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Michael Lan - Piano


1- You are currently in your second year of undergraduate study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, under the tutelage of Philip Jenkins. How is this progressing?

When I first started learning with Philip, I definitely had a number of rough edges that needed smoothing out. I like to think I played to a good enough standard when I joined Guildhall, but it seemed Philip saw that I could improve my playing to a great extent over time. Two years into my time with him, I’m beginning to see that now, and it’s all thanks to him. I can say with all honesty that I’m so excited to see what I may achieve under his guidance.

2- Is your family musical?

My mum is certainly a big fan of classical music, but she doesn’t play.

3- You started taking piano lesson at Hindhead Music Centre at the tender age of six with Nikiforos Klironomos and then with Ourania Gassiou. Did you know at the time you wanted to dedicate your life to music?

Definitely not – it was just another one of those things that I took part in as a child. But it was a great skill to have and a wonderful world to be immersed in. The older I became, the more seriously I took it and the more I enjoyed it. However it was probably not until age 17 that I knew it was what I wanted to dedicate my life towards.

4- You were finalist and winner of the Kawai Prize at the 9th Young Pianist of the North International Competition in Newcastle. What pieces did you play?

It was only two rounds here and for the first round I played the first movement of Beethoven’s Op. 2 no. 3 and Chopin’s Étude in C major. In the final I played Beethoven Op. 109 followed by Chopin Scherzo no. 3.

5- You have won a whole number of awards and competitions. Does any one particularly stand out for you?

I’d have to say the prizes at the Young Pianist of the North. I spent my first year of Guildhall focusing on practice and performance, developing my technical ability. It was therefore nice to see, when I went to compete at the beginning of my second year that I was able to get some reward for the hard work!

6- This year, you were invited to record a piano duet for BBC Radio 3 at Air Edel Recording Studios. Can you tell us more about this project?

This was a project to provide a soundtrack for one of their radio programmes. It involved a number of piano four-hands works by Schubert. It was a great experience being in a professional environment, and we actually managed to complete it within a few takes!

7- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

I’d say my first performance with orchestra, playing Rachmaninoff 2nd concerto with Southern Pro Musica. To have that opportunity in the first place was a great privilege and then to perform with such a high-standard professional orchestra was just a massive bonus. I am very grateful to my old secondary school, RGS Guildford, for the opportunity.

8- How often do you practice?

Whenever I can, to be honest. Apart from performing, I’m definitely not the best at concentrating for long periods of time, so my practice is kind of made up of short but intense bursts of hard work!

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

Definitely – I already teach a little on the side at the moment. It’s something I’ll become more and more involved in as I progress.

10- How do you balance your time commitments in terms of study, research, performance? What are the biggest sacrifices?

I think it’s just about learning how to prioritise, as well as trying not to feel overwhelmed by many different commitments. For me, there are always sacrifices in terms of time for practice or study, but nothing substantial otherwise.

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submission June 2017