Teah Snively isn’t a household name—at least not yet—but she will be performing at Carnegie Hall this Sunday.
Snively, a junior at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County, was a second-place winner in the 2017 American Protégé International Talent Competition. Her prize is a performance with other winners at the prestigious Manhattan concert venue Sunday evening.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Snively’s piano instructor, Susan Flinn, said. “I knew she was the caliber that could make it.”
Snively will perform Claude Debussy’s “Arabesque No. 1,” a five-minute Romantic piano composition. It’s the piece she submitted in her video audition for the competition, which this year attracted winning entries from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China and Canada, as well as from across the United States.
Snively comes from a family of musicians. Her aunt plays bassoon, her grandfather plays clarinet, her father plays piano, clarinet and guitar and her younger sister sings. Piano was the first instrument Snively was interested in and she started taking lessons at age 5.
“I’ve kind of never stopped loving it,” she said—though she also plays the flute and, just a little, the bassoon.
She said she loves the piano because it lets the musician be expressive.
“On the piano, you can make what an entire orchestra can make with just your two hands,” she said. “Everything you do with the music, it’s all entirely yours.”
Her favorite type of music to play on the piano is that of the Romantic era—from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“It’s a very expressive style of music,” she said. “I’m a very expressive player and so what I really like is that it’s the first style of music that really allows you to be free with it.”
Flinn said she doesn’t encourage all of her students to enter the American Protégé competition because it requires a “really high work ethic.” Snively is her second student to win a place in the competition.
“When I come across a student that can do it, I mention it,” Flinn said. “I knew she could deal with it. There’s a lot of pressure—it really is a big time commitment.”
She said Snively spent six months memorizing the music and preparing her performance of “Arabesque” for the competition.
“She’s a very strong player and she performs well under pressure,” Flinn said of her student. “She’s very expressive and she doesn’t lose that in front of an audience. Nerves don’t get to her.”
Snively said she’s excited and not at all nervous about her New York début.
“They already ranked everybody and did the competition part, so I’m just going to play,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about anything, just have a really good performance and enjoy it while I’m up there. It’s kind of cool to have an experience like that and not be competing at the same time.”