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The HIPCC jury at the semi-finals

The HIPCC jury at the semi-finals

Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky ?

Maybe it’s the two day final, or maybe its all that Prokofiev but there are apparently  seats available for Saturday and you’d be crazy to miss out if you can get down to the White Rock, writes David Pullen. On the Saturday evening Final, it is between Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.

Ke Ma at the semi-Finals

Ke Ma at the semi-Finals

What a wonderful atmosphere tonight – given that it’s only the first half of the final and had an all Prokofiev programme – apart from the Beethoven overture at the beginning. The White Rock was buzzing.

Now Chris, my editor, and I have been embarrassed by the fact that we struggle, whether in photos, on the stage, or in the foyer to tell one young Asian woman from another, and this final has four from an initial field of twelve. Shows how much you rely on hair length and colour and size to differentiate. But that is our problem, not theirs, because they are very different when they play that Yamaha piano, and tonight we had very different versions of Prokofiev 3 from Michelle Nam and Tsu-Yin Huang. Both full of confidence and stage presence.

Eric Zuber at the Semi-Finals

Eric Zuber at the Semi-Finals

We old codgers in the sandwich generation have difficulty recognising our own mothers, when confronted with a sea of elderly faces and white hair in the old people’s home!

Between the two young women the Canadian Samuel Deason seemed completely at ease tackling Prokofiev 2 with its insane 10 minute cadenza.

We are so lucky to have such really talented artists, who all have active careers in their own countries, coming to Hastings for ten days, with no certainty that they will leave with anything beyond a lot of applause.

Tomorrow  there are three more, equally brilliant future stars giving us not just the Prokofiev 2&3 again , but the ever poplular Tchaikovsky – and the result.

Get a ticket before it’s too late!

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition Finals – Six finalists perform their complete concertos from Stage 1 over two evenings with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at the White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JX.

Friday 4 March 6.50 for 7pm
Saturday 5 March 5.50 for 6pm

Tickets £15 or at Hastings Tourist Information Centre, Aquila House. 01424 451111

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition: 25 February-5 March

The Finalists

Michelle Nam at the Semi-Finals

Michelle Nam at the Semi-Finals

Michelle Nam
Pianist Michelle Yelin Nam recently gave a twenty city Canadian tour throughout Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. Her piano trio appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. Nam moved to Kansas City to pursue her DMA at UMKC. She completed an Artist Diploma from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Phillip Kawin and Previously completed her Master’s degree at the Juilliard School.

Samuel Deason
Canadian pianist Samuel Deason’s recent orchestral engagements have included concerti by Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Liszt-Busoni, Shostakovich, and Gershwin with

Samuel Deason at the Semi-Finals

Samuel Deason at the Semi-Finals

the Fort Worth, Saskatoon, Regina Symphony Orchestras. Teachers include Menahem Pressler, Marc Durand – he currently studies with Boris Slutsky at the Peabody Institute.

Tzu-Yin Huang
Tzu-Yin Huang is an outstanding solo performer, as well as a sensitive chamber musician. Currently she is doing her doctoral degree at the University of Michigan

Tzu-yin Huang at the Semi-Finals

Tzu-yin Huang at the Semi-Finals

studying with Prof. Louis Nagel. Miss Huang believes that sharing music with her true heart and joy enables her to touch people’s souls. This is the secret to being a music magician!

Ke Ma
Ke Ma was introduced to piano from a very young age in China. She currently studies in the Royal Academy of Music with Professor Christopher Elton. She looks forward to performing her London debut concert in 2016 supported by Kirckman Concert Society.

Jung Eun Severine Kim at the Semi-Finals

Jung Eun Severine Kim at the Semi-Finals

Eric Zuber
Eric Zuber has established himself as one of the leaders of a new generation of American pianism. He emerged on the international scene after winning major prizes at the Arthur Rubinstein, Cleveland, Dublin and Sydney International Piano Competitions,  and has since performed all over the globe.

