Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
I was born into a musical family, my mum teaches piano and my dad plays and teaches the dombra, which is Kazakhstan’s national instrument. The piano was my choice straight away. Both of my brothers are violinists, my mum tried to insist on cello for my youngest brother so we could have a trio, but he refused to carry it. He saved a lot on airplane tickets!
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
There are quite a few!! I have to mention my dearest friend Sergei Babayan whom I met in 2007 during his International Piano Academy. Having lessons with him was like a breath of fresh air.
Andrey Ponochevny is another friend whom I admire very much, he’s a true and honest musician. Finally of course there were my great professors at the Royal Academy of Music, I was lucky to study with Christopher Elton, Hamish Milne and Kathryn Stott.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think 2008 was the toughest year. I began my Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music. It was an exciting time and I was passionate about my lessons. But financially it was very difficult; London is so expensive and it’s probably even more difficult for students now. At one point, I had just £3 in my account! I remember there was an advert for a gig at the Wallace Collection where they needed a harpsichord trio, so I emailed them and said: “I have a harpsichord trio”, which I didn’t!! I then booked a room with the harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music, found a violinist and a cellist, rehearsed and we went and performed there!
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Last year I released my debut solo album ‘Mazurkas from Chopin to Adès’, which was recorded with the amazing producer Andrew Keener at Kings Place. I’m very grateful to everyone involved in the process and was so happy to receive an encouraging e-mail from Thomas Adès after he listened to the recording. Hopefully there will be another release soon, watch this space!
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
Difficult to judge, I guess it depends on the day. I get positive feedback on Haydn and Prokofiev which is always nice. Haydn was Prokofiev’s favourite after all.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
Ideally it’s the repertoire I love, that’s my first choice. Sometimes there are requests from the organisers, for example my husband Gamal Khamis and I have played Schubert’s F minor Fantasy quite a few times by now. But I adore that piece and I’m happy to play it again and again. This year I went to IMS Prussia Cove as a class pianist for the violin masterclasses with Gerhard Schulz and played nine different sonatas plus other pieces with talented violinists across the world. That was fantastic!
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building and Holywell Music Room in Oxford both have a special feel – they were the first places I played in England and I’ve returned there many times. Hall One in Kings Place has an amazing acoustic. Mixon Hall in Cleveland has huge windows on stage and I remember seeing a thunderstorm while playing Bach-Busoni Chaconne.
Who are your favourite musicians?
There are so many! Arthur Rubinstein, Maria Callas, Mstislas Rostropovich. I rarely miss Daniil Trifonov’s concerts in London, and I’m also a fan of the pianist Alasdair Beatson, he has a great personality and I adore his playing. I love playing with my brothers Ordabek and Ilyas, and of course Alessandro Ruisi with whom I’ve worked for the last 3 years. We have a few performances planned with the Ruisi String Quartet. Christopher Richards, LSO principal clarinetist is amazing, so talented and humble.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
A couple of years ago I was part of the ‘Mozart and his letters’ fundraising concert and we shared the stage of Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, RCM with actors, it was great fun!
As a listener, I’ll never forget Menahem Pressler and Christoph Pregardien performing ‘Winterreise’ during the Oxford Piano Festival. Also the first time I heard Martha Argerich playing Ravel Concerto live.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Finding a teacher is so important, it’s the student’s job to find the right one, not vice versa. Learn as much repertoire as possible, you will need it later. I know many students don’t like sight-reading but that will be useful, too. As a child I used to sight-read a lot! Don’t be shy – when I moved to London, I wouldn’t take out my music on public transport but now I use traveling time to study the piece, make notes etc.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I just want to be happy with what I have then.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It’s the freedom to do whatever you want. Family, friends, music, travel, good food and wine, nice clothes, niche perfume…Is that too much to ask?
What is your most treasured possession?
I wish I could say my grand piano but it doesn’t belong to me.
Dina Duisen was born into a family of musicians in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Her father plays the Kazakh national instrument, the Dombra, and her mother is a piano teacher – both parents teach at the Kazakh National Academy of Music in Astana. At the age of five, Dina started studying piano at Kulyash Bayseitova State Special School for Gifted Children together with her two brothers Ordabek and Ilyas, who are both violinists. By the age of thirteen she had made her debut with the Symphony Orchestra. After graduating from school, Dina continued her studies at the Kazakh National Academy of Music, graduating with distinction in 2005, before being awarded a full scholarship on the Artist Diploma programme at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, from which she graduated in 2008. At the same time, Dina was invited to work as a teacher of music at the Texas Wesleyan University. In September 2008, Dina started studying for the new Master of Arts Degree in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, under the tutelage of Christopher Elton, Hamish Milne and Kathryn Stott, and graduated with distinction in 2011.
More at www.dinaduisen.com