Heart and mind

Photographs: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student portrait Carter Muller

“I feel like a kid in a candy store”: Carter Muller discovers something fascinating in every classical piece. Curiosity is the driving force for the Dutch-American pianist.

LEA INGBER
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Lea Ingber: You’re doing a Master’s in Specialized Music Performance to become a solist. What does your daily routine look like?
Carter Muller: Every day looks different. I enjoy this freedom, because I’m a curious person and it allows me to broaden my horizons. Of course, I practice the piano every day and have regular lessons with my main teacher, Till Fellner. Additionally, I have courses which help prepare me for life as a professional musician; things like building a website or expanding one’s social media presence.

You’ve performed a lot. What was a highlight?
My Bachelor’s project last June was really important to me. It combined Robert Schumann’s “Kreisleriana“ with a piece that I composed myself. I collaborated with Dominic Rüegg, a visual artist at ZHdK, who created visuals to match my piece. It was an immersive experience. I enjoy experimenting and trying out new things like this.

How would you describe your style?
It may sound paradoxical, but I approach music very cerebrally and instinctively at the same time. I find it important to include both sides. While playing the piano, I never feel the same way twice, not even when playing the same piece. That’s the beauty of it: you can really feel everything. Overall, I feel a sense of satisfaction and joy while making music.

The majority of young people aren’t interested in classical music. Is that a cliché or is it true?
Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think classical music will lose its importance. A lot of concert venues are committed to reaching a younger audience. Once people overcome their initial scepticism, they may realize how connected classical music is to music they’re already listening to. It’s much more accessible that it seems at first. You discover something new and interesting in every piece and composer.

What are your plans after graduation?
For the time being, I want to keep studying and learning from other pianists. Now, I’m being asked to do performances by people who know how I play, and I’m really proud of that. I hope it continues like this and that I can build lasting connections with other musicians.

What was your best decision so far?
Deciding to come to Zurich at the age of 17, to do my Bachelor’s. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about music as well as about myself. And I’ve met some amazing people on the way. It’s been a great experience.

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