Jung Eun Severine Kim
A Student of Prof. Bernd Goetzke, in Germany. She made her debut recital at the age of 10. She has won numerous top awards and prizes at National, International Competitions, given recitals and concerts with Orchestras in Japan, Germany, USA, France, Holland and Great Britain.

Posted 11:18 Saturday, Mar 5, 2016 In: Piano Concerto Competition diary

6 Comments


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  1. David

    As I wrote the article that Chandra Masoliver objected to so strongly, and thus am directly responsible for creating an acrimonious correspondence between Chris Cormack and Steph Grant, I’d like, now, to respond after an interval of two weeks.

    As the editor of my blogs, Chris took it upon himself to both apologize for the article as being “racist” in modern parlance, and added a paragraph to my original which referred to us both as “old codgers”. Both of which he did, I assume, to cool tempers and avoid what then happened anyway.

    So as neither of these concessions reflect my own view then or now, and as Chris has now resigned from HOT over this episode I feel I have the right to speak for myself i.e. reinstate the original article which did not have the paragraph about old codgers not recognizing their own mothers (see below).Nor do I think it in any way racist – a serious, criminal charge by the way.

    Despite having plenty of time to reread it, I still fervently believe that honestly stating that our (MY) difficulty in differentiating between similar looking, sounding or behaving people, could indeed become a matter of embarrassing regret – but it was openly and honestly acknowledged and so is manifestly not a statement, or indication, of values which were racist, sexist or ageist.

    The implicit assumption behind the criticisms seems to be that when in doubt you should either say nothing or pretend that you do not have a problem, and that if you are writing about music you should not stray off onto other topics. However, my brief was to write a daily blog around the experience of being at the competition, which I took to mean that it should be nearer to a “stream of consciousness” than a music review, and so once this issue of putting names to photos came up I decided to use it even though I knew that it was an acknowledged minefield, and so was careful to make it quite explicit in the blog that Chris and I were deeply embarrassed by our inability to differentiate, because that was the case; and I am certain that many others were struggling with this as well. My “error” was to articulate a widespread problem that like so many embarrassments in life many other people clearly believe should be ignored or denied. The link with the music was also quite explicit and justified,I felt, why I had raised it – namely that once they were being pianists, the way they sat and moved, the approach to playing the instrument and their concept of the music meant that I had no difficulty in “seeing” who they were. One of the curiousities of meeting performers that you have just seen on stage is that they often look far less imposing face to face than you felt them to be on stage. Anyway that is only one small element in the mix that has created this current dispute.

    Now for the record, I did indeed, when in my thirties(not an old codger) find it embarrassing that I could not recognize my own mother when she was taken into hospital at the end of a terrible illness shortly before her death. At about the same time, in another Hastings hospital ward, my wife was handed the “wrong” baby shortly after giving birth to our first daughter and attempted to feed it, to the enragement of its actual mother who insisted that “She must have known it wasn’t her baby”. H

    Got it Steph? – that is what not differentiating people can lead to. It can be mortifying not just embarrassing, and the tone of my blog in no way implied that I or Chris were mocking the people that we could not confidently identify , any more than I was mocking my mother or the other frail ladies in the ward when I resolved my shocking dilemma by either asking a nurse or looking at labels. Ever heard of honesty being the best policy? It’s not a rule widely observed in our culture, that so often applauds niceness , empty fake compliments and avoiding difficulties – and decries many painful truths being openly stated. Keep your thoughts to yourself, and always avoid controversy are the universal rules of polite society. Unfortunately, I am part of that Awkward Squad, who are only too happy to point out the hypocrisies of so called political correctness and oppose what we see as the hidden prejudices of those who attack us for voicing uncomfortable truths.

    Racism, sexism, ageism applied to the HIPCC would surely elicit direct or indirect accusations that these finalists were either being treated differently on one or more of those grounds, or should have been treated differently because of them. Did my blog imply that either I thought the jury had chosen these 4 of the 6 finalists because of some prejudice, or did it imply that I thought that it was unreasonable that the majority of the finalists were female, or from Asia, or were between them younger than the other two male North American finalists?

