Name: Juna Gjata
Current City: Boston, MA
Year won: 2014
1. What led you to apply to the VSA International Young Soloists (IYS) Competition?
I applied to the VSA International Young Soloists Competition because of the opportunities it offers. Not only do you get to perform on one of the best stages in the world, but the other musicians you meet, and connections you make over the weekend are priceless.
2. What is one of your proudest accomplishments (personal or professional) since winning the competition?
One of my proudest accomplishments since the competition was composing a full string quartet and getting to hear it performed by a Grammy-winning chamber ensemble. There is nothing like hearing a piece of music that you have been working hard on manifest itself. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in my whole entire life.
My biggest take away from the competition was the incredible amount that I learned about sound across instrument groups. Getting to experience different instruments and see different musicians in the master class really taught me about how much we can learn from each other. Often we think of different instrument groups as speaking different languages, when in fact we all use sound to create music. This was a huge epiphany for me.
4. Tell us something exciting you’ve been doing lately (performance, project, travels, job, etc.).
I’ve started to compose regularly now, first as part of a class and now for my own enjoyment and growth as a musician. Although I most enjoy composing piano pieces—and find it to be the most idiomatic for me—learning to compose for other instruments has helped me to grow tremendously as a pianist.