Classical maestro comes to town
When 25-year-old concert pianist Avan Yu arrives at the venue for his next performance he looks for three things.
“For me, what I love is a hall with beautiful acoustics, a responsive piano and a great audience,” Avan says.
“When these three things happen together, it is fortunate.”
Avan, who lives in Vancouver, started playing piano when he was five years old just for fun and never realised it would take him to the great concert halls of the world.
To date he has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Nocional Auditorio De Musica in Madrid, and the Salle Cortot in Paris.
He has also won myriad competitions, his latest win being the Sydney International Piano Competition.
Avan says he tries to see competitions as concerts, which he enjoys, and that helps him relax.
Like all musicians of such stature, much of his time when he is not on tour is spent practising his instrument; up to eight hours every day.
“I think the key is always to find something to think about that you can improve upon, and strive to play the piece better than the last time,” he says.
“Then the rehearsing becomes more interesting.”
Avan’s repertoire is classical on tour but for his private pleasure, he loves to play some jazz.
“I really like Oscar Peterson, and find playing jazz very relaxing,” he says.
It is something he would like to investigate further some day, maybe playing jazz piano on the side of his classical repertoire.
But for now Avan has plenty more concerts to play and classical music to find. He always looks for new pieces but says that most of the pieces he plays have been around for hundreds of years.
“You have to have a good balance,” he says about devising his concerts.
“You want a program that people really enjoy and the pieces have to relate to each other in the program.
“A good example is it’s like a menu; you don’t want all the dishes to be heavy and they must progress through the meal. When you start a program, one piece logically leads on to the next piece and the next.”
For his concert on Tuesday, August 21, at Cairns Civic Theatre, Avan has included many pieces by Claude Debussy as August 22 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the French composer.
The program also includes the works of Chopin, Schumann and Liszt. Avan’s inspirations are many but he particularly likes American composer Leonard Bernstein and Yo Yo Ma.
Although he is powering through the pianist world, Avan likes to keep everything in his life in perspective.
“Piano playing can become very narrow,” he says. “I have a broad interest in music and life.”
Avan’s outside interests include food and travel, which fit in well with his concert-touring lifestyle.
“Where I go I see what’s special about the food,” he says. “I also like photography.”
Avan Yu will play at Cairns Civic Theatre on August 21 at 7.30pm. Tickets $35. To book, visit www.ticketlink.com.au or ph: 1300 855 835. He will play at Innisfail Shire Hall on August 22 at 7pm. Tickets $20 and available from council offices in Cardwell, Tully and Innisfail.
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