Whether Donning Coats of Bright Red or Fur, Concert Pianist Basks in Spotlight

David E. Stein

Berenika D. Zakrzweski '04-'05

Berenika D. Zakrzewski ’04-’05 has a flare for performance.

She has been traveling the world as a concert pianist since she was nine, performing with the best symphonies in the world and wracking up accolades as a rising piano star.

But Robin Potts ’04 says the proof is in Zakrzewski’s hair.

Zakrzewski naturally has pin-straight brown hair, but when she’s performing in a concert—or simply planning to make an appearance at a party—she’ll whip her thin hair into big curls.

“She’ll transform into a performer when she needs to be one,” Potts says.

Whether walking through the Yard in her signature eye-catching coats or playing piano with world-class symphonies in cities across the globe, Zakrzewski naturally gravitates toward the spotlight.

Zakrzewski describes feeling as though she is “on a different planet for a little while” when she performs in front of hundreds of people and says that vibe is one of the things that keeps drawing her back to the piano.

“Performances are these life experiences where you affect so many people at one time,” she says. “It’s different from all other art forms. That moment is what I live for.”

Zakrzewski was practically born a performer. She started playing piano when she was three and performed with a professional symphony for the first time when she was nine.

She says playing piano has never really been a choice for her—she started because everyone in her family played and cannot even remember when she decided she wanted to be a concert pianist.

“I don’t remember the exact moment. It was always a part of me,” Zakrzewski says. “It’s been my plan since forever. Nothing’s changed except hopefully I’m a better musician.”

Perhaps Zakrzewski’s goals haven’t changed since she touched her first ivories at three, but piano has certainly changed her life.

Since that first concert, Zakrzewski has played with symphonies like the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Center Orchestra and the Sinfonia Varsovia in places all over—the U.S., South America, Europe, Mexico and Japan.

She took a semester off to focus on piano and travel in Europe, has put out her own CD and toured eight countries and 16 cities in South America last year with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

This summer, she will perform at the music festival at Tanglewood as well as traveling to other events, like the Aspen Music Festival.

When Zakrzewski thinks back to that first performance with the Sault Symphony Orchestra in Canada, she remembers the innate pull she felt towards playing piano in front of a crowd.