    This unfounded accusation has successfully ended both Chris’s very committed work for HOT and my recent involvement with it. I suggest that the editors take note that appeasing unsubstantiated (and probably libellous) criticism is counterproductive for any newspaper that wants to be taken seriously and attract more than the usual puffs and bland promotional articles.

    People saying, or doing things that you find objectionable, or possibly based on a world view you do not share are not sufficient grounds for attacking them as racists, sexists or whatever. If they were, then it would be impossible to say anything about people who were gay, overweight, Jehovahs Witnesses or swore at their children in the street. Thought police are definitely around, but should themselves be confronted , not appeased. Observations are not criticisms, they are statements of facts. Admittedly those with a latent prejudice might seize on those facts as bolstering their own views – but that is not an adequate excuse for suppressing the facts, still less attacking the messenger

    If I thought there was any reason to apologize, I would, but two weeks on I really can’t see any reason to do so. If someone can be bothered to put up a cogent case for my blog being manifestly racist, sexist or ageist then I’ll be happy to respond.

    What I can say is that I always welcome and enjoy clarifying or correcting my views , whether it be in my blogs, or now in this correspondence(this is a fourth draft!). It is just very disappointing (because so predictable) to only get blanket, negative criticism. I’m not looking for praise, but I did genuinely hope that I might encourage people to think and act more on their own behalf– in particular it would have been good to have found more than one person from Hastings amongst the many dozen of the audience who did take up my offer to talk around our shared experience.

    I suspect that for all of us who attended this year, the Piano Competition was a wonderful experience and I just hope that my enthusiasm will encourage more to come next year

    David Pullen

    Comment by David — Wednesday, Mar 16, 2016 @ 09:59

  2. Zelly Restorick

    I am posting the following words on behalf of HOT writer, Chandra Masoliver, who has had difficulty posting a comment and has asked for my help. Zelly Restorick

    ‘I didn’t like David Pullen’s comments in Blog 7 with derogatory remarks about women, race and age. Jocularity of tone and remarks like “Oh, it was just a joke, haven’t you got a sense of humour?” have been used for centuries to slide out of responsibility for what one says.

    Mostly I thought his blogs were interesting, but they were meant to be about music. Political correctness can go too far when people are afraid to say what they think, but so can not speaking up. So here I am!

    And does it matter that the comments are in HOT? I believe in free speech, so it’s up to HOT how the very different people on the Editorial board react. It would make an interesting discussion openly. Most people I know harrumphed about it, one old codger was delighted. It didn’t go unnoticed.’

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 @ 11:12

  3. Chris Cormack

    When someone starts a sentence ‘with due respect’, I always know that respect is the last thing on their mind. This is my last comment on this topic.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Saturday, Mar 5, 2016 @ 13:09

  4. Steph Gaunt

    With due respect, Chris, the fact that you are a graduate in Chinese and your positive opinions of the contestant’s talent are both irrelevant to the issue. David’s comments are plain old-fashioned racist and HOT should not be publishing or endorsing the material. In your place I would ask David to amend the blog, it does nothing for HOT’s reputation.

    Comment by Steph Gaunt — Saturday, Mar 5, 2016 @ 12:44

  5. Chris Cormack

    Stephanie, I accept that what was written is ‘racist’ in modern parlance, but as a BA graduate in Chinese who has always had the highest regard for the Chinese people and their culture, and this extends to the other countries in the Far East, I do not accept that either David or I had anything but good will towards all the competitors of Far Eastern origin and we are both in awe of their talent. This made it all the more awkward for us when trying to match photos with names for our pieces –
    to get it wrong would have made us all the more guilty as charged.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Saturday, Mar 5, 2016 @ 12:12

  6. Steph Gaunt

    Now, I never usually comment on HOT but really – aren’t you being a bit racist ‘can’t tell one from another’…..?

    That sort of ‘they all look alike’ language started being considered unacceptable circa 1980. Chris, am astonished that you not only let this get by you as editor, but apparently endorsed it too!

    Comment by Steph Gaunt — Saturday, Mar 5, 2016 @ 11:40

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