In the lead up to the 2021 Great Romantics Competition on September 26, we sat down with pianist Brian Luo, last year’s winners of the Elisabeth Murdoch Prize. We found out about his love for intimate performances and gathered some sound advice for this year’s hopefuls.
When did you start playing your instrument?
I was 5 when I started dabbling on the piano at weekends, but became really dedicated under my teacher in Adelaide when I was 8.
Who are your musical heroes?
My favourite pianists are Krystian Zimerman and Rafał Blechacz.
What was it like to win the 2020 Great Romantics Competition?
It was an amazing experience, and quite frankly, surreal at the time! I think I was most pleased with the fact that people enjoyed my playing, but also my ideas for the piece!
What has been your performance highlight so far?
I have performed at some great venues, however, I think I have really enjoyed the smaller concerts. I did a concert earlier this year at St Peter’s Church. It didn’t boast a huge audience, but I remember how warm and kind the atmosphere was. Moreover, unlike many events for classical musicians nowadays, I felt that my performance was being enjoyed, rather than scrutinised.
What pieces are you working on now? Most challenging aspects?
As of last week, I’ve actually just finished revising the program I have been working on for the last few months. I’m currently eagerly awaiting my teacher’s propositions regarding pieces, and maybe some youtube binging for a more interesting repertoire!
What do you like to do outside of practicing music?
I enjoy many things aside from music. I love reading through classics, playing chess, sports (especially soccer), but mostly hanging around with family!
Any advice for 2021 Great Romantics applicants?
It’s often difficult to predict outcomes, and everyone is bound to become disappointed. I believe that while hard-work and commitment are absolutely integral, one also needs to accept that there are many factors that are beyond your control. I think in music it is difficult to judge as there is no objective way of eliciting a clear result in the way a 100 metre sprint can for instance. My advice would be to practice your hardest and just enjoying sharing the music you have prepared so hard for the people who have come out deliberately to hear you.
Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday 18 August 2021 at midnight (AEST).
Please ensure you download and read the Competition Guidelines before completing your application.