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Needham teenager Anna Larsen taps into musical talent

“From the Top”

Age: 14

Hometown: Needham, freshman at Needham High School

Think of: A Bay State could-be budding Beethoven. Anna was exposed to music at a young age by her father, an amateur pianist. When Anna was 3, she recalls, her father played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a toy xylophone for her and as soon as he finished, she snatched away the mallet and played the song back to him by memory. She began playing piano soon thereafter.

What caught our eye: Anna was one of several young musicians to perform during the 300th show of “From the Top,” recorded at Jordan Hall on Feb. 7.


Lightbulb moment: “The moment when I felt inspired to keep going with piano as a career was when I was 8 years old and I was invited to be part of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation,” Anna said. “Before that, I wasn’t exactly sure music was something that I wanted to do my whole life, but being part of such a big foundation really motivated me and made me think, ‘I guess I might be pretty good at this and I should keep going with it.’ ”

Biggest thrill: “I would have to say my recent experience at ‘From the Top’ was pretty great,” Anna said. “I was working really hard to prepare these two Chopin etudes and my own composition to play on the show. And it was probably one of the biggest, most important experiences I’ve had in a long time, because it was in front of almost a thousand people at that hall — and it’s such a beautiful hall with great acoustics.”

Inspired by: “Definitely all of my teachers in the past and present for piano and composing, because those are the people who really help me grow,” Anna said. “When you’re playing music for someone for such a long time, it’s not just the musical instruction they give you, it’s also sort of an emotional bond you form because sharing music is such a personal sort of thing. To have them guide you along that path for such a long time, you really form a close connection with them and they really inspire you in all that they teach you.”


Aspires to: “Music is something I want to be going to college for and something I want to pursue,” Anna said. “There’s no plan B: This is what I’m going to do for life. As for the specifics, I have a long time to think about exactly what I want to do, but I definitely love performing piano. I love composing so I would love to perform my own compositions different places. I also love chamber music and I’m interested in conducting too, so basically there’s a lot of different musical things I’m interested in.”

For good luck: “I have two things. First of all, I try to get a lot of sleep the night before, and the quirky thing I do before I perform, if it’s in the afternoon or the evening, I try to have something with tuna in it,” Anna said, giggling. “I don’t know why, but one time when I was about to have a big orchestra performance, I ate a tuna fish sandwich beforehand, and ever since it kind of became my good-luck thing. It’s kind of an inside joke.”


What people should know: Anna hopes she can inspire people. “I would encourage [people] to keep going with whatever their passion is and hopefully be inspired by the fact that I’ve tried to follow my passion, and hope that they can be able to do that as well because sometimes it can be hard, but it’s always worth it,” she said. “Something great will come out of it eventually.”

Coming soon: “The main thing that is coming up — which is huge — is that I have my new album coming out, called ‘Boundless,’” Anna said. “It includes the Chopin Opus 25 Etudes, as well as the Liszt Sonata in B Minor, and I basically spent the last few months recording it and getting it all ready and I’m really excited.”

Emily Wright

Emily Wright can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MissEmilyWright.