Winners Deliver Exceptional Performances At UCSI’s International Piano Festival And Competition

Winners deliver exceptional performances at UCSI’s International Piano Festival and Competition

KUALA LUMPUR: It took Koay Wan Ern five months of practice to polish her repertoire which included Chopin’s Etude in C Minor but it was an effort well spent for the piece won her the Best Etude Award in the Senior category at the 2nd International Piano Festival and Competition 2016 (IPFC). The 18-year-old is a Foundation in Music student at UCSI University and is only in her second semester. 

“Etudes are very technically difficult pieces so I did not expect to win, but I’m so happy I did!” Koay said. “I am grateful to my parents for their support and to my friends and teachers from UCSI, especially Ms Chee Su Yen.” 

This young lady joins the rank of winners at IPFC, organized by UCSI University’s Institute of Music where 116 contestants competed to place in four categories – Junior, Intermediate, Senior or Young Artist – and to win the Best Etude Award in each. The results were announced after an intense final round adjudicated by a distinguished panel of local and international musicians. 

“Overall, this year’s contestants have demonstrated an outstanding mastery of playing techniques, musicality and stage presence,” said Professor Dr P’ng Tean Hwa, Director of the Institute of Music. “I hope that they have all benefited immensely from this entire experience and that it would be of help to them as they continue to hone their skills and artistry.” 

Senior Professor Dato’ Dr Khalid Yusoff, UCSI University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, and Dr P’ng presented a total of 4 musical scholarships from the Institute of Music and RM10,800 in cash prizes to the winners. 

“I was excited when they announced my name but I was also shocked because the other contestants were very good," said Jarell Tang from Singapore who won first prize in the Intermediate category. Tang, although only 13 years old, is no stranger to competition. He has placed in several internationally-acclaimed competitions including American Protégé, Bradshaw & Buono and the Golden Key Music Festival. "I don’t know if I want to pursue a professional career in music but I definitely want to continue playing, to learn more new pieces and improve my techniques,” he said. 

“This competition has given me a lot of valuable experience that would help me to improve as an artist,” said Arthur Athan, 24, who placed second in the Young Artist category. The adjudicators elected not to award the first prize. “I’m also delighted to have the option of furthering my piano career with the music scholarship.” Athan hails from Australia and cites Russian pianists Evgeny Kissin and Nikolai Lugansky as his inspiration. 

Sponsored by Graceful Piano, the 6-day event began with a preliminary round on April 23, 2016 and proceeded with the semi-final and final rounds held from June 8 to 12, 2016. The contestants were aged between 7-25 years, 72 of whom were Malaysians and 44 from countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. 

“UCSI has created a great platform for musical exchange and communication in IPFC,” said Dr Lucas Wong. “Having judges and performers of different backgrounds and nationalities allows these young musicians to broaden their horizons and be inspired.” Of the contestants, he advised, “Keep doing wonderful things, keep exploring and keep performing.” 

"This event is truly a celebration of talent,” said Dato’ Dr Khalid. "The Institute of Music is the lynchpin in connecting talents with opportunities while simultaneously promoting music to the wider community, and I am heartened that it has facilitated yet another successful exchange.” 

The adjudicating panel for the final round was presided by Dr Peter Amstutz, Professor of Piano at West Virginia University; Professor Akira Imai, multi award-winning soloist and chamber musician; Dr Lucas Wong, accomplished performer and Assistant Professor of Piano at Soochow University School of Music in China; Dr Tan Siok Lian, Associate Professor of Piano at Miami University, Dr P’ng Tean Hwa, Professor and Director of UCSI’s Institute of Music; as well as Mr Loo Bang Hean and Dr Oh Yann Shie, who are both internationally-acclaimed Malaysian pianists. These illustrious adjudicators also presented seminars, masterclasses and recitals for the participants. 

The International Piano Festival and Competition aims to raise musical standards throughout the region by providing a platform for young pianists to receive constructive feedback from well-established international and local musicians as well as to gain performing experience. The inaugural festival and competition was held in 2014.