Forte: Sought-after accompanist chose the right path

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Anne Schilperoort, Yakima Symphony Orchestra principal keyboard.

Editor’s note: With each new year comes the beginning of the music competition season for students. In Central Washington, the regional Solo & Ensemble contest is in February; the state level version is in April. Hundreds of students prepare for these and similar competitions.

Fourteen-year-old Anne Crose was at a crossroads. Accomplished in violin and piano, she was being asked to perform solo violin more and more.

As a solo violinist, she needed a piano accompanist, someone who could play the specialized part designed to provide rhythmic and harmonic support to a solo. She knew about accompaniment, having accompanied hymns at church since age 9.But her search for a good accompanist was challenging: Sometimes the accompanist would play incorrect notes and sometimes the notes were correct but the tempo was incorrect.

When the accompanist was not very good, she found herself thinking more about the piano part and adjusting her violin playing to the piano. She tried playing and recording the piano part herself and then playing her violin along to the recording. The electronic recording sound did not mesh well with the live violin and, again, she ended up accompanying the recording.

Anne could see the need for a good accompanist and, because she had been both soloist and accompanist, she understood the need from both perspectives. She decided she had better become an accompanist. At a time when no one formally taught accompanying, her best path forward was to become a piano teacher who also was an accompanist.

She taught piano during high school, developing a studio of 30 students by age 17. After graduating from Eisenhower High School, obtaining a bachelor of music in piano performance from the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a master of music in piano accompanying from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, she returned to Victoria to establish a program in accompanying.

While there, her sight-reading skill led to a seven-year, on-call relationship with Search for the Stars as a classical accompanist. From Victoria she moved to Toronto to work as a freelance accompanist, specializing in German music, and was for six years surrounded by great orchestras and musicians, honing her accompanying skills through work with soloists, choirs, ballet, opera and churches. She was in high demand with stellar sight-reading skills, technical ability and her personal understanding of soloists’ needs.

In 1987, Anne married Monte Schilperoort, moved to Yakima and started a family. She resumed accompaniment, developed a piano studio and became the Yakima Symphony Orchestra’s principal keyboardist in the mid-1990s. She is a sought-after accompanist for both professional and student musicians. She may accompany up to 20 Solo & Ensemble students annually on all instruments including voice, and often the majority of the students in the annual Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition.

In these moments with student musicians, her 14-year-old self smiles, knowing she is able to bring to each soloist exactly what is needed in the accompaniment. It was a road well taken.

Learn more about the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at www.ysomusic.org.

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