What does winning this year’s Emerging Artists Series mean to you?
It’s a huge honour to be named the winner, and I’m very grateful to Theme & Variations for providing us with this opportunity. I’ve been performing for a long time but I’d never gotten up and performed for half an hour in front of an audience, so this outcome gives me a lot of encouragement and validation; it can sometimes be difficult to know if you’re on the right track. I feel very lucky after watching many of the other participants, it’s clear everyone has put in a lot of work.
How did you start playing the piano?
I started when I was eight years old. My mother noticed I was getting into videogames and presented me with an electronic keyboard as an alternative source of entertainment. My mother is a cellist and I think the plan was to get me playing the cello at some point, but I was enjoying the keyboard so much that we moved on to an upright, started proper lessons, and just carried on from there.
Who has been your biggest inspiration from your personal life?
Obviously I would not be where I am without the huge amounts of love and support my parents have given me. My mother is the more musical of the two and has given me valuable guidance from the very beginning, and continues to do so. She is the strongest, most selfless person I know. My father came to Australia when he was very young and managed to build his life up from nothing, so I can always rely on him for good advice on anything and everything. Going to the Conservatorium High School, and now the Conservatorium of Music, I’ve always been surrounded by passionate teachers and colleagues. My friends at the Con are all fantastic musicians and inspire me constantly. I’ve learned that any challenge can be overcome in good company.
What pieces did you choose to play in your performance, and why?
Much of 2015 was spent preparing for the 1st Zhuhai International Mozart Competition, so my teacher and I built the Emerging Artists program around the competition repertoire. I learned the 1st movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K310 when I was about 14. It was my first foray into Mozart’s darker music, and I was glad to take the opportunity this year to learn the entire sonata. The Chopin etude op. 10 no. 12 is another piece I’ve known for a while; it’s an impressive piece and I feel confident playing it. I took an instant liking to the Debussy no. 10 after listening to the complete etudes, it’s just a fantastic sound world to work with. The Alkan ‘Scherzo Diabolico’ is an effective showstopper, and I played it for my audition so it wasn’t too much trouble to pick back up.
Who would you consider your musical role models?
I’ve listened to Alfred Brendel and Sviatoslav Richter since I started playing. If either of them have recorded something I’m learning, I’ll usually start with that recording before branching out to others. On a more personal level, Dr Rickard-Ford has overseen my first year at the Con and his tutelage has been fantastic; I’ve felt consistently challenged without being overwhelmed by the workload. Once you’re learning loads of music, and having to meet deadlines, you pick up time management and short-term goal setting skills very quickly.
What music are you working on at the moment?
Haydn’s A flat major Piano Sonata Hob XVI: 46 and Chopin’s Etude op. 25 no. 6. Chopin’s Piano Sonata no. 2 op. 35 is also on the agenda.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
It’s impossible for me to say. I’m happy just to continue learning and improving, see where that takes me.