Terence Yung

https://sites.google.com/site/terenceyungnow/Home
http://classicalmatters.com/terence_y.htm
www.youtube.com/terenceyungnow

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What were your musical influences growing up?
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I was born in Hong Kong and came to the United States in 1995.
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One of the wonderful things about growing up in America was that I was exposed to a number of wonderful musicians. For example, I worked with Eleanor Sokoloff who teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music. She gave me an excellent foundation and technical grounding. Then in about a year, I auditioned at the Juilliard School in New York City and got in. I think I was thirteen or fourteen then.

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My most current influence has been my wonderful teacher Abbey Simon, with whom I work with at the University of Houston. Studying with him has really been a trip up the mountain. He has so much experience both teaching and performing and is also incredibly demanding. I always feel like he has my best interests in his heart. At first, he’d suggest something, and I’d tell him, “Mr. Simon, that’s impossible!” and he’d just smile. Nowadays, the things he suggests are just incredibly difficult. All I can say is that he is a wonderful human being and teacher and a treasure to the university. Incidentally, I am told that I am youngest and only undergraduate student he has taken in a long time. So I’m always surrounded by my graduate and doctoral betters.

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The last important influence is my mother and my father. My father was always a record collector, so we always had a number of classical recordings. Many years ago, mother put on the record of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy that started this whole thing…

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What is your style of music?

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I am a classical pianist. Pianists are an interesting group of people. We live in the paradox that we spend out lives in solitude, and yet, in performance, we must communicate what we have created in front of the public. So, unlike say vocalists or string players or woodwind players who often get to be accompanied, most of the time pianists are performing solo. From time to time, I do get lucky and can perform a concerto with an orchestra or find great musicians to do chamber music. That is always a treat.

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Ravel Sonatine, mouvement de menuet

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Has your style changed from when you first began as a musician?

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Absolutely. I find that as I am exposed to new influences, my approach to music changes. In general, our music is a mirror for our lives. So, as life becomes more complicated, I find myself increasingly gravitating towards complexity.

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What made you choose the piano?

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After we moved to the United States, my parents made sure that we had a piano. Nobody ever played it until I decided to touch it at age 5. My mother had played a record of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with Rudolf Serkin at the piano. I went to the piano and poked out the notes. I had perfect pitch. I didn’t know I had perfect pitch, but I knew instinctively what keys were being played. They made a huge fuss and it all got started then…

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Do your write your own tracks?

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No. We have four or five centuries worth of repertoire to explore, so it would be cumbersome