This editions Q&A is with jet-setting concert pianist and Sydney International Piano Competition winner, Avan Yu.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a concert pianist?
The most rewarding thing about being a concert pianist for me, is that my profession is also my passion.
When did you decide that this was going to be the career for you?
I decided to pursue the career of a concert pianist when I was fourteen. It was at around the same time I entered and won my first international piano competition.
What is one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in this profession?
One of the challenges to this profession is the unpredictability of the career. One year you could have double the number of concerts as the previous year, and the year after, half! It is hard to plan because there are many variables and they all follow a different timeframe.
What example could you give of an unexpected ‘perk’ to the job of a concert musician?
The great perk of being a concert musician is that I get to travel the world. Not only do I get to visit many countries, I also get to immerse myself in the culture of a place much more deeply than a typical tourist. I sometimes stay with families when I travel – and talking with them, living in their homes and learning about their culture and customs is much more interesting than staying at a Marriott hotel.
Do you have a particular formula for structuring a program?
Programming can follow two paths: one where you have a particular focus, like an all-Chopin program or a program focusing on a theme…like ‘the music inspired by women’ for example, or one where you have a well-balanced program. A program like that can have a variety of styles and would avoid being one-sided, keeping in mind the flow from piece to piece.
Do you always have an encore prepared?
I always have a couple up my sleeve.
Do you prefer to perform with music or from memory?
I always try to memorize a work unless it is extremely complex and would require unrealistic efforts to learn it by memory.
What advice would you give to upcoming musicians in today’s world?
My advice is to follow your passion. That is the only thing that will keep you going forward.