Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Zhang Haochen's Piano Workshop

SCO Singapore Conference Hall

Wednesday (20 July 2011)

Zhang Haochen is the most recent 1st prize winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (which he shared with Nobuyuki Tsujii in 2009). His piano workshop was just a modest name for a two-and-a-half-hour long masterclass with young students of the School of Young Talents of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. At just 21, he would be still be attending masterclasses himself, but here he was more like your friendly elder brother who is more than happy to teach you a trick or two.

Fighting a cold, Zhang was initially inhibited, peppering his session with "ums" and "ahems", but soon he got into the spirit of things. Speaking in American-accented English, he is comfortable in the role of a mentor, often taking the trouble to explain how he approaches the music as well as playing examples on the piano. Even in repertoire new to him, he was able to discern subtleties by perusing the score, and sharing these with the five young students. One of the things he garnered from his lessons with Gary Graffman was the ability to teach himself (as opposed to merely follow), and he did try to impart this most important aspect of learning to his charges. That is the first step to musical mastery (and hopefully win competitions along the way).

10-year-old Kennis Ang played the 1st movement from Beethoven's Sonata Op.79.

Zhang shows Joel Tan (10) how to vary dynamics in Khachaturian's Toccata.

Haochen leads by example for Nicole Ong (12) in Haydn's Sonata in E flat major.

Elysia Widjaja (15) plays Chopin's Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise.

Soh Kuan Wai (15) applies the polish to Granados' Allegro de Concierto, while Zhang Haochen demonstrates some of the finer points.

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