Prominent pianist Jeff Cohen offers notes to Jacobs School of Music students in masterclass

Shin-Yeong Noh and Nikolay Verevkin

Jeff Cohen works with pianist Nikolay Verevkin and soprano Shin-Yeong Noh at a masterclass.

On Tuesday evening, six sopranos and six pianists gathered in Ford-Crawford Hall, all elegantly dressed and attentively waiting for their chances to take the stage.

The students from the Jacobs School of Music were performing for Jeff Cohen, the pianist and vocal coach who will collaborate with another soprano, Angela Gheorghiu, in concert tonight at Indiana University Auditorium.

Jeff Cohen Project Jumpstart

Jeff Cohen also met with students over lunch.

“The woman I’m going to play with tomorrow is a big opera star,” Cohen said. He then explained why it is rare to see a high-profile operatic singer in a concert setting. Without the lavish costumes, scenery and the rest of the company, “it’s a different world,” he said. “It’s very exposing.”

Cohen is a professor at the Conservatoire Nationale in Paris. As a collaborative pianist he has worked with a long list of notable singers, including June Anderson and Ute Lemper.

Earlier in the day, Cohen met with a group of students from the Jacobs School’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development as part of Project Jumpstart.

The student-centered and student-driven entrepreneurial leadership program is designed to help Indiana University’s music students translate their world-class training and skills into real-world success.

In the intimate IU concert hall, Cohen’s full attention was trained on the parade of performers, 20 minutes at a time.


Anna Buck was first to sing.

“I’m nervous,” he admitted. “Tomorrow I don’t have to open my mouth.”

Soprano Anna Buck and pianist Brian Eads were the first pair to step onto the stage. They were followed by Bridget Goodwin and Joni Chan; Elizabeth Cohen and Corey Silberstein; Tabitha Burchett and Riley McKinch; Brooklyn Snow and Thomas Morris; and Shin-Yeong Noh and Nikolay Verevkin.

Cohen freely offered pointers to each pair of students. Many of his detailed comments were about fine-tuning the tempo, French pronunciation and musical dynamics.

At times, he shared history and deeper meanings behind the musical compositions. He also shared advice and wisdom with performers and the fellow music students in attendance:

  • “It’s not easy to be simple.”
  • “Listen to the sound in the room as you make it.”
  • “The hard thing about practicing is that the initial surprise goes away.”

Cohen was generous in his praise for the well-prepared performers, too:

  • “I thank you all for singing by heart.”
  • “I liked your attitude on stage… such clear presentation”
  • “You’re all wonderful; Your French is very good.”

And graciously, the accomplished pianist closed his masterclass with these parting words: “Good luck to you all and thank you very much.”

About the concert

Angela Gheorghiu

Angela Gheorghiu

Romanian-born international opera star Angela Gheorghiu will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 23 in the IU Auditorium, with pianist Jeff Cohen. Tickets are available online, in person and by phone through the IU Auditorium box office. Seats are $52 and $62, or $31 and $41 for students with ID.

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