“If I weren’t a pianist, I would have trained to be a swimmer,” says pianist Lindsay Garritson. “Until I was 11 or so, my dream was to be in the Olympics! I’ve always loved sports. But I had to decide, and piano won out.”
That wasn’t the only hard choice about her music Garritson has made: she began by playing the violin as a toddler, taking up piano at the ripe old age of four. As a teen violinist, she was concertmaster for the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. But eventually, she decided to make piano her career—though she always will be a violinist too. What’s more, she’s sure her violin skills enhance what she can do on the piano.
“One of the things that makes a pianist really great is the sound they get out of the instrument,” she says. “And I feel my violin training translates into the way I approach the piano—I try to get a special singing sound.” Being a violinist also helps her as a pianist in chamber music settings, she adds. “I can understand the technical aspects of what the string players are dealing with, and it helps me react expressively and technically.”
Garritson has an Artist Diploma in Piano Performance from the Yale School of Music, where she won the coveted Woolsey Concerto Competition in 2011—the same year she took second prize at the Montreal International Music Competition. And she is the youngest of four children in a very musical family (both her parents were professionals as she grew up) who enjoy playing together.
“I love performing with my family!” she says. “I’ve been doing it forever, first as a violinist, and most recently with my sisters—in a piano trio, or collaborating with one of my sisters who is a cellist. It’s an indescribable feeling to make and share music with the family—so special.”
Favorite composers for the piano “right now,” she says, are Mozart and Schumann. “Mozart has an amazing ability to create so many contrasting characters in his work. This stems from his operatic writing, and one can definitely hear it in his writing for piano. I adore Schumann because of the intense passion in his music; he goes from moments of sublimity and tenderness to almost a mad frenzy of emotion. As a performer, this is especially fun to bring out.”
Garritson is coming with quite a cheering section: mother, father, a sister and various other family members. “My brother’s wife is originally from Texas,” she says, “So if they can make it, she especially wants to come and cheer!”
Finding enough time to practice during the busy whirl of a competition can be challenging, but Garritson says she’s competed often, and “always found a way to keep my quiet time and focus.” She’d like to sample some Texas pleasures: rodeo, barbecue, Tex-Mex—but also liked the idea of shopping while she’s in town.
“If I get tired of practicing, I could do some damage in that capacity,” she laughs. She admits to having an “obscene” number of performing dresses, but she’s always happy to look for more. What does she try to find? “Something elegant, that will stand out, but that’s also comfortable to perform in. And I try sometimes to match [my dress] to the mood of the music I’m playing—that’s one of the most fun parts of performing!”
◊ Here is video of Lindsay Garritson playing Schumann at the Concours Géza Anda in Zurich, Switzerland in 2012:
Lindsay Garritson's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Repertoire
Preliminary Recital, Phase I
LISZT Ballade No. 2 in B Minor
SCHUBERT Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946, No. 2 in E-flat Major
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major, op. 83
Preliminary Recital, Phase II
MOZART Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333
LISZT Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este
CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, op. 52
LISZT Transcendental Etude No. 8: Wilde Jagd
SCHUMANN Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, op. 14 "Concert sans orchestra"
RAVEL Ondine (from Gaspard de la nuit)
BRAHMS Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, op. 15
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 16
◊ To see a slideshow of all of the competitors, with bios and links to our profiles of them, click here.