Victoria (Vicki) Bragin
Chemist - Pianist
Contact: music at victoriabragin dot com
...performance of a Haydn sonata was ... deft, witty and charming. She was never less than a sure-fingered, tasteful pianist. (Dallas Morning News)
QUOTES FROM REVIEWS OF BRAGIN'S PERFORMANCES:
- ... her poetic, intense account of the third movement [of Chopin's Sonata No. 3 in B Minor] still resonates deeply. The detailed attention she paid to its unfolding structure suggested some overlap between her two fields [music and chemistry].
- The Washington Post
- ... a fabulous performance ... that had everything: technical security, wit, the communication of sheer joy in playing. It was fully professional in every way except that the player makes her living in chemistry not music.
- Dallas Morning News
- Bragin snapped up the prizes for the best Contemporary and Romantic interpretations for the verve of her Bartok Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs and an extraordinarily cohesive Chopin Sonata in B minor - a work some noted pianists don't knit together as convincingly or even play as cleanly as she does.
- The Miami Herald
- Bragin, now Music Artist-in-Residence at the Huntington Museum of Art, spent much of her career as a college chemistry professor, but she is a complete artist of the piano. She and Sandra Armstrong Groce, the group's violist, gave an arresting performance of Rebecca Clarke's Sonata for Viola and Piano (1919).
- The Charleston Gazette
- The Schumann [Carnaval] got off to a brisk, confident start and never slackened thereafter. Its wealth of controlled capriciousness and melting sensibility were most impressive.
- The Palo Alto TImes
- Ms. Bragin's preliminary-round performance of a Haydn sonata was one of the most memorable of the competition: deft, witty and charming. She was never less than a sure-fingered, tasteful pianist.
- The Dallas Morning News
- Her extraordinary polish, note-perfect performance, and overall elegance won her a tie for first prize as well as a special award for best performance of a romantic work.
- The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)
- Bragin impressed jurors with her technically impeccable performance of Chopin's Sonata No. 3 in B minor.
- The Houston Chronicle
- Bartok's eight improvisations on Hungarian folk songs are seldom heard in the concert hall. One was grateful to Bragin for programming them, and doubly grateful because she plays them so well.
- The Palo Alto Times
- She gave a full, rounded tone to the tolling of the bells in "At the Monastery" from the Petite Suite, and her light touch with the gushers of notes in the Scherzo in A-Flat made it clear why [Vladimir Horowitz] (sic) often used this piece as an encore. [Works mentioned were by chemist-composer Alexandr Borodin. The Scherzo was often played as an encore by Sergei Rachmaninoff, not by Horowitz.]
- The Washington Post
- Chemist Ms. Bragin, who was outstanding in a Haydn performance earlier, continued her exceptional playing in music of Bartók and Debussy. She's [one] who could challenge the professionals.
- The Dallas Morning News
- The best playing of the semifinals -- and of the entire competition -- came from Victoria Bragin. She opened with Bartok's Improvisations, Op. 20, and played them with such life and color that even confirmed Bartok haters must have enjoyed them. There wasn't a hint of banging; the music danced and sang and breathed. She followed this with the single finest performance of Debussy's "Feux d'artifice" I have ever heard. Most pianists reduce this piece to a vague rumble of rolling fists, or conversely, to a chattery buzz saw of over-articulate notes. Victoria pegged the middle ground precisely, producing a beautiful pianissimo haze of rippling notes. Her color was again spectacular, giving the music an incandescent layered texture. I gave her my only standing ovation of the competition and decided that everyone else was now vying for Second Prize.
Victoria's playing was probably the best that has been heard in the Amateur Cliburn since Joel Holoubek's staggering reading of the Dutilleux Sonata in the 1999 semifinals.
From a 2002 blog by Carl Tait, past blogger for the Cliburn Foundation.
(Note: some interviews had factual errors which the reader would hopefully be able to discern.)
- "I found the entire program very inspiring and am so happy that you were able to capture this amazing performer for an evening at your home. Not only was her playing of the highest quality, her warm personality came through all the while. Her teaching ability was evident in her explanations of each piece. How lucky for all of us. So hereís one more Brava for Victoria! Wow! Thank you ever so much for making this possible."
From an email received by the host of Vicki's concert in Portland, Oregon (Sept 2017).
- "Glorious Chopin! Dynamic Debussy! Your reading of the sonata was a true interpretation that guided the listener through Chopin's masterpiece, without losing the dynamic tension and drive that is so necessary in such a long piece, with such varied subjects. I was amazed to find such excellence, having just popped-in whilst passing. (Pianestival was not my reason for being in Nice and I noticed it only by good luck.)"
From an email received after a performance at the Pianestival 2010
in Nice, France.
- "Ihr Auftritt am heutigen Tag im Kammermusiksaal der Philharmonie zu Berlin hat mich richtig bewegt (und hie und da auch zu Tränen gerührt). Ich war schon dabei, den Zaal zu verlassen, dann haben Sie als letzte der sechs verbliebenen Kandidaten des Wettbeverbs mir das Wesen der Musik zu Ohren gebracht. Danke."
From an email message received after a performance in Berlin.
- An article on amateur pianists and the "fascinating world" of amateur piano competitions appeared in Amanda Holloway, "Best of Show," The Pianist Magazine, February-March 2005, pp. 16-18.
- Joan Stephenson, "Chemists Making Music," Chemistry, Winter 2004, pp. 14-18. Chemists and music may seem an odd duo, indeed. But music has a home in the brains of many chemists and other scientists, including individuals who perform at world-class levels. In this article, the authors explores the link between pursuits that seem a million miles apart. Chemistry is a tabloid published by the American Chemical Society. The issue in pdf format may also be obtained here.
- "Women at the piano". "The life of this cowinner of the 2002 Van Cliburn Amateur Competition is an inspiring story to read."
- "Winner Seeks to be 'Missionary' for Music," The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV, April 16, 2003. Since 1987, The Herald-Dispatch has been recognizing outstanding people of the Tri-State with its annual Citizen Awards, which honor citizenship, volunteer efforts, business innovation, athletics and the arts. The Award for the Arts was created in 2001 and recognizes contributions to the arts or accomplishments in the field of arts in the Tri-State. The first recipient was wildlife artist Chuck Ripper; Bragin was the second.
- "Faculty Members Participate in 'Mostly American' Concert," The Parthenon, April 17, 2003.
- "Free Pianist Concert Draws More than 100 Attendees," The Parthenon, Vol 104, No. 68, February 25, 2003.
- "Cultural Offerings Abundant in Area," Editorial, Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV, 2003 February 22.
- "C&EN [Chemical and Engineering News] Talks with Victoria Bragin: Van Cliburn Award winner and science educator balances excellence in piano and chemistry," Chemical and Engineering News, Volume 80, Number 49 (December 9, 2002).
- "Bravo Vicki!" The Friday Morning Music Club Newsletter, Vol. 37, No. 1. page 1 (October 2002).
- "Professor Picks Up National Award," PCC Courier, 2002 June 27.
- Victoria Bragin Plays Herself Proud," Editorial, Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV, 2002 June 12.
- "Barboursville pianist shares top prize in major competition," Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV, 2002 June 11.