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Siqian Li - Piano

Interview

1- In your formative education you were a student of prestigious Chinese Pianist Madame Huiqiao Bao. How do you remember this master and this period?

The 12 year period I spent studying with Madame Huiqiao Bao was the most precious and memorable time of my life, and it has also had the most significant impact on me as a young musician. It helped form my artistic vision and outlook on life. Madame Bao is not only an amazing pianist, but also a real artist from an older generation. Her being such a strong-minded female artist is inspirational in so many ways beyond simply being a superior piano teacher. She is far more than a teacher to me. She is like family. I still go to her for advice when it comes to crossroads in my career and personal life, knowing she cares for me deeply, as if I were her child. She is a true role model—a life mentor.

2- Is your family musical?

None of my family members is a professional musician, but they absolutely love music!

3- You became the first pianist who was awarded the “Best of Best - Top and Innovative Talent” diploma and scholarship by China Ministry of Culture. How did this honour feel like?

Founded by the China Ministry of Culture, the “Best of Best - Top and Innovative Talent” program commenced in 2015 at the Central Conservatory of Music. Its aim was to select the most gifted young musicians from the top conservatory in China and to provide them with resources, such as fully-covered tuition, and extra funds for use in professional activities, without compromising the students’ freedom to balance academic study and professional development. Candidates were required to pass a performance assessment and all academic courses each year, to complete a full recital each semester with a different repertoire for each performance, and to participate in various international musical events, such as masterclasses and competitions, in order to obtain the final diploma at graduation. I felt extremely honoured to be the first pianist to be chosen to participate in the programme, but it also put a huge weight on my shoulders, which pushed me to work harder and to reach a higher level.

4- You obtained your Master of Music Degree at the New England Conservatory (Boston) as a student of Professor Alexander Korsantia. How do you recall this time and this mentor?

My teacher at the New England Conservatory, Professor Kosantia, is a wonderful pianist, a sincere artist, and a dear friend with whom I share a deep emotional connection. He inspired me to discover my sensitive side, to listen to the feelings deep inside of me, to reach my limits through musical performance. He showed me how to address my emotions through music, and how art is derived from the life of the artist. His emotional approach to the music touched me and led me to dwell in the extremity of music—to truly feel its spiritual power. My time studying in Boston was truly life-changing.

5- You continue your Artist Diploma at Royal College of Music (London) with Professor Norma Fisher. How is this progressing?

I will be officially starting my Artist Diploma at RCM with Professor Norma Fisher this September, and I am looking forward to it very much. I am sure it will be another unforgettable chapter of my musical study!

6- You have won an impressive number of competitions. Which one holds a special place in your memories?

The Leeds International Piano Competition was very special to me. That was my first time entering such a prestigious, top-level competition. The huge amount of competition program we had to prepare and the worldwide public attention made it incredibly challenging, physically and mentally, for every participant. I felt a great deal of pressure during the competition, but the organisers of the Leeds Competition created an extremely friendly and comfortable environment for participants. I felt at home enough to focus solely on the performance that I would bring to the stage. I found those two weeks extremely rewarding, since they helped me explore my own potential, pushed me to my limit, and gave me the wonderful opportunity to perform on a world-class stage and meet amazing fellow pianists. It was truly an outstanding competition experience, and I enjoyed it a lot!

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

In February of 2014, I was participating in a music festival in Kiev and was scheduled to play Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 in a concert, however, a few days after the festival started, the Ukrainian revolution erupted. There was violent activity involving protesters, shooters, and riot police for a few days at Independence Square in Kiev, right next to the Kiev Tchaikovsky Conservatory. I was only twenty-one at the time, and I was scared to be in a place where there had just been so much violence. The fact that the concert was still going on after all that had happened surprised me immensely. It was a very emotional moment, looking out at the audience and seeing how many people had still shown up to the concert. I could tell that everyone was looking for something in the music, and it was something I was blessed with the opportunity to offer.

8- How often do your practice?

Every day! It is basically my life. But occasionally no practice at all if I am just done with some important competitions or concerts.

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

Yes, I believe that, aside from stage performance, teaching music is the best way to extend the influence of classical music. I’d love to have the opportunity to share my understanding of music and performing arts with others, and I find the act itself very fulfilling. After all, music should be shared with all the people who love it and want to get involved.

10- What advice would you give to fellow music students at the start of their journey?

Music is a lifelong journey that needs tenacity, effort, and faith. If you choose it, enjoy it, believe in yourself and the music, everything will work out.

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submission July 2019