I came to London in 2001 to study with Benjamin Kaplan and remained here since.
I was born in Kosovo to parents from Kosovo and Macedonia when these were still part of Yugoslavia. I lived in Kosovo but spent at least one month each year in beautiful Struga in Macadonia and always felt a strong connection to the country of the beautiful lake Ohrid.
I don’t quite remember how it all started, but I know I wanted to play the piano very early in my life and I still remember the first time I played one when we visited my father’s cousin in Macedonia. He taught me the C major scale that day and I remember getting frustrated that even after a day’s practice I still couldn’t play a single piece!
I went to music school right after and I am not sure I knew what being a pianist meant, all I wanted to do was play the piano and Turkish march.
My first piano teacher was Letafete Ballata and I still remember how strong her influence was in the build of my confidence.
Afterwards I studied with Lejla Pula who remained my teacher all the way through University. Lejla was someone everybody looked up to and was so great to have her as such a major part of my life.
Coming to London
In 2000 I went to Israel at the Tel-Hai masterclasses where my teacher was Benjamin Kaplan from London. After the first lesson I knew I wanted to study with him and in 2001 I packed my bags and moved to London. I studied with Ben for four years. During those four years I saw him every day; I used to practice on his Steinway B, walk his dog Barney, have dinner with him and his family and had lessons twice a week. In the first lesson he gave me the first book of Debussy preludes and said to practice them for the next lesson. I asked ‘Which ones?’ and he said ‘The whole book’. Ben was by far the greatest influence in my life. I used to call him Professor (coming from an ex communist regime, that was the only way you would address your teacher) and I think he secretly loved it, but told me off one day and he became Ben. Being around Ben every day was a great experience for me. He became so much more than just a teacher, he was a friend (although one you should always listen to), taught me about gardening, about Arsenal and even which books I should read; or shouldn’t.
During this time with Ben, I took an external exam at the Guidhall School of Music and Drama.
Royal College of Music
After a while I decided I would like to get further with my education and completed Masters Degree at the Royal College of Music where I studied with Vanessa Latarche. I loved my time at the college and especially enjoyed the late night practice at the RCM. Vanessa is such a great musician and I explored a vast repertoire with her, mainly 20th century and I am always grateful to her for introducing me to Barber.
In the UK I have had over 200 concerts and have been lucky to perform in many other countries across the world. I have performed in festivals such as Chelsea Schubert Festival, Mozart Piano Sonata Festival, Transcendent Festival in London, the Ohrid Summer Festival in Macedonia, Music Festival of Nations by the Cultural Association Tempietto, in Rome, Italy, Remusica festival in Kosovo etc.
I was chosen to perform at the Pianists of the World Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, followed by the opening recital of the Bosendorfer Piano Series and a highly acclaimed performance at Blackheath Halls. In the US I have performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. which was broadcast live over the Internet.
I regularly perform in Kosovo and Macedonia and was particularly proud after performing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in Skopje with Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra to perform it in Struga also, which was the first performance of the Macedonian Phil ever in Struga. The mayor of Struga organized a reception after the concert.
Notable performances in 2013 have been concerts in Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead, Fairfield Halls as well as a recital in Italy, in Brezzo di Bedero, organised by Cultural Association Casa Paolo. Also, in October I have completed my first marathon, TCS Amsterdam Marathon in 3:54.
I am now looking forward to more concerts, new projects and more marathons.