Born in Puerto Rico, Awilda Villarini began her study of piano when she was ten years old. A year later, she started to improvise and compose. “At this point” she says: “I could not write down the music, but memorized my compositions.” She gave her first recital at age fourteen and composed a piano sonata in the style of Haydn. A few years later, she went abroad to study and had the opportunity to listen to some wonderful pianists. Because she lacked the necessary background in harmony, she was not allowed to study composition. Therefore, she studied piano and became a concert pianist.
European Experience and Concerts
Through grants from the Instituto de Cultura and the University of Puerto Rico, Ms. Villarini studied in Paris and Vienna. Returning to the United States, she received a grant from the Ford Foundation enabling her to work on a PH.D in piano performance. While studying for her doctorate, she auditioned for managers in Europe and was able to play in France, London, Vienna, Belgium and Switzerland. Her debut recital was in Weill Hall in New York City and Ms. Villarini won the Artists International Pianist Award.
When she was getting ready to tour colleges in the United States, she was advised by an MD to have surgery to remove a birthmark. She explains: “After the surgery, my career as a pianist had to stop, since I suffered from intense and chronic pain that did not allow me to practice. I decided to muffle my physical and emotional pain by dedicating myself to composition.” She studied composition under Giampaolo Bracali and composed music for voice, various instruments and orchestra. Villarini also studied MIDI and electronic music at NYU, where she received her MA in composition.
Resolution and Rebirth
Finally able to find proper medical attention, Villarini resumed her career as a pianist with the recording Dancing in Latin America. She is active as composer, pianist and teacher. While residing in New York City, she has taught at New York University and CUNY.