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Tyler Hay - Piano


1- You studied with the Head of Keyboard, Andrew Haigh at Kent Music Academy for 3 years. How do you recall these times and this master?

Andrew Haigh had been a remarkable child prodigy, having given his London debut at the age of 11 in front of the Queen. He had a promising career under the tuition of Cyril Smith but it was cut short after a repetitive strain injury was developed, from which he never fully recovered. He continued to play to a high standard but decided to specialise in teaching. I was 10 when I joined Andrew’s class and I now reflect on his lessons as being the most important of my life. He had tremendous energy and imagination and it was with his variety of ideas that I realised the depth of potential in pianistic interpretation. He was the first to introduce me to the question “is it this?...or is it this?” Anything was possible as long as it was justifiable. If he specialised in anything, it was probably Chopin and the Classical Era and so he exposed my technique to a lot of earlier music. I wish I could have studied with Andrew as a more mature musician. He didn’t stand for my cheek and believe me, I was full of it then! He must be the friendliest man I’ve ever met.

2- Is your family musical?

The only musician in my family was my late Granddad. He was a beautiful and highly skilful Cocktail and Jazz pianist. He taught me for a couple of years from the age of 6 and his teaching of music theory sparked an early interest in composition, which fizzled out somewhat in my teenage years. He was a lovely pianist and will always be my first and most important musical influence.

3- You then studied at the Purcell School for Young Musicians with Tessa Nicholson. How did this master help you develop?

Tessa Nicholson has become one of the most impressive teachers in the UK over the last 10 years and has helped so many of the most talented young pianists around. I am lucky to have been under Tessa’s tuition for 5 years and in that time, she polished my technique and crucially, taught me a huge variety of practice methods. She is an incredibly passionate musician that unlocked the expressive side of my musical nature in a way that had previously been repressed. The extraordinary level of detail we would work in opened my eyes to the intricacies and hidden strokes of genius in the greatest works. Most of my pianistic development took place in these 5 years. Her dedication is unrivalled!

4- You then studied with the Head of Keyboard, Graham Scott and the British pianist, Professor Frank Wibaut at the Royal Northern College of Music. How do you recall these times and these masters?

My time at the Royal Northern was often turbulent but I had a very interesting time with my piano teachers there. Head of Keyboard, Graham Scott, was very good at polishing my performances and drawing my attention to details that would be important in competition playing or recordings. He also put a strong emphasis on my quality of sound, whether it be on a single note or over a whole texture. For this reason, he was particularly strong in teaching the impressionists. I studied some of my biggest concert repertoire with Graham. My time with the well known pianist, Frank Wibaut, was interesting because he was able to unlock a musicality within me that I had been previously unaware of. He focused on physical movement and how this connects with quality of sound, the shapes of phrases and communication in performance. Under Frank, I really learned to open up my playing in a truly expressive way and to play with a controlled flexibility. I can never underestimate Frank’s wonderful musicality and I feel that I went through a further maturing process whilst studying with him.

5- You won the esteemed Gold Medal competition at the Royal Northern and played in the prize winner’s concert at Wigmore Hall in the Spring of 2017. How do you remember your emotions at the time and what pieces did you play?

The RNCM Gold Medal Competition was a special one for me because I had dedicated my performance in the final to a dear friend and former school teacher. She was in hospital with terminal cancer. My emotional commitment to the performance enabled me to play my best. I played 2 works of Liszt at the Wigmore Hall. Les Jeux d’Eaux a la Villa d’Este and Variations on Weinen Klagen Sorgen Zagen. It was a tremendous and moving occasion!

6- You have won an impressive number of competitions. Does any one of these particularly stand out for you?

My most treasured competition win so far has to be the Purcell School Concerto Competition. I spent all day watching the final in 2007 and was captivated by the standard of the music making. I quietly always wanted to win the prize in my final year at school...and I did!

7- In the Spring of 2018 you released a CD of John Ogdon’s unpublished works and a new album consisting of Kalkbrenner’s Etudes op 143 is due to be released in the summer of 2019 and this will be the first commercial recording made on a modern pianoforte. What is the inspiration for these unusual selections?

John Ogdon has always been a hero of mine and I have always loved the few recordings he made of his own compositions. I had the idea to make a commercial CD of his work since studying in Manchester from 2012. His manuscripts are in the library archives there and I had the permission to study them. My interest in lesser known and under-appreciated piano repertoire comes from my friendship with Mark Viner. He is a specialist in Thalberg, Alkan and many other great 19th century pianists and I believe him to be one of the most important young musicians alive today. He has helped me to understand just how unimaginative and lazy many pianists can be with their repertoire choices. Like him, I get a huge amount of satisfaction through doing my research and finding a hidden gem that has fallen by the wayside due to careless neglect. The Kalkbrenner Etudes are absolute beauties and some of them would even stand quite happily next to the Etudes of Chopin, written at the same time incidentally. Mark Viner is one of my musical idols.

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

My fondest memory of a concert must be my first performance of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit in Manchester several years ago. It was a huge pianistic milestone for me and it went better than I could have ever expected! My favourite overall musical memory was sitting up all night with the respected British pianist Andrew Wilde and listening to and analysing many of history’s greatest pianists. I have never met a more detailed and attentive listener. I wish I could live that night again!

9- How often do your practice?

My practice hours have gone up in the last couple of years, simply because I enjoy it more. Without an impending concert deadline, I’ll practice as much as I feel like which can be anything from 1 hour to 9 or 10. It largely depends on my mood.

10- Would you consider teaching in the future?

I already teach a number of private students 1 day a week in a local music shop. I enjoy it a great deal! I try to treat my students as individuals and I adjust my teaching to get the best results out of each one.

11- Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

Gerald Moore is my favourite accompanist at the piano. I’m told that Sir Adrian Boult was a particularly great orchestral accompanist.

12- What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

Practice but live. Enjoy the experience of everything around you. Have confidence in your own ability and the validity of your personal musical voice. The more you experience, the more this will develop.

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submission May 2019