Pianist Ingrid Emanuelsson has made a name for herself in Scandinavian circles in New York City. But, after ten years, it’s time to go home to Sweden.
“I think the timing’s great,” says Ingrid when we meet at the Swedish Church. “I feel good about leaving and I’m excited about what may open up for me at home.”
Ingrid came to New York in 2001 to study at Columbia University Teachers College, where she earned her Masters in music education. Afterward she went on to study piano performance at Hunter College. Her choice of studies says something about who she is.
“I love both teaching and performing, but if I had to choose one I’d probably choose teaching. I love the combination of music and children, especially early childhood.”
Ingrid recently had a farewell concert for all her friends and acquaintances.
“I didn’t want to just disappear, you know? So many people leave the city and you never get the chance to say good-bye.”
But the concert was also for her own benefit. Ingrid explains:
“I have to make a point of leaving, so that I realize that New York is a finished chapter.”
She has spent her summers in Sweden, so the transfer shouldn’t be too traumatic, but she has yet to find something to do.
“Ideally I’d want to teach and also I’d like to work with singers, but we’ll see. I’ll keep my eyes open.”
Ingrid has taught at the Queens Conservatory of Music and the Turtle Bay Music School. She has also held several concerts, and played at weddings, church services and Lucia celebrations.
“I feel that I never really chose music,” she says. “I was 5 when I started playing the violin, which I continued doing till I was 16. Music has always been a major part of my life. My mother was a preschool teacher, and she also had music groups and she’d bring me along from an early age. Music is what and who I am.”
Ingrid prefers classical music—anything from Mozart to Stravinsky—and also listens to jazz, especially Brazilian jazz.
“But when I teach, I sometimes include pop music, especially for students in their teens. You have to keep their interest up during those years.”
I ask what makes a good teacher, and Ingrid has what certainly must be the right answer:
“I’m a music teacher, but I also have a hidden agenda and that is to teach human values. You have to prove you can be a good friend, and that you can be both a leader and a follower. You have to ask yourself, ‘How can I be of help?’ That’s important.”
Ingrid says that learning about the Art of Living Foundation, a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization that has a stress-free and violence-free society as a vision, has helped her a lot.
“It’s like night and day! People ask me how I can be so happy all the time. But they teach you techniques so that you can flow through life without breaking down. They teach you how to be grateful. That’s why I can sit here now, knowing that I’m leaving New York next Wednesday, without collapsing!”
Her furniture has been sold, her clothes and books are packed and the grand piano she bought a few years ago is in a crate ready to be shipped.
I asked Ingrid what she liked most about her years in the Big Apple.
“Meeting all these people! New York is really the capital of the world; you can find everything here. The cultural exchange is enormous. New York Philharmonic playing at the Great Lawn in Central Park—I loved that. And also, biking home late at night after some event … on Madison Avenue and seeing all the lights in the windows. It gave me such a sensation of being here and now. All this I will miss.”
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