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Erdem Mısırlıoğlu


1. What was the first piece(s) you learned?

I started having keyboard lessons when I was 6 years old. My dad was friends with someone local who taught and sent me and my brother there to learn. It wasn’t the piano to start off with, so for the first three years I would play chords with my left hand and the melody to popular songs in my right hand. Lots of Beatles and Abba and songs from musicals.

2. You studied for five years under Mark Fielding at Junior Guildhall, how was this period for you?

I look back at this period as the time that I really became interested in music. Mark was very good at really getting me to explore music and was always encouraging me to listen to this piece or have a go at that piece. I always used to play for fun but it became more serious in these years. By the time I was 16 or 17 I realised that I really wanted to commit myself to music as a profession. It wasn’t an easy choice as I had other interests too, but I don’t regret the decision at all.

3. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

I really think the list would be far too long, but to be very general I like hearing anyone who can move an audience without ever compromising the integrity of the music. There are thousands of impressive pianists out there - the interesting ones are not the ones who can play fastest or loudest, but the ones who can hold an audience and make them want to listen.

4. What has been the high points of your studies at Guildhall Music Department where you are currently a fourth year student?

I would have to say that although lessons have always been inspiring and hugely helpful, I think it the most special thing about the place is the fact that so many young people are there to do the same thing - we all share a common love and that’s a great environment to be a part of.

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

I think my fondest and even most memorable musical experiences are often just in a practice room when I discover an amazing piece for the first time and just don’t want to stop playing it. It has happened many times, and it’s something like falling in love - it can be overpowering, even obsessive.

6. How is it like to study with concert pianist, Martin Roscoe?

Martin is a fantastic pianist and has helped me develop a lot over the last few years. I have always enjoyed our lessons - he doesn’t just give me what he thinks I am missing, but really forces me to think about it with the questions he asks. It is a very open style of teaching, he rarely demands anything of me, but is constantly suggesting possibilities of how to play, which I find very liberating.

7. You were a prize-winner in the International Rachmaninov Competition for Young Pianists in 2006. What piece did you play and any impressions of that day?

I don’t think I can remember all of what I played throughout the various rounds, but it was a lot of Rachmaninov and I remember being overwhelmed by the level of the playing over there. There were people who could hardly span an octave, but were playing hugely virtuosic music.

8. In 2008 you won the Principal’s prize at GSMD and were the piano winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year. Tell us more about these high points.

The BBC competition helped me to start performing more regularly because of the sheer number of viewers. I owe a lot of what I do now to that competition, but I have always been careful not to get too carried away. I still have a lot of developing to do, every year I have noticed a big improvement and I don’t see that slowing down any time in the near future - I hope I never stop learning.

9. How often and for how long do you practice?

It ranges quite a lot. I have never been a particularly consistent worker. On average I probably manage 4 hours a day, but I can also have some weeks where I barely touch the piano, and others where I am doing 8-10 hours a day. I am trying to be less erratic with my practice patterns, but unfortunately a lot just depends on my mood.

10. Do you or would you like to teach music?

Most certainly, I think teaching can be very rewarding under the right circumstances. I hope one day to be teaching students that are really interested.

11. How do you balance your music with other obligations – or do studies win over performing commitments?

I think I generally prioritize my performances over studies, but as my degree is largely performance based, if I work hard at the practical side of things I should come out with a good degree at the end of this year.

12. Do you compose?

I studied composition for 5 years at Junior Guildhall, but haven’t thought about taking it any further. I always enjoyed it, I think any musician does as it is a very creative process. I don’t rule it out completely in the future, but at the moment I am concentrating on my own playing.

13. Do you listen to ‘world music’, how wide is you taste in music genres?

I don’t listen to enough different genres. Like most people, if I don’t immediately like something, I won’t be in a rush to listen to more of it. Maybe this is a mistake, I am sure I have missed a lot because of it, hopefully I will discover more as time goes on.

14. You are part of a piano trio formed with friends at GSMD as well as the ‘Arnold Camerata’, a larger ensemble of string and wind players from GSMD and Royal Academy of Music. Could you introduce your fellow players to us?

The piano trio is with Pablo Hernan and Michael Petrov, both hugely talented musicians. The Arnold Camerata website is and I have enjoyed working with these friends over the last two years.

15. Do you have future projects in the pipeline?

This year I have some exciting concerts lined up. Last night (15 October 2011) I gave my first performance of Liszt’s 1st Piano Concerto with CCSO in Cambridge. Other engagements this season include Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Mozart’s Concerto in D minor K466 and Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto.

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