your audience," Kasman explains, "and so, body movement is just something that naturally accompanies it...for me it's just natural to be in the music one hundred percent."
At 21 years old, she has also learned that musical and personal growth come simultaneously. "Nadia Boulanger famously said, 'You can not be any more or less of a musician than you are a person.' So in other words, who you are as a person is going to influence your art," she says.
"By that logic, you need to be as educated as you can possibly be," Kasman surmises. "I think the answer is to learn as much as you can, listen to as much music, look at as much art, read as many books as you possibly can to make yourself a more well-rounded, more informed person."
Her performance on Sunday May 7 at 3PM at the Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church will include a recital of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, a sonata by Nikolai Myaskovsky, Beethoven's Opus 101 and an étude by Franz Liszt.