Pianist Puripat Paesaroch is a man of few words, but when he plays, he has a lot to say. Originally from Thailand and with a degree from the National University of Singapore, he came to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to build his career as a professional pianist and music scholar. “Music is how I express myself,” he notes, and it’s not surprising for a person who began playing when he was only three-and-a-half years old.
Now in a doctor of musical arts (DMA) program at Arizona State University, Paesaroch notes that, to him, music is a lifelong journey. “You’re not finished learning music at the completion of the DMA. It takes a lifetime to gain a true understanding of it. To do that by being only a performer, or only a professor, would be impossible.” That’s why Paesaroch plans on being both.
Growing up in Bangkok, he partook in several piano competitions in Thailand and performed all over the country, from Phuket in the south to Chiang Mai in the north. “I enjoyed having the opportunity to perform in different places and meet new people,” he says.
Looking back on his time as a young pianist, Paesaroch notes, “I just wanted to keep improving myself. I realized this was something I could do well. Music was a way to communicate with others.”
For high school, he attended the prestigious Mahidol University and, after graduation, enrolled in the National University of Singapore. “I wanted to gain a broader experience,” says Paesaroch, “and so I went to Singapore for college.”
While earning his bachelor’s degree, Paesaroch undertook intensive piano training with a full schedule of practicing, lessons, rehearsals, and performances. “I learned a large amount of repertoire in Singapore, and there was also a focus on chamber music, like at the San Francisco Conservatory.”
After Singapore, Paesaroch knew SFCM was the right fit. Studying with Sharon Mann, his teacher, was a highlight, as was living in the city of San Francisco. “There are so many concerts with world-class musicians—this was something I loved experiencing during my studies. And not just classical music—San Francisco has a huge variety of concerts and offerings.”
In class, Paesaroch enjoyed the collaborative spirit of his fellow students. “The piano forum—where students from different studios play for each other—was a very useful experience. Sharing music with other people is something that made my SFCM experience unique.”
He also noted that the friendly environment at the Conservatory helped him grow as a pianist. “The faculty is very open to students taking lessons with other teachers. Of course, this was helpful because I learned new things and got different perspectives on my playing. The support I felt at SFCM was very special.”
When he wasn’t practicing or in class, Paesaroch spent his time cultivating his professional career as a teacher and performer in San Francisco. After winning the SFCM concerto competition and performing with the Conservatory Orchestra, he worked with an agency and gave solo recitals in San Francisco.
After graduating with a master’s degree in piano performance in 2017, Paesaroch performed throughout the Bay Area and taught at three local music schools, including the Northern California Music and Art Culture Center and Music City Academy.
As a DMA candidate in piano performance, Paesaroch never misses an opportunity to perform and meet new people. Recently, he was in Grenoble, France, as part of a music exchange with the Grenoble Conservatory and Arizona State. They all played for one another and will do the same when the students from France visit Arizona.
Ultimately, he plans to return to Thailand as a scholar of Western and Thai music. His doctoral project explores Thai compositions for solo piano and chamber ensembles, research he bolsters by performing the very pieces on which he is focused. “Playing these pieces is a good way to start making a connection with the music. At the end of this project, I would like to be both a pianist and spokesperson for Thai music worldwide.”
When he’s not immersed in his own piano studies or musical analysis, Paesaroch is teaching students at the university. He is dedicated to guiding younger generations of pianists through the repertoire that first inspired him to become a musician. “It is always a pleasure for me to teach students here. I can share my knowledge—we discuss pieces, composers, and musical styles.”
Ever the lifelong learner, Paesaroch admits that he even learns new repertoire with his students, discovering and mastering new pieces together and taking an active role in the learning process.
When asked what advice he’d give students pursuing degrees at SFCM, he says, “Practice hard, and watch all the concerts you can—that’s how you get inspired.” Someday soon, they might be inspired by one of Paesaroch’s performances.