Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.
Pianist Gavin Laur, who is earning his Bachelor of Music in keyboard performance with a concentration in piano, has performed across the United States, Italy and Russia including Prösels Castle in Völs am Schlern, Italy, and Jaani Kirik in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Laur credits his experiences at Arizona State University for helping him cultivate an appreciation of the depth and nuance of a craft like piano.
“There are always new things to learn, greater challenges to overcome and higher levels of refinement to attain,” Laur said. “In my mind, success is a process. The keys to finding joy and fulfillment within it are love and unyielding commitment.”
Laur recently won first prize at the MTNA Arizona Young Artist Competition, with works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. As a member of the Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble, he has performed works by composers such as Pierre Boulez, Frederic Rzewski, George Crumb and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
He has performed as a soloist at ASU’s Katzin Concert Hall, the ASU Kerr Cultural Center and the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has been featured in masterclasses with artists such as Daniel Shapiro, Chih-Long Hu and Eric Zuber, among others.
Laur regularly collaborates with other student instrumentalists, vocalists and composers within and outside of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. In spring 2018, he participated in the Visiting Quartet Residency Program, receiving coaching from the St. Lawrence String Quartet on the rarely performed Sibelius Piano Quintet. In fall 2019, he was a member of “United Sound,” where he assisted students with disabilities once a week to learn how to play instruments, culminating in a short performance with Tempe Winds and an end-of-semester recital. He is currently the 2019–20 president of “Jury’s Out,” a student-led organization that performs at retirement homes and assisted living facilities around Phoenix.
In addition to his musical accomplishments, Laur received the following ASU and School of Music scholarships: Sidney Rosbach Scholarship (2016–17), School of Music Special Talent Award (2017–18), Jean Tong Memorial Award in Music (2018–19) and the Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award, Sidney Rosbach Scholarship, Jean Wong Memorial Award in Music and School of Music Special Talent Award (2019–20).
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: It is difficult to place a single moment but I believe that through positive experiences and immense support from my community, I was encouraged to commit to music. In particular, my experience in high school at the New Mexico School for the Arts under the guidance of Jacquelyn Helin informed my decision to study music at the college level.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: I chose ASU for two reasons — the warm, welcoming reception on audition weekend and the generous offer from the School of Music after my audition.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: My piano teacher, Dr. Baruch Meir, has taught me innumerable lessons that will last a lifetime. Among other things, he helped teach me how to learn.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to those still in school?
A: I would encourage my fellow students to take care of each other and exchange ideas as often as possible. I owe so much of my growth at ASU to the compassion and generosity of fellow students, from freshmen to eighth-year doctorate students.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I like to study at the different libraries and cafés on campus. I love seeing friends at the School of Music courtyard near the fountain. To decompress, I like to walk around ASU Gammage, visit the ASU Art Museum or find a quiet corner of the music library.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After I graduate, I will take a gap semester before applying to graduate school, hopefully in Germany. In these next several months, I hope to practice a lot, improve my German, read more, exercise more, work part time, volunteer occasionally and spend more time in nature. I also hope to stay connected with friends and teachers at ASU.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: With $40 million dollars, I would help make the arts and arts education more equitable and accessible to disadvantaged communities.