January 31, 2024

MSM Spotlight: Award-winning MSM student Lulwa Al Shamlan offers advice for prospective piano students

Lulwa Al Shamlan (BM ’23, MM ’25) is a first-year master student studying classical piano under the tutelage of Marc Silverman. A winner of the 2023 Dora Zaslavsky Koch Concerto Competition, Lulwa performed the featured piano solo with the MSM Symphony Orchestra this past September.

She speaks with us about her time at MSM, her advice for prospective piano students, and her favorite MSM experience so far.


Lulwa Al Shamlan is a Kuwaiti-Bulgarian pianist and has performed in various venues across Europe, the USA, Central Asia and the Middle East. Some notable performances include her appearance as a soloist with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Uzbekistan State Symphony Orchestra. Lulwa has also given solo recitals at the House of Pianos in Dubai, Dar Al Athar Cultural Centre in Kuwait, and performances at Zankel and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as well as the Chamber Hall in Sofia, Bulgaria. At the age of eight, Lulwa was accepted into Wells Cathedral School, a specialized music
school in the UK where she graduated from in 2019. She then went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music with Dr. Marc Silverman where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Piano in May 2023. Lulwa is currently continuing her studies at MSM and is in her first year of the Master of Music program.

What advice do you have for anyone auditioning for the MSM piano department?

Lulwa: My advice for anyone auditioning for the MSM piano department would be to choose repertoire that you enjoy playing the most and shows your potential because the faculty mainly want to see your passion and your interest to take your ability to the next level. Since you can choose what piece you would like to start with, definitely choose the piece you feel most comfortable with so you can relax on stage.

What is your most memorable MSM experience?

Lulwa: My most memorable experience while at MSM was when I performed Grażyna Bacewicz’s Piano Concerto this past September with the MSM Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Manahan. This was certainly an unforgettable moment for me especially because it felt like home to be able to perform alongside my friends. I am grateful to have had this opportunity and I am glad I was able to showcase a female composer as well as a concerto that is lesser known.


Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Piano Concerto, Molto allegro

When you’re not in class or practicing, what do you like to do for fun?

Lulwa: When I am not in class or practicing, I love exploring new areas and places in New York, there is never a dull moment. When the weather is nice, I enjoy walks around my neighborhood and going to coffee shops and restaurants. I would highly recommend the Hungarian Pastry Shop which is also close to MSM. In New York, you meet people from all over the world and this is one of the best things about New York. My friends come from many different places and hanging out is so much fun because we find out things we did not know before about other cities and countries.

Who is your favorite composer to play and why?

Lulwa: I would say my favorite composer at the moment is Pancho Vladigerov who is a Bulgarian composer. I love how his music combines Bulgarian folk with a post-Romantic style and since he was also a pianist, he composes so well for the instrument. I think it is important for musicians to play music that we connect with. MSM especially encourages us to learn repertoire from our own backgrounds so another reason I enjoy performing Vladigerov’s music is because I am able to share a part of my culture with the audience.

Pictured (L to R): George Manahan, Lulwa Al Shamlan, Marc Silverman

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