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Sara Davis Buechner talks about being a transgender concert pianist

15 Comments
By Kathryn Wortley

As she approaches her sixth decade of playing the piano, Sara Davis Buechner remains as passionate as ever about the instrument she loves. While speaking with Sara in her home in Philadelphia, with a laugh she says she can never retire; music is in her soul and it should be shared.

It’s not surprising to learn that when the critically acclaimed concert pianist is not performing across the globe, she is avidly supporting future generations: teaching budding musicians at Temple University, presenting masterclasses, and judging international piano competitions.

In addition to extensive touring in South America, Europe, and Asia, Sara has performed in every state and province of North America as a chamber musician and soloist for top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony. Her technical ability, creative flair, and intuitive genius showcased in her performances has been lauded by the New York Times and Washington Post, and she recently celebrated 30 years as a Yamaha Artist in 2017.

Sara frequently visits Japan to spend time in her Japanese wife’s hometown and to perform for the New Japan Philharmonic, but she is preparing to return to Tokyo this month for one of her most ambitious projects yet: performing all 21 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s piano concertos with the Tokyo Sinfonia over the course of eight concerts. This is a feat that has never before been attempted by one artist.

As a prominent figure in music and proud transgender woman, Sara also appears at LGBTQ events to speak about her experience transitioning from David to Sara Davis, at age 39. Feeling trapped but obligated to play the part of David, Sara felt herself depressed and suicidal—until she found the strength to become who she was always meant to be.

We caught up with Sara to find out more about her passion for the piano, her musical journey, her upcoming challenge in Japan, and how she feels about her gender transition today.

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Sara frequently visits Japan to spend time in her Japanese wife’s hometown

Can a "progressive" person please explain this. I can't get my head around it.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

She mentions her Japanese Wife--would that mean that "she" is the Husband? As a husbamd is a man married to a woman how is it that "she" can identify as a woman? Does it refer to the nature of their sexual relationship? For an unsophisticated old white man it is confusing!

0 ( +7 / -7 )

BB and Seadog, do you really have no same-gender couples in your social circles or extended families?

If not, perhaps you could find listen to interviews by famous people, like say, Elton John or Ellen Degeneres where they mention their spouses. That might help you wrap your head around a couple comprised of two husbands or two wives.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm just wondering when it became LGBT...Q...???

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm just wondering when it became LGBT...Q...???

Right before it turned into LGBTQI

But maybe my I'm not up-to-date on the latest nomenclature, because I thought a transgender women would have a husband, why does she have a wife?

Unless timeon is correct and she was originally a straight man who changed into a lesbian woman.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

until she found the strength to become who she was always meant to be.

This is a very subjective situation, why is worded as if it was fact?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You guys are way behind on the latest terminology. It's LGBTQIA+.

Two women married to each other refer to each other as "wives." Two men married to each other refer to each other as "husbands." Both women in all-woman marriage are a wife, both men in all-male marriage are a husband. In this case it's complicated by the fact that one wife used to be a man. In fact I read that Buechner and his Japanese partner met when he was a man. But I don't think they had a relationship back then. Or maybe they did. Wharever, it's complicated.

Best to stick to the fact that Buechner plays the piano, and is apparently pretty good at it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can a "progressive" person please explain this. I can't get my head around it.

Why not just let people lead the lives they want to lead?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why can't she be mentioned as just a great pianist? Why must her gender be the hook to hang her story on? It contradicts the position that says: I just want to be considered normal like everyone else. No one ever says, Here's Ronald Blake, a great assigned-gendered pianist. Christopher Hitchens wrote a book called God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. I sense an urge to write a thesis called Progressivism is Not Great: How Identity Politics Spoils Everything.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Exactly as @Mr Noidall and others posted. Talk about Buechner’s amazing piano skills as opposed to the tabloid shock tactics used in the headlines. Click baiting?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wonder if she can play my favorite Aerosmith song?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Ms Sara Davis Buechner hadn'tve wanted her sexuality mentioned in the article surely she could have specified it. The fact that many such people are shouting their sexuality from the rooftops makes it noticeable and arouses prurient interest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why can’t she be mentioned as just a great pianist? Why must her gender be the hook to hang her story on?

@Mr Noidall Her gender affects her life and affects the way she is received in professional situations. There is not a plethora of famous transgender classical musicians. By talking about the struggles she may have faced, not only will she open the eyes of others to ways they can help make it easier for trans artists to be seen and heard, but she may inspire a young trans musician who thought it would be impossible to keep their head up and continue putting themself out there.

Sara, you’re an inspiration to young trans people everywhere. Your story tells us that it’s never too late to make changes in your life, and that you can never let people keep you from doing what you love. I hope you keep playing for many years to come, and good luck on your endeavor to play all 21 sonatas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Mr Noidall Her gender affects her life and affects the way she is received in professional situations. There is not a plethora of famous transgender classical musicians. By talking about the struggles she may have faced, not only will she open the eyes of others to ways they can help make it easier for trans artists to be seen and heard, but she may inspire a young trans musician who thought it would be impossible to keep their head up and continue putting themself out there

Trans artists are not struggling, they aren't special. Artists of all types are struggling and starving. Trans does not automatically mean you are oppressed. Why is being oppressed and a victim such a virtue these days? You are a grain of sand on the beach, your experience is no better or worse than anybody else's and doesn't deserve special attention.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ Mr Noidall I agree with what you have to say. I am not in the least interested in anyone's sexual orientation. If people have talent, they are talented. If people are bad they are bad. If people are great, they are great. I fail to see who they share or don't share a bed with makes any difference.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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