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Canadian pianist to compete in international piano competition semifinals

Canadian pianist to compete in international piano competition semifinals

Avan Yu has been playing piano since he was five years old. In fact, he had his first piano lesson on his fifth birthday.

Twenty years later, Yu is one of 10 pianists advancing to the semifinals in the Honens International Piano Competition. Yu says it's an honour to take part in the contest.

"It's something that I'm very excited about," says Yu, 25, in an interview. "It's a very prestigious competition."

Yu's passion for playing the piano began long before he knew about the competition.

"I always wanted to play the piano," he says. "It was always something that I enjoyed."

Yu began studying privately with piano teachers and even though he didn't attend a high school for musicians, he continued his studies outside of school. It wasn't until he left his home in Vancouver five years ago that he started studying music in school.

He's spent the last five years majoring in music at the Berlin University of the Arts and is working towards his master's degree in music.

Yu was one of 125 musicians who applied for this year's competition. The jury narrowed the group to 50 applicants for the quarterfinals. After auditioning in the quarterfinals with a 40-minute solo that was recorded by the jury in Berlin, Yu was chosen once more to advance to the semifinals.

As the competition draws nearer, Yu says there's no way to tell what will happen.

"Of course we all hope (to win) and having not heard anybody else, it was hard for me to tell (how I'd do)," he says. "I just tried my best and when the results come, the results come."

Despite the fact that Yu is competing against nine other people for the top prize, he doesn't see the process as a competition.

"They really treat it more like a piano festival than a competition," he says. "We are there to perform. We're not there as competitors."

Still, he's practising for the semifinals on a daily basis. He's currently working on his one-hour solo piece. The second component in the semifinals is an ensemble performance with a cellist, violinist and singer.

The semifinals will be held in Calgary from October 17 to 26. If Yu advances to the finals, he will be one of five musicians performing a concerto with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and its musical director.

The winner of the competition will receive a $100,000 cash prize and an artistic and career development program.

While the cash is sure to entice, Yu says the winner also gets to perform in different cities around the world, which would make him most happy.

But having the extra money to put toward his musical career wouldn't hurt.

"In the world of music, we all need somebody to help manage our careers," says Yu. "The fact that the competition is offering to do that is really great."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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