Imagine knowing what you were born to do at the tender age of five.
That’s how old Edward Callahan was when he began taking piano lessons. “I instantly knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he shares. The Kalamazoo, Michigan native credits his mother for being his “biggest cheerleader” who always encouraged him to pursue whatever made him happy.
Happiness attracted Edward to New York City where the young musician landed gigs at a variety of venues. One such opportunity was offered by his mentor, who happens to be School of Music adjunct professor, Damien Sneed. Edward was hired to be a keyboardist for Nyack’s 2018 production of “The Wiz.” That’s where he met the School of Music’s dean, Dr. Sue Talley and her husband and music professor, Dr. Dana Talley. Within a few days, he auditioned for admission to the school and was accepted for enrollment along with a significant scholarship.
“Nyack helped me in many ways as a pianist. The very first semester I was chosen to be the pianist for the touring gospel ensemble, Purpose. For two weeks, the group traveled to Italy and performed all over the country. I received my degree in piano performance and graduated magna cum laude and as a member of Alpha Chi.”
Like so many students at Nyack, Edward was able to fulfill a lifetime dream: He made his Lincoln Center debut when the School of Music headlined a concert. Today he celebrates the achievement of another goal—the completion of his first CD, “The Minor Keys,” all works by Chopin and Schubert. Every song is in a minor key.
“The Minor Keys” was a major accomplishment. Edward explains, “I finished 90 per cent of it in four hours in the studio. The engineer was very surprised. I had to come back to record one last movement. Long story short, the files were lost and I had to start from scratch. It was a lot harder to finish the second time, but I finished it in good time. I really wanted to release it before the end of the decade, and I only had the month of December left. I released it on Friday the 13th and it debuted at #1 on the iTunes classical charts. I woke up to tons of messages, radio stations messaging me, and much more. It was like something out of a dream.”
What fueled Edward’s passion for the piano?
“My very first influence was Andre Watts, the first black concert pianist to reach international fame.” (At age 16, Watts was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to make his New York Philharmonic debut in a Young People’s Concert broadcast nationwide.) “Seeing him in a tuxedo and playing the piano so effortlessly, encouraged me and sparked my passion for piano even more. My favorite pianist is Mitsuko Uchida. She has signed many of my Mozart and Schubert books. I’m a piano groupie, just like those who are NBA fans, I follow pianists with that same intensity.”
Humbly grateful for his time at Nyack, Edward Callahan says, “Nyack was and is such a special place. Having the opportunity to pray in class, have teachers apply scripture from everything from music theory to Philosophy, and having classmates who are caring believers, really made my time there well. One scripture that has encouraged me is Luke 18:27, “ What is impossible for man, is possible with God.” The enemy tried to discourage me and say I will never make it in the classical music industry, but with God, I’m already breaking in the industry in a way unheard of. Next up…Carnegie Hall!”