1. Is your family musical?
I’m the only musician in my family.
2. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Maestro CHUNG Myung-Whun. He was the first South Korean pianist to win the joint Silver Medal Prize in 1974 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. He has always been my role model since I was a child. I have a great respect for his achievements so far as a pianist, a conductor and a great chef! (He has published several cookbooks). He is the reason why I’m currently studying both the piano and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in the hope of becoming a great conductor as well as a world-class concert pianist.
3. In 2013, you received the Bachelor of Music in piano performance with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland under the tutelage of Rae de Lisle. Can you tell us more of this time of training in New Zealand and how it was to be mentored by this lady?
I have studied with my dearest teacher and a mentor, Ms. Rae de Lisle, since I was 10 years old until I graduated from the University of Auckland with a First Class Honours. The University of Auckland School of Music has a very small number of students compared to other major music institutions in the world. For example, there are only 120-150 students including both undergraduate and postgraduate students from all different music departments. Therefore, it is very much a family-like atmosphere. All students know each other very well so everyone supports each other. Ms. de Lisle not only taught me how to play the piano but she also taught me to see the beauty in classical music and somehow I have naturally learnt to sincerely respect classical music. She has continuously supported me for the past 10 years with great care, love and also she has given me many valuable life advices.
4. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?
I performed a recital at the Auckland Town Hall, Concert Chamber in 2012. I was absolutely grateful to the fact that it was completely sold-out with a full house audience and I have also found out that an extra 120 people couldn’t get tickets to attend the recital. I was overwhelmed by the support that I have received from the New Zealand audience who have seen me grow since I first performed at the age 12.
5. You also studied at the Aspen Music Festival and School with Ann Schein and John O’Conor from 2007 to 2013. Was this a regular summer workshop in Colorado and what are your abiding impressions of this period of your life please?
Aspen is one of the greatest places that I have been to in my life so far. I consider myself very lucky to be accepted as a student at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School for 6 summers; spending almost all my teenage years from the ages 15-19 and as a 21 years old. It’s an absolutely beautiful place, located in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. There are concerts everyday and as a student, I attended concerts for free every single day. This is where I had an opportunity to hear not only piano music but also many different genres of classical repertoire. Also, I have made many life-long friends. For example, the friends that I have made when I first visited Aspen as a 15 years old, I still keep in touch with them and many of them have now become world touring soloists and some of them became teachers in major conservatoires.
6. You made your concerto debut with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra performing Grieg Piano Concerto Op. 16 at the tender age of 12. How do you recall the atmosphere and your feelings at the time?
It was the time I received a full standing ovation from the 3000 full house audience. The best part was that I later found that my teacher, Ms. Rae de Lisle gave me a standing ovation for the first time as well but unfortunately I think that was also the last time that she gave me that acknowledgement.
7. You were awarded 1st Prize in the 2008 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York. What pieces did you play then?
I can’t remember the full list of repertoire but I have definitely played ‘Islamey’ by Balakirev.
8. Do you have a dream accompanist, dead or alive, you would like to perform with?
I would like to perform a piano concerto under the baton of Maestro CHUNG Myung-Whun.
9. How often and for how long do you practice?
Now, I can only practice on weekdays for average 4 hours per day.
10. Do you or would you like to teach music?
I enjoy teaching. I would like to return the favour by sharing my knowledge that I have received from my great teachers to many students as possible.
11. In 2013 you were the First New Zealander to be invited by the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage of New Zealand, Hon. Christopher Finlayson, to present a piano solo recital at the Grand Hall of New Zealand Parliament, ‘Beehive’. How was this received and what pieces did you play?
I met Minister Finlayson in London. I had an opportunity to introduce myself to him and I couldn’t believe when he asked me if I would like to come and perform at the New Zealand Parliament in front of Members of Parliament, and ambassadors. Without a hesitation, I accepted his generous mind-blowing suggestion.
12. In 2012 you became the First New Zealander to become the Young Steinway Artist. How does this acknowledgment feel like?
As a New Zealander, I feel extremely proud of this acknowledgment and everyday it gives me more motivation to keep practicing harder.
13. Can you tell us more of future projects in the pipeline?
I have a debut recital at Steinway Hall in London in May. Then, I have 3 recitals and Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4 performance in New Zealand in July. I have also been asked by the ‘Chamber Music New Zealand’ agency in New Zealand to do a New Zealand regional recital concert tour in 2015 but it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet.