Her fingers skipped and danced across the keys, creating a euphony of sweet and short notes that ended with a final pound and a swipe through the air. She looked out to the audience, gave a bow, and walked off the stage of Carnegie Hall.  

Claire Charanachitta, an Access Exeter Student, started her excursion from Phillips Exeter Academy to New York City the morning of Tuesday, July 19. She climbed into the car, temporarily said farewell to the school, and soon was staring at the famous skyscraper skyline.  

Tuesday was non-stop for Claire. “It was a rush,” she recounted, “but in a good way.” Once she made it to Carnegie, she ran through a dress rehearsal with the other thirty performers and soon enough she was waiting behind the curtains getting ready to perform.  

“I was super nervous,” she said, but as soon as she began her piece all the nerves were left in the past.  

While playing the excerpt from Béla Bartók’s “Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm”, Claire became an extension of the music. “It’s not aggressive, but not soft,” she explained, “it still has a flow to it.” She embodied this description of the song perfectly through the way she swayed and jolted with the different notes and chords.  

After she performed, she gave a quick bow and glided across the stage in her long pink dress before the next performer began.  

She ended her Tuesday with the awards ceremony in which she was awarded first place. To perform at Carnegie Hall, she had to win first, second, or third place in a category during the audition process, but gaining recognition was still extremely rewarding for Claire.  

Claire was never in it for the prize though. She finds there are aspects of the experience that are much more rewarding than a first-place plaque.  

Sitting backstage, she was blown away by the abilities of some of the younger performers. Seeing the talent that musicians her age and even younger possessed is a huge inspiration to Claire.  

Just knowing that her ample talent was recognizable enough to be wanted at Carnegie was a reward in itself. Looking onto the stage at the lone piano and unoccupied bench she could not have been prouder of herself.