Walnut Hill School for the Arts

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Alumni Profile: Evren Ozel '17


Evren Ozel feels fortunate to have had great musical training even before Walnut Hill, in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. By the start of 9th grade, he knew he wanted to be a concert pianist, and felt it was time to make a change. Having heard great things about Walnut Hill from a friend (violist Sloane Wesloh ’14), Evren and his parents began researching piano teachers at NEC Prep, ultimately choosing to audition for the studio of Wha Kyung Byun: “When she agreed to take me on as a Prep student, I knew that Walnut Hill would be the perfect place for me.” What Evren loved most about his time at Walnut Hill was the feeling that he was in a community of like-minded people, who were “dedicated to bettering themselves through their art.” He no longer felt like the “weird kid who for some strange reason practiced piano all the time”—instead, this behavior was encouraged. After graduating two years ago, he transitioned to NEC, where he continues to study with Wha Kyung Byun. “I have had some of the most amazing opportunities and experiences of my life in the past year and a half,” Evren tells us. This includes winning 2nd Prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition last May, participating in the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival over the summer, and giving his first professional concerto performance with the Jacksonville Symphony last month—and there’s even more on the horizon for Evren. “While my performing schedule has gotten a little busier this year, I am still trying to stay well-grounded with my studies, and just trying to learn as much as I can,” he explains. Lessons from Walnut Hill are ever present in Evren’s life; he credits his time at the School with teaching him to manage his time more efficiently. He notes that it was his fantastic Walnut Hill teachers who motivated him to challenge himself to “do better” in everything he took on. “So far in my first two years of college, things have only gotten busier, and busier, and busier,” Evren tells us. “Time management is a skill that comes in handy, and it is a skill that I am continuously trying to develop.”