Young MAS­TERS

From Mozart to Lang Lang, child prodi­gies con­tinue to amaze au­di­ences the world over. Ah­mad Azrai at­tends a mas­ter­class in the Lion City.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Junior -

rédéric Chopin, the Pol­ish com­poser who gave us the most del­i­cate pi­ano com­po­si­tions, was one. As was China’s Yuja Wang, who started at Bei­jing’s Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic at seven and was a star pi­anist by 21, renowned for her emo­tive style. Musical child prodi­gies, are that select group of in­di­vid­u­als who, from a young age – by strict def­i­ni­tion 12 or un­der – ex­hibit such skill and tal­ent so as to as­tound their older coun­ter­parts.

In Sin­ga­pore, three tal­ented for­mer child prodi­gies re­cently con­ducted mas­ter­classes for young­sters cul­mi­nat­ing in a one-night-only con­cert by the Young Mu­si­cians’ Foun­da­tion Orches­tra, un­der the ba­ton of con­duc­tor Dar­rell Ang. Called Syn­ergy in Mu­sic 2013, it was pre­sented by global en­ergy com­pany Gazprom, and the trio of Rus­sian soloists were vi­o­lin­ist Alena Baeva, cel­list Alexan­der Bu­zlov, and clar­inetist Valentin Uryupin.

Hail­ing from a fam­ily of mu­si­cians, Baeva be­gan play­ing the vi­o­lin at the ten­der age of five and hasn’t stopped since. In­vited by late cel­list Mstislav Rostropovich to in­tern in France in 2003, she has worked with the leg­endary Ida Haen­del, among oth­ers. She grad­u­ated from the Moscow Con­ser­va­tory in 2007, and was given per­mis­sion to use a Stradi­var­ius vi­o­lin on loan from the Rus­sian State Col­lec­tion of Unique Musical In­stru­ments, which she still plays to this day.

In di­rect con­trast, Bu­zlov be­came the first mu­si­cian in his fam­ily. His stud­ies at the Moscow Con­ser­va­tory un­der the tute­lage of Na­talia Gut­man has come full cir­cle; he now teaches at his alma mater and is an as­sis­tant to his own teacher. A keen col­lab­o­ra­tor and still an ac­tive win­ner of nu­mer­ous com­pe­ti­tions, Bu­zlov has been hailed by The New York Times as a cel­list of the true Rus­sian tra­di­tion.

Last but cer­tainly not least, Uryupin was sent from his na­tive Ukra­nian town of Lo­zo­vaja by his mother to the Moscow Con­ser­va­tory, where he stud­ied un­der Pro­fes­sor Evgeny Petrov and the Peo­ple’s Artist of the USSR, con­duc­tor Gen­nady Rozhdestven­sky. In the run-up to the con­cert, the trio con­ducted mas­ter­classes for stu­dents from all over the world, in­clud­ing Saba­han cel­list Stephen Tseu Tze Jie. Dur­ing his ses­sion with Tseu, Bu­zlov

Yamaha Mu­sic School 8 Jalan Per­ban­daran, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-7803 0900.

Bent­ley Mu­sic Academy Wisma Bent­ley Mu­sic, 3 Jalan PJU 7/2, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-7727 3333. SEEK THE BEST A good teacher will be able to recog­nise prodigy tal­ent, and will know how to deal with it based on their ob­ser­va­tions of the child. LET THE CHILD BE A CHILD Musical prodi­gies are chil­dren too, and need the same de­vel­op­men­tal strate­gies. En­sure a bal­anced sched­ule with ex­er­cise and fun. GOOD BOOKS Good Mu­sic, Brighter Chil­dren: Sim­ple and Prac­ti­cal Ideas to Help Trans­form Your Child’s Life Through the Power of Mu­sic by Shar­lene Haber­meyer; How to Grow a Young Mu­sic Lover by Cheri Fuller. im­parted prac­ti­cal ad­vice on tech­nique, in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and style, of­ten di­rectly demon­strat­ing what he meant.

The night of the con­cert, all were en­tranced as the orches­tra played the riv­et­ing overture to Beethoven’s The Crea­tures of Prometheus. Baeva’s take on Men­delssohn’s “Vi­o­lin Con­certo in E Mi­nor” turned out to be an amaz­ing bal­ance of power and del­i­cacy. Her exquisitely light touches were ably backed by a ro­bust sound when nec­es­sary, and she gave a spir­ited per­for­mance that was not overly sen­ti­men­tal.

Uryupin lit­er­ally took ev­ery­one’s breath away with a stun­ning per­for­mance of We­ber’s “Clar­inet Con­certo No. 1” that was both lively and flaw­less. But it was the tones and sounds – beau­ti­fully whole and crys­tal clear – that proved his met­tle as a world-class clar­inetist.

Fi­nally, Bu­zlov per­formed his ren­di­tion of Saint-Saëns’s “Cello Con­certo No. 1”, full of pas­sion, emo­tion, and ex­cite­ment. He dis­played su­perb con­trol, with econ­omy of fin­ger and arm move­ment that pro­duced gor­geous con­tin­u­ous sounds. Suf­fice it to say, Bu­zlov had the en­tire au­di­ence in the palm of his hands.

MU­SIC & YOUR CHILD

HOW TO EN­COUR­AGE AN EARLY IN­TER­EST IN MU­SIC Let them lis­ten to as many dif­fer­ent styles as pos­si­ble, though you should al­ways mon­i­tor this carefully. Try not to im­pose your own mu­sic pref­er­ences, and let them ex­plore and dis­cover what they like best. MU­SIC SCHOOLS

Young Choral Academy 114A, Jalan Burhanud­din Helmi, Ta­man Tun Dr Is­mail, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-7726 469.1

Alena Baeva (in red) plays with the Young Mu­si­cian’s Foun­da­tion Orches­tra helmed by Sin­ga­porean con­duc­tor Dar­rell Ang

Stephen Tseu (left), the only Malaysian se­lected for the master class, re­ceiv­ing cri­tique from Alexan­der Bu­zlov

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