Cat­a­lyst for mu­si­cal achieve­ments

The bi­en­nial OMWPA mu­sic pro­gramme held in Bri­tain con­tin­ues to spur ex­cel­lence in young mu­si­cians.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By WONG LI ZA [email protected]­tar.com.my

IT IS one thing to be tal­ented but tal­ent needs to be honed to spur ex­cel­lence.

And that is es­pe­cially true when it comes to mu­sic.

This year marks the 5th bi­en­nial Over­seas Malaysian Win­ter Pi­ano Academy (OMWPA), which will be held from Dec 16 to 23 at the pres­ti­gious Ye­hudi Menuhin School in Sur­rey, Eng­land. A to­tal of 25 stu­dents from Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong, se­lected via an au­di­tion process, will be at­tend­ing the pro­gramme.

The OMWPA was first es­tab­lished in 2010 by San­dakan-born, in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned con­cert pi­anist Bobby Chen, an alum­nus of the Ye­hudi Menuhin school.

Se­lected can­di­dates get the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence world-class mu­si­cal teach­ing ses­sions in a non-com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment, at­tend evening recitals given by some of the tu­tors as well as con­certs at the Royal Al­bert Hall, Royal Opera House or the Royal Fes­ti­val Hall.

At their grad­u­a­tion, the stu­dents will get to per­form at the Gala Con­cert at the Ye­hudi Menuhin Con­cert Hall.

Many of the past par­tic­i­pants have gone on to ex­cel in mu­sic, in­clud­ing be­ing ac­cepted into pres­ti­gious mu­sic schools abroad as well as win­ning in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.

One of them is Liew Sin Yee, 16, a par­tic­i­pant of OMWPA 2016 who started pi­ano lessons at the age of four.

She was a fi­nal­ist in both the 4th Stein­way Malaysia Youth Pi­ano Com­pe­ti­tion 2018 and the UCSI Univer­sity In­ter­na­tional Pi­ano Fes­ti­val 2018. She also got sec­ond place at the Tai­wan Cheer In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Com­pe­ti­tion (2015).

She found out about the OMWPA pro­gramme from some of her friends who were in the 2014 batch.

“The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence was truly amaz­ing as I met many young tal­ented mu­si­cians who shared a com­mon in­ter­est, at­tended lessons un­der ex­cel­lent tu­tors from pres­ti­gious mu­sic schools, and stayed in a beau­ti­ful, com­fort­able cam­pus with well-fur­nished fa­cil­i­ties. All these made me feel as if I were an ac­tual mu­sic stu­dent study­ing there!” re­lates Sin Yee.

She also got a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of mu­sic dur­ing the pro­gramme.

“Af­ter spend­ing a whole week at the camp, I learned that mu­sic isn’t about com­pet­ing and try­ing to com­pare our­selves to oth­ers. It’s far more im­por­tant to en­joy the jour­ney to­gether and to share the mu­sic we play with ev­ery­one.

“One of the tu­tors said, ‘The com­posers are the chefs, whereas we are the servers.’ Ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent way of pre­sent­ing the mu­sic com­posed a long time ago. As long as ev­ery­one gets to savour it, there’s no ab­so­lute man­ner in how a piece should be played,” she says.

In 2017, Sin Yee was se­lected as one of the first prize win­ners at the Golden Clas­si­cal Mu­sic Awards In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Com­pe­ti­tion and in­vited to per­form at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) in New York in Novem­ber that same year.

“I was re­ally sur­prised to win be­cause there were so many ca­pa­ble, tal­ented mu­si­cians world­wide and I didn’t think I would be cho­sen.

“I was a lit­tle ner­vous but also ex­cited as I walked onto the ma­jes­tic stage. Once I started play­ing, I felt more at ease and im­mersed my­self in the mu­sic.

“Af­ter the per­for­mance, I felt rather sad that it had ended so quickly, but also thank­ful that I was given such a won­der­ful chance to per­form there,” shares Sin Yee, who per­formed Danza de la Moza Donosa from Dan­zas Ar­genti­nas by Al­berto E. Gi­nastera.

To­day, she looks back at the per­for­mance as a source of in­spi­ra­tion in her pur­suit of mu­sic.

“It re­ally was a huge source of mo­ti­va­tion for me, and made me re­alise how much I loved per­form­ing.

“When­ever I feel frus­trated while prac­tis­ing, I think about that over­whelm­ing joy I get on the stage, and push my­self harder to im­prove my play­ing,” says Sin Yee.

An­other young tal­ented pi­anist and par­tic­i­pant of the OMWPA 2016 is Tan Jing Ern, 12, who started play­ing the pi­ano at age five.

In 2013, at age seven, she took home the sil­ver medal at the Asia Pi­ano Com­pe­ti­tion in Taipei, won the first prize at the Tainan Pi­ano Com­pe­ti­tion in Tai­wan in 2014, bagged first prize at the Thai­land In­ter­na­tional Chopin Com­pe­ti­tion (2015) and also first prize (Cat­e­gory 1) in the Malaysia Stein­way and Sons Pi­ano Com­pe­ti­tion in 2016.

She also won the Grand Prize Vir­tu­oso In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Com­pe­ti­tion in 2016, af­ter which she was in­vited to per­form at the Royal Al­bert Hall in Lon­don in De­cem­ber the same year and also at Carnegie Hall the fol­low­ing year.

“Those two ex­pe­ri­ences were awe­some. I felt lucky to have had the chance to per­form at the Royal Al­bert Hall and Carnegie Hall. I was quite ner­vous be­fore the per­for­mance, and very re­lieved when I fin­ished per­form­ing!” re­calls Jing Ern, who played Witches Dance by Ed­ward MacDow­ell.

Be­ing a par­tic­i­pant of the OMWPA 2016 is some­thing that she will al­ways re­mem­ber.

“I made a lot of new friends and had a great time there. I learnt a lot of new things from the masters. I also learnt how to be braver in speak­ing out and how to im­prove my pi­ano skills,” says Jing Ern, who also plays the vi­o­lin.

“Per­form­ing at the OMWPA con­cert was the most mem­o­rable mo­ment, as I think that what the masters taught us was used in that per­for­mance,” says Jing Ern, who hopes to be­come a con­cert pi­anist when she grows up.

Her mother Chuah Seah Hoon adds, “As Jing Ern had to play the reper­toires un­der a few ex­pe­ri­enced masters, she had more ideas on how a song could be played. It is also an eye-opener for Jing Ern to see a group of young mu­si­cians who were se­ri­ous in mu­sic and work­ing hard to­wards their dream.”

‘It re­ally was a huge source of mo­ti­va­tion for me, and made me re­alise how much I loved per­form­ing,’ says Sin Yee, a par­tic­i­pant of OMWPA 2016. — LIEW SIN YEE

Jing Ern out­side Carnegie Hall, New York, af­ter per­form­ing there last year. — CHUAH SEAH HOON

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