Frank Huang, pianist

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

The decision to pursue a career in music—becoming a concert pianist and teaching at a university—seemed to happen naturally for me, almost as if I was answering a calling. It just felt right. Fortunately, my teacher and family were supportive of my decision. As I was growing up, I remember feeling the excitement in sharing music with others and being inspired to explore the vast repertoire for the piano—both of which continue to remain driving forces for my passion and motivation to this day!

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

I have been fortunate to receive such wonderful training and mentorship throughout the years. Having studied with Willard Schultz at The Academy of Music Northwest, Julian Martin at The Juilliard School, and Antonio Pompa-Bladi at The Cleveland Institute of Music, my teachers have shaped me to become the musician that I am today.

I have also been raised to have a strong work ethic. Being a successful musician requires passion, discipline, and patience. I would not have developed these qualities without the encouraging support of my parents.

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

Figuring out how to be a productive, contributing member of the classical music industry. Given that so many performing musicians, scholars, and educators have already provided so much, I believe that finding a niche market is more critical than ever.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

About a couple years ago, I shifted gears and began to specialise in the performance of lesser-known works and music of our time. As I alluded to in my previous response, I was led to this change because I wanted to provide a different perspective to an industry that contained countless recordings and performances of standard repertory available in a variety of formats. Through my projects, I aim to provide advocacy for works that have been neglected by the public. and encourage future generations of musicians to continue to explore music of forgotten composers – who knows what they will find during this discovery process! To that end, I recently embarked on a recording project (nine discs) of the complete solo piano music of forgotten Russian romantic composer, Nikolai Medtner.

I am also particularly proud of learning and performing Frederic Rzewski’s monumental work, “The People United Will Never be Defeated!” (1976). Based on a popular Chilean protest song, this sixty-minute work for solo piano is considered to be one of the most influential pieces written during our time.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Lately, I would have to say that I feel a natural connection with Nikolai Medtner. For me, something about his harmonic language and the way he writes for the piano seems to “click” for me. Other composers where I feel that I share a similar affinity include Messiaen, Brahms, and Mozart. Ultimately though, it is my job as a performing musician to make any piece sound natural to the audience!

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

This is always a challenge for me because I have so many different interests and it becomes difficult to fit them all in a season! As I mentioned before, I have my Medtner project, so I am constantly building repertoire there and performing his music regularly. I also enjoy performing standard repertory in various settings – solo, chamber music, and concerti. Additionally, I am very much interested in the promotion of new music and other diverse projects. Last year, I performed and recorded chamber music by living American women composers, featuring works by Lera Auerbach and Jennifer Higdon—it was an enjoyable break from all of my other projects!

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

Not really. For me, the most important things are what I am playing, who I am playing with, and how my playing was received by the audience.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I have so many musicians that I admire. Krystian Zimerman and Radu Lupu were (and still are) my childhood idols. Stephen Hough is another that comes to mind—his wonderful playing, charismatic personality, and his diverse activities as a composer and writer are all excellent traits to emulate. Emanuel Ax is a beautiful pianist too.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

When I was a young teenager, I had the exciting opportunity to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E flat Major, K. 482 with an orchestra in Peru. When I arrived to rehearse, the conductor began with the opening tutti…except it was the other E flat concerto! As the orchestra was playing, I sat there for a few seconds as I was having panicking thoughts. Maybe this was a cruel joke? How should I tell the conductor that he got the wrong concerto?

After telling him that about the mixup, the conductor told methat he needed to order the instrumental parts, and hoped that they would arrive in time for the concert, which was scheduled for only a few days later.

Needless to say, I was panicking and had entertained the thought of trying to learn the other concerto in case if the scores did not arrive in time. Thankfully, the music came hours before the concert and I had a chance to rehearse briefly with the orchestra. I don’t really remember how I played, but I recall that I was quite nervous!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

As a performing musician and educator, I define success as having the ability to connect with audiences, irrespective of their backgrounds and experiences, and make classical music relevant to everyone. There is a story behind every composer and work—it is our duty as performers to remind the public that the music we devote so much time in practicing is filled with emotion and life. Recently, I started a blog on my website as a way to reach out to a wider audience beyond my immediate influence to students as a Professor of Piano at Miami University (Ohio).

