Lucy Faridany

IMG_0500 2By Scott MacClelland

PIANIST LUCY FARIDANY is much sought-after by singers and solo instrumentalists who have come to recognize her sensitivity as a performance partner. “Lucy is one of my very favorite pianists and I love singing with her,” declares well-known baritone Peter Tuff. “It is such a pleasure to collaborate with her because she does exactly that: collaborates–embracing the give and take of a musical partnership.”

Tuff was speaking about a recital they did together three years ago at Del Mesa Carmel, a retirement community with an active schedule of visiting musical events. On that occasion, they performed Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel, a set of Schubert songs and some Schumann. “With her knowledge of the [German] language I know she’s singing the text with me through her playing.” And he adds, “She can play anything you throw at her.” For her part, Faridany calls that occasion, “a highlight of my entire musical life,” and hopes for a chance to join Tuff in Schumann’s Dichterliebe song cycle.

Even though she was born in England, Faridany has deep roots in Carmel. Her grandmother, Nancy Lofton Morrow, sister-in-law of aviator/author Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was a Carmel Valley resident for decades before her death in 2009. Lucy’s late mother, Nana Faridany, attended Carmel High School and was a longtime administrator of the Carmel Bach Festival. Music and performing arts were a big part of the family. Lucy’s older sister, Francesca, is a well-known stage, film and television actor.

Lucy will play piano with the Monterey Symphony this weekend in Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony. Last season, she played in the Symphony’s staged production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. She glows with enthusiasm when talking about her collaborations with other musicians. Another “highlight” has been as rehearsal accompanist for Andrew Megill’s Bach Festival Chorale.

Lucy’s parents met while students at UC Berkeley. Her father was an English book publisher from a Persian lineage. The marriage failed in the 1980s and Nana returned to Carmel. Lucy lived with her father in Sussex but commuted to Carmel during summers, “starting when I was 11,” she says. At that time, the Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska was a popular performer with the Bach Festival. “My mum asked Janina to hear me play. She was so inspiring, I wanted to be her.” She participated in the Summer Music Camp at Stevenson School which took place at the same time as the Bach Festival. “Janina would hear me every summer.”

Lucy started piano lessons at age seven. “My first teacher was Christine Pembridge. She was really brilliant. And terrifying.” At age 18 she entered the Royal Northern College of Music. Then she hit a wall. The divorce of her parents, followed by her father’s serious injury in a riding accident caused her to withdraw into depression and self-doubt. “I didn’t touch the piano for 13 years.”

In 2004 she came to the Monterey Peninsula permanently, married Rob Chelotti in 2007 and, five years ago, bore a daughter, who is now studying violin. Her musical world began to open up and has steadily grown. Her views about making music have come into sharp focus. “For me, the musical goal is always the same. The good thing about accompanying or partnering is it has to be alive and vibrant. You have to react with what the other person is doing. It has to have immediacy or it gets boring. Making it spontaneous in the moment is where the magic happens.”

Each new encounter with another collaborator means a different personality and a different dynamic. “Even when someone is aggressive you definitely still have a contribution to make. You can have a lot of influence on what’s going on. It’s an energetic thing,” she says. “You can make it easy for them or not.”

In March 2014 she joined Pauline Troia at piano in a challenging Camerata Singers program and speaks of her keyboard colleague in the highest terms. “I can continue to learn from her.” She recently participated in a concert by Ensemble Monterey, playing in “a fun piece” by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. She calls David Dally, concertmaster of Ensemble Monterey, “fantastic.” That group’s last concert included a piano quintet by Stephen Tosh, who is “a total genius. I would love to play that piece.”

She has a class of 30 students and teaches piano at Santa Catalina School in Monterey, the position formerly held by Katie Clare Mazzeo, of whom she also sings high praise. She plays regularly for Monterey’s Unitarian Universalist Church. She’s also vigorously networking to open up more opportunities. “I’m playing more on my own now,” she says, eying solo concerts. “I lost my music for many years, but I’m loving it now. It’s the best place ever.”