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A series of conversations with the Cliburn competitors
Born: Jerseyville, Ill.
Lives: Stuart, Fla., and New Haven, Conn.
The piano is only half the story: Garritson is also an accomplished violinist. "I can never remember a time when I wasn't playing the violin. I started before piano [which she began at age 4]," Garritson says. "Therefore, in a way, it's always felt like an extension of myself. With violin, it has such a singing, soulful quality that I'm drawn to."
On choosing between the violin and piano: "Honestly, I could never pick which one I like better because I can't live without either. They both complete a part of my self-expression, but in very different ways," she says. "Yes, I have decided to focus on piano as a career, but I will never stop playing violin."
It's in her genes: Garritson grew up in a home full of musicians. "I come from a very musical family: Both my father and mother are professional musicians, and I am the youngest of four. My two older sisters are also professional musicians (pianist and cellist), and so it's been amazing to be able to look up to them over the years," she says. "I'm very lucky in the sense that I've had a level of support for what I do because my family is so musical."
Favorite composers: "There are simply too many I love!" she says. "But I adore Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, Schumann, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff. The list could go on."
Best concert memory: "This is also difficult to choose! But one that is very special to me is when I played the Brahms D minor [piano concerto] for the first time with orchestra about a year and a half ago," she says. "It was memorable not only because I love that piece so much, but because I played it with the Yale Philharmonia as winner of my school's concerto competition. Therefore, I was playing with a stage full of all my friends and colleagues, and that in itself is an incredible feeling."
The toughest thing about being a talented musician: "The endless work and discipline! If one is not self-disciplined and ready to make a lot of sacrifices, forget a solo career," she says. "But I love the drive and energy this profession demands. In the end, it's worth it."
Hobbies and spare-time pursuits: They include dancing, swimming, reading, traveling and watching movies.
Favorite nonclassical musicians: "I love Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill. I'm crazy about jazz and big band as well," she says. "I love Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra."
On why she is looking forward to returning to Fort Worth (where she had her successful audition for the Cliburn): "The hospitality is always so amazing! People in Texas know how to treat people well."
-- Punch Shaw, Special to the Star-Telegram