A 13-year-old pianist prepares for a second solo recital | News, Sports, Jobs
In many ways, Benjamin “Benjie” Goertzen is your typical teenager. Goertzen is in eighth grade at Maranatha Christian School in Watsontown. His favorite subject is science and he loves to read. He currently reads The Yearling and keeps up to date by reading The Economist with his father, Peter Goertzen.
There is also something about 13-year-old Goertzen that sets him apart from his peers. He is an accomplished pianist, playing music rarely seen before college level.
Goertzen became interested in the family piano at the age of one, and when he was four his parents signed him up for lessons. Nine years later, he is about to give his second solo recital.
Goertzen has been under the management of John Ravert Sr. for five years. During this period he performed in several recitals and competitions, including the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association, the Steinway Junior Piano Competition and the Dorothy Sutton Performance Festival, and won several awards. He has been judged three times in the National Guild of Piano Teacher Auditions.
Goertzen has what is called “perfect location”, the ability to recreate a given musical note without a reference pitch. Goertzen helps out in Ravert’s shop on Fridays rebuilding Nickelodeons and they sometimes test Goertzen’s perfect pitch.
“We go to work and if I play something, then he, on another piano, will play it again and it’s very interesting.” Ravert said.
Ravert notes that it is rare for someone so young to be so accomplished.
“Benjie has the ability to learn music very quickly but he’s very methodical about it. He studies it line by line, page by page and absorbs it and he gets it. Ravert said.
Over the years, Ravert had to help Goertzen learn not to train too much. Ravert notes that he often has the opposite problem with children.
Goertzen says he loves music because he can make it expressive. He plays with a coolness and concentration beyond his years, and he does so from memory without a score. Ravert asks his students to memorize at least one 10-piece program each year.
Goertzen will perform around 15 pieces in his upcoming solo recital, something from every period of music, including works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Scott and Gershwin. He said he sometimes gets nervous at first, but once he starts playing he is fine.
“It’s fun to play hard stuff and be able to do it well,” Goertzen said.
Ravert points out that Goertzen doesn’t even realize he’s playing above his level unless he’s told.
“For him, it’s natural” Ravert said.
Goertzen’s mother, Rachel, never pushed her son to take up the piano, but she is very grateful for the piano and the music. She also appreciates Ravert.
“I am very grateful that we have such a good piano teacher,” she says.
The recital will take place at Trinity United Church of Christ, 602 Main St., Watsontown on Sunday at 3 p.m. with a reception to follow. RSVP to [email protected]