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Teen pianist to perform at Carnegie Hall

Holly Viers • Nov 18, 2019 at 9:15 AM

KINGSPORT — Sixteen-year-old Ben Tedder will make his first trip to the Big Apple this month, but it won’t be for an ordinary vacation.

Tedder, a student at Carol Stone Piano Studio in Kingsport, will be performing as a soloist at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s most esteemed concert venues. He was invited to perform after placing second in his category in this year’s Brooklyn Music Teachers’ Guild Intercontinental Piano Competition.

“A local student can go to Carnegie Hall from this area, the Tri-Cities area, which is really huge. … You never know, in other words, how high a child could go with their talents,” said Carol Stone, Ben’s instructor. “You have to think, ‘The sky’s the limit.’ ”

Honing his talent

Tedder began playing piano 11 years ago, though he’s been training with Stone for the last five. An 11th grade homeschool student, Tedder started out as a self-taught pianist.

“He liked a song from a cartoon and he taught himself how to play that, which was pretty advanced,” said Ben’s mother, Michelle. “So we thought, ‘We need to direct this,’ and we got him into lessons.”

Stone said Tedder’s natural abilities set him apart from many other pianists his age.

“He’s naturally talented,” Stone said. “His hands are very relaxed; he gets a beautiful sound, just naturally. … I feel that it (piano) is going to be a big part of his life.”

Competition

Tedder earned second place in the Advanced A Piano Solo category of the competition. In the first round, Tedder submitted a video of himself playing “Heiden Sonata III” by Bernhard Heiden.

He advanced to the second round, in which he played “Ghost Story” by Alexander Peskanov. He will perform that piece again at Carnegie Hall during the winners’ concert on Nov. 24.

“I’m nervous about the performance,” Tedder said, adding that he will spend much of his training time this month rehearsing his concert piece.

“He’s played it in various recitals and different places,” Stone said. “So I think he’s ready, but it’s just a matter of going in and just feeling it.”

What’s next?

Tedder and his family will head to New York the Thursday before his performance. After the concert, Tedder plans to continue training with Stone and is thinking about becoming a piano major at East Tennessee State University.

“It’s something that he’s done on his own,” said Ben’s father, Erik. “There’s nothing that Mom and Dad have done for him; it’s his own talent, and Carol’s done very well with him.”

For more information about Carol Stone Piano Studio, call (423) 967-9466.

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