Valenti, 57, didn’t start playing piano until he was 15 years old in Fairview Village, Pa., about 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia. He practiced so hard that he injured his hands. He later earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Philadelphia Musical Academy and his Master of Music from Northwestern University. When he’s not practicing, performing or teaching students, he’s busy booking his own appearances and managing his travel and performance schedule, without an assistant.
“It always bothers me when people tell me I’m lucky to be able to make my living this way,” he says. “They don’t understand how hard I work.”
As of late September, he has performed 17 solo piano recitals this year, in Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Kansas, Hawaii, Texas, Virginia and Maryland. On Oct. 10, he’ll perform in Augusta, Ga. His schedule continues through the end of 2017, and he already has dates booked for 2018 and even into 2019.
No matter where he plays, he takes time to see the local sights, whether that means visiting Arlington National Cemetery, hiking in Hawaiian rainforests, or being the sole customer at a barn museum in rural Iowa.
But it’s his passion for music that keeps him going. Playing piano “is a labor of love for me,” says Valenti, who is also taking guitar lessons. He works on a 9 a.m.–9 p.m. schedule. When it’s time for bed, he says, “I can’t wait to get up and do it all over again.”
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