Lucille Chung, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

I have the vague memory of asking my non-musical parents to buy me a piano ever since I was two. Perhaps it was a live telecast of Arthur Rubinstein or even Liberace (!) that sparked my interest in the piano? It’s hard to say but I remember being mesmorised by the 88 keys of the keyboard ever since…

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Maria Curcio-Diamand, who was Arthur Schnabel’s favourite pupil, was my first great mentor. She opened my ears and heart to the art of sound and technique.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I think my biggest challenge has turned into an asset. When people see a photo of me, they don’t expect me to play all the works of Ligeti!

You will be performing this summer at the Incontri in Terra di Siena – what makes this Italian festival so special?

The magical setting with its fascinating history is unparalleled. It is not a surprise the festival has attracted such an illustrious list of wonderful musicians who come together to make beautiful music.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

When I was a teenager, Charles Dutoit brought me on tour to Korea with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. I felt proud representing my country of birth (Canada) in my parents’ homeland.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Haha, that’s a difficult question to answer… I have a few works that I feel particularly close to, that have lived inside me for a long time such as Schumann Fantasiestücke Op. 12 and Liszt Sonata in B minor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything…

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Like a varied menu in a restaurant, I try to have a progression in styles and evoke different moods. Nowadays, it’s a combination of older repertoire as well as newly learned works.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I recently performed at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and it was a dream come true. Visually, it was stunning and so encompassing, and yet I felt very connected to the 2,500 audience members.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Alessio Bax, of course! I also recently heard the recent winner of the Chopin Piano Competition, Seong-Jin Cho, and I was just so amazed. Martha Argerich, Grigory Sokolov and Carlos Kleiber are on my favourite list.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I once heard Mirella Freni as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin live at the Met Opera. I was cheering on my feet for over 20 minutes and didn’t want to leave!

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

To love what you are doing, always be flexible and inquisitive and not be afraid.

What is your most treasured possession?

Does my daughter, Mila, count???

Lucille Chung performs at the Incontri in Terra di Siena chamber music festival this July. Further information here

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