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

Being a professional musician is not all about winning major international competitions and having an active concert schedule. That, of course, is a result of hard work and talent. But the most important requirements in pursuing music as a career are possessing the unwavering passion and commitment to studyand constantly develop one’s craft. This especially holds truewhen one may have fewer concerts/engagements in a particular season. Unlike other occupations, we cannot be motivated to work hard only when we have an impending deadline. Studying music is a lifelong journey, and even though the ride can be treacherous at times, we have to be resilient and find ways to galvanize ourselves to be constant learners, regardless of the circumstance. I always live by the quote: “music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” —Sergei Rachmaninoff


Frank Huang is an Assistant Professor of Piano at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Previously, he served as a faculty member at The College of Wooster and The Cleveland Institute of Music.

Described by New York Concert Review as a “thoughtful and accomplished performer” and that his playing was “impressive for its maturity and refinement,” Mr. Huang has gained international recognition for his artistry and technical command. Others have also acknowledged his talents, as the Chopin Foundation of the United States, Northwest Chapter has commented that “Huang plays with authority and panache” while El Comerico of Lima, Peru praised his interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto, K.482 “with the utmost sensitivity.” Mr. Huang’s performances have led him throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Such notable venues include Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall, Benaroya Hall (Seattle), US Embassy in Warsaw, Zelazowa Wola (Warsaw), Gijon International Piano Festival (Spain), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Holland Music Sessions, Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Dame Myra Recital Series at Chicago’s Cultural Center, Lincoln Center in New York, and St. Martin in the Fields, London, UK. Mr. Huang’s concerts have also been featured on radio and television broadcasts in various cities across the United States and abroad. Most recently, his performances were aired on “Primo Movimento,” a popular classical music program on RaiRadio 3 in Rome, Italy. An avid chamber musician, he also enjoys performing with others as he has collaborated with members of the Cleveland Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in recitals. Equally active as a soloist with orchestra, he has performed with the Sammamish Symphony, Northwest Philharmonia, Peru National Symphony, and Wooster Symphony Orchestra. Recent engagements included a tour in South Korea and China, where Mr. Huang performed at the University of Ulsan (South Korea) and Sichuan Normal University, as well as soloist with the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra.

Recent highlights include solo performances at The PianoForte Foundation (Chicago), Reinhardt Piano Festival and Academy (Georgia), and Southwest Piano Festival (New Mexico). Upcoming engagements include a guest appearance as soloist with the Central Ohio Symphony.

Huang’s recordings can be found on the Centaur Records and Nimbus Alliance labels. Recently, Huang released two recordings, Jack Gallagher: Piano Music and Johannes Brahms: Selected Piano Music, in spring 2017. Both recordings have already received rave reviews as critics have described Dr. Huang’s performances as “thrilling” (The Classical Reviewer) and that “Huang deserves kudos for his sparkling and sensitive playing, and that better performances of these works would be well-nigh impossible to come by.” (Fanfare) Soon-to-be-released albums include a chamber music disc of American women composers and volume one of the complete solo piano music of Nikolai Medtner.

Mr. Huang’s creative interests consist of promoting works that are less frequently performed and music of our time. He has performed and recorded music of Mark Applebaum, Augusta Read Thomas, and Jack Gallagher. Recently, he has been performing Frederic Rzewski’s monumental work, “The People United Will Never be Defeated!” in recitals.

As a prize winner of several important international competitions, Mr. Huang has garnered awards at the World International Piano Competition, The International Artists Competition, and Artists International Auditions.

A native of Seattle, WA, Frank Huang studied extensively with Willard Schultz at the Academy of Music Northwest before obtaining Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, where he continued his studies with Julian Martin. Following his training at Juilliard, he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Cleveland Institute of Music under the direction of Antonio Pompa-Baldi. Other influential teachers included Lee Kum-Sing, Robert McDonald, Daniel Shapiro, and Dominique Weber. Huang has also participated in masterclasses with eminent musicians of our time including Nelita True, Byron Janis, Jon Kimura Parker, Richard Goode, and Murray Perahia.

Equally dedicated as a music educator, Dr. Huang feels privileged to share his knowledge with students who are passionate about music.  At Miami University, he teaches piano, chamber music, and various literature courses. Dr. Huang has been invited to present master classes in various institutions across the United States as well as an adjudicator at local piano competitions and auditions. 

For more information, please visit and like Frank Huang’s Facebook page to communicate with him. 

frankhuangpiano.com

 

 

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