Scarlett and Evan Kaplan perform at piano and strings competition at Carnegie Hall

Scarlett Kaplan

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Patience, patience, patience.

Siblings Scarlett and Evan Kaplan entered the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition by submitting video recordings of their piano solos in January 2020. They were were selected and scheduled to perform at the winner’s concert in Carnegie Hall in April of that year, but the event was postponed due to the pandemic. After close to two years of waiting, they finally took that famous stage on Dec. 4.

“Covid had a huge effect because people either had to keep their piece in concert condition for that long, or record, submit and prepare a new piece,” said Scarlett. She chose to keep the song that she originally prepared in 2020, while Evan opted to learn a new one for the concert in December.

American Protégé is a highly selective competition for serious young musicians from all around the world. Many of the competitors have been learning music from before the age of five, and some perform and compete internationally.

Scarlett, a sophomore at Hackley School, received an honorable mention in the 11 to 14 age group for her performance of Chopin’s Waltz in C Sharp Minor Op. 64 No. 2. This was her second time appearing at Carnegie Hall in the competition, which she previously won in 2014.

Evan Kaplan

“This experience for me was so exhilarating,” she said. “Standing on that stage again was such a special moment especially because I got to share it with my brother.”

Evan, an eighth grader at Pelham Middle School, performed for the first time at the completion with the allegro movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1 and received third place overall.

“My mind was really only occupied by two thoughts,” Evan said. “One was how nervous I was, and the other thought was the echoing of the notes inside my head. I kept scanning the faces of the people around me to see if they were as nervous. Many of them were better dressed than I was, many of them were going over music, something which I hadn’t even considered doing ”

“The only real respite from the nerves was the encouragement of my sister, who throughout the whole experience was very supportive and encouraging,” he said. “As I sat at the piano, I understood that this was not the contest. This was the celebration, the culmination of all my hard work which I had been unable to share throughout the Covid years.”

The Kaplan siblings are taught by Natalia Budyonny and have played piano since they were six. Both play string instruments as well.