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Kathy Chow - Piano

Interview

1. You made your debut piano recital in 2007 at the Callaway Music Auditorium, raising funds for the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children Western Australia. How do you recall this important moment in your life?

I remember feeling calm yet excited. It was the first time I was to perform in a non- competitive setting, so I did not feel particularly nervous or under pressure. I think being young and inexperienced contributed to my positive mind-set. The sense of giving joy to the audience and for a good cause made a lasting impression on me; I fell in love with performing.

2. Is your family musical?

Yes, and no. My parents did not come from a musical family but my dad loved classical music and it was playing in our house a 24/7. They go me a toy piano and since we never had many toys growing up I took a real interest and thought it was fun.

3. You studied with Glenn Riddle at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music where you graduated with a Bachelor of Music. How do you remember this time and being mentored by this master?

Glenn Riddle pushed me to work hard and go far beyond what I thought were my limits. Every week I would have to bring new pieces and by memory. If not for his intense dedication to his students, I do not think I would have developed as strong a work ethic as I have. We worked in intense detail and I was exposed to much of the keyboard literature through him.

4. You completed a Masters of Performance at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama under Martin Roscoe with distinction. What sort of important lessons did this mentor provide you with that clearly allowed you to excel then and later?

Martin Roscoe really taught me to listen to myself. Sound, colour and imagination – going beyond the literal score were a focal point in our lessons. Before I used to think of myself as a pianist, a performer even. The piano as an instrument has always been a vehicle in which to express my inner most emotions and Martin brings out the best in me and pushes me to think and question everything and develop my own personal voice.

5. You have won many competitions and prizes. Does anyone of these accolades particularly stand out for you?

The first concerto competition I won in Melbourne, Australia gives me fond memories because I was given the opportunity to perform Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto with an orchestra as part of the prize. I was also pleased to receive first prize in the Birmingham International Piano Competition because it was the first international competition I had entered so I didn’t expect much or even think about reaching the finals.

6. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

I remember attending my first ever orchestral concert when I was quite young. I can’t remember what the program was, but it gave me a strange feeling that at the time I couldn’t pinpoint or put words to describe. I was too young to understand, but it was the first time I was truly moved by art.

7. How often do your practice?

It depends on the day because I don’t have a piano at home. At my school it’s a matter of hanging around and hopping around from one room to the next, given that there are any free rooms at all. Some days as little as two and others up to six hours.

8. Would you consider teaching in the future?

I have been teaching since I was fourteen and I was always good with kids as I am a naturally very patient person! It is inspiring to see the joy in a child who realises that with practice and dedication they can achieve what they previously thought was unachievable. Piano lessons for children should be fun and full of possibilities, and I always aimed to bring out the most in my students.

9. Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

If the Berlin Philharmonic would like to accompany the current piano concerto I am working on, I’ll check my diary and see if I am free!

10. You are currently an Artist Diploma candidate at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. How is this progressing?

It is a wonderful program that allows serious performing artists the freedom to take the next step in their career and while still taking lessons. I have the advantage of taking opportunities the school offers, such as masterclasses, chamber coaching, and performance platforms for me to try out new repertoire.

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submission April 2019