Recently Abilene Philharmonic staff conducted an interview with pianist and guest star of our upcoming season opener, “Concerto Serenades”. Here’s what he had to say.
If you were not a musician what would you be doing?
That’s a really difficult question because it’s difficult for me to imagine a life without music! I think I’d most likely be working as an engineer or in business, since those are some of my hobbies now!
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes in many forms for me – nature, people, food (really!), movies, words, and of course, great music. Hearing live performances is always an incredible experience for me. Honestly, I think inspiration is all around us, we just have to be open to see and feel it!
What is your favorite food?
I generally eat everything! I’ve really been into poke bowls lately – I think it’s hawaiian? It’s raw fish and rice mixed with vegetables and various toppings. I’m also always down for a hearty ribeye. I’ve been trying to eat more healthy recently though…so less burgers and fries, more salads and fruits and less oil. It’s a little rough.
So far, where has been your favorite place to perform?
It’s hard for me to pick a single place. It’s so amazing for me to get to travel to all these new places to share my music and I feel like it’s weird to pick and choose! I always love performing in Japan – I go there quite a bit and they have a reverence for music that I really respect. Texas is always a great state – everybody is always so warm and to be back to my roots (where the Cliburn was) is special for me.
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to perform more in Europe! I’m always taken by the incredible scenery, setting, and history.
Who is your favorite musician?
I think it’s difficult to pick just one musician…from the huge list of pianists that I admire, one would have to be Grigory Sokolov. His dedication to the music and performance is something that I really admire. There are, of course, many other musicians other than pianists that I love, such as Janine Jansen, Truls Mork, Brentano String Quartet, to name a few.
Who has been your biggest role model and what piece of advice has been the most useful?
My parents! I am forever grateful for them – they always said that the journey is often more valuable than the destination and to always value family. Two things that remained very true and constant in my life!
In your own words, can you describe Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, the pieces that will be performed on September 22nd.
In a few words…I’d say the Bartók is the work of an old man, reflecting on all the work he did as an ethnomusicologist in his youth. The Chopin on the other hand is a work of youth, though mature beyond his years. I’m really excited!!
What are you looking forward to most at the performance with the Abilene Philharmonic?
I’m so excited to be working with Maestro Itkin and the Abilene Philharmonic. The Chopin Concerto is one of my favorite concertos for piano and getting to work on it has been a real joy. I can’t wait!