Creativity is my livelihood. I have several jobs. I am a professional musician (a classical pianist), a teacher, and an artistic director of a major performing arts center. I am lucky each of these jobs is centered on music and the arts and I am given a tremendous amount of freedom to be as creative as I want to be.
As a pianist, the work centers on studying the composer and the piece in particular, and doing my best to eloquently communicate that to the audience. Most of the time, I select the program content, and creativity is a major part in developing the sensitive interpretation of the piece. Managing my own performance career requires a lot of creativity as well, particularly in fitting in tours or concerts within my “day-job” schedules.
Being a piano professor allows me to come in contact with all levels of piano students, each presenting their own challenges in creatively finding the way to connect with them at their level of musical maturity.
Finally, the artistic director job requires a lot of creativity in different fields. The Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska is a major university presenter, showcasing a diverse season of performing arts genres: Classical, Broadway, Popular, Family programming, Theater, Dance, and World Music. Being mindful of its mission of education requires additional creative work, discovering ways to serve the diverse communities throughout Nebraska and its people. Of course the most creative work is generating enough money to fund all these programs. It’s a delicate balance of ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, private donations, grants, and lots of creative negotiations with agents.
It’s impossible for me to categorize how much of my mind and time is devoted to any one of these jobs. The flow of creativity is a mystery to me—as it is to many who try to explain it—but it’s definitely a thrill when it happens. I am sure I’m addicted to the thrill and can’t imagine making a living any other way.
Dr. Ann Chang is an artist-in-residence (piano) and the director of the music entrepreneurship program at the UNL Glenn Korff School of Music. In additional to being a performing artist, she is also the artistic director of the Lied Center for Performing Arts, a Fulbright Scholar to Belgium, and a TEDx speaker (Lincoln Nebraska, 2013). In 2001, Dr. Chang founded the award-winning Meadowlark Music Festival, serving as both executive and artistic director until the conclusion of the 2006 season. Dr. Chang lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her daughters Sarah and Hannah, and son Peter.