Nevada County People: Local piano prodigy ‘thrives on performances’ |

Nevada County People: Local piano prodigy ‘thrives on performances’

Keaton Hild was born to be a pianist. Even as a baby, he’d move his fingers as if he were playing the piano.

Starting music lessons at age 5, Hild, now 13, played Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C Major last fall as a piano soloist with the Sierra College orchestra.

Hild already has performed in several recitals. He’s been a finalist at the Music in the Mountains youth competition in Nevada City for the past five years. He also has been a finalist twice at the Auburn Symphony youth competition in Auburn.

In addition, Hild was awarded the local Stern Scholarship last year to pursue his studies in music. Two years ago, he won the Jean Dunning Scholarship for overall best performance at Music in the Mountains.

Hild has been supported by various local musicians due to his talent. He takes conducting lessons with Paul Perry of Music in the Mountains and has taken piano lessons from Richard Cionco, a professor at California State University in Sacramento.

Joan Tumilty, a local pianist and teacher, has also been his instructor for seven years.

“Keaton is extremely talented,” Tumilty said. “He’s very focused. He wants to do music for a career.

“For his age, he’s very, very musically sensitive. He’s a natural performer. He thrives on performances. But he’s not self-conscious. He’s not conceited at all,” Tumilty said.

Hild performed last summer at the Schlern Music Festival in northern Italy, with encouragement from his mentor, Cionco.

“The experience of playing with teachers and students from around the world greatly increased my passion for music and contributed to my decision to become a musician or conductor as a profession,” Hild said in a write-up submitted to The Union.

A seventh-grader at Yuba River Charter School in Nevada City, Hild wakes up every morning at 4:45 and practices before going to school, he said.

“When I am not playing piano, I enjoy playing violin and recorder, playing basketball, learning Japanese and backpacking, bicycling and canoeing with my family,” Hild said.


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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