In preparing for this interview, I listened to your podcast interview with Lew Smoley of Classical Podcasts. It’s an excellent interview not only because it seemed that Mr. Smoley understood and appreciated your work both as an artist and an advocate for classical music, but because I heard, in your voice and your way of speaking, how this work is so necessary and vital to who you are as a person. From this interview, I learned that during your live performances, you include some commentary about what the pieces you have chosen to play mean to you (like “little poems,” you said, which I really like). And as I listened to your album, I wondered about how instead of liner notes it might have been interesting to actually hear you speak in between the pieces on the album. I know that sounds a little jarring to my more experienced classical music readers/listeners, but I’d argue that after hearing you speak, I felt a deeper connection to your performance. Do you think classical music has lost some of that ability to engage with an audience, especially as music and audiences have changed? In what other ways do you hope to break down some of the barriers (or perhaps performance “rules” or expectations) that may hinder your engagement with an audience?
I think classical music was always, always there. What changed is us. Inevitably! For me, as a musician, as a pianist, my mission is that without cheating the core, of staying true to the content of classical music, but wearing the contemporary clothing so that people can really get a little closer to this classical music, to the beauty of it. I think that is basically my mission as a pianist: I want to bring people of the other corner to this corner. Some audiences commented that I am like a gateway drug to classical music [Laughs]. I guess that’s a good thing! Classical musicians, we are often our own worst enemy in the way that we’re supposed to do this and we’re supposed to do that, clap this way, you shouldn’t build a program without certain movements because it has to be a set, etc. We’re living within the rules and I think it’s really—especially with people who actually have a higher degree, which most musicians do—hard to break out of those rules.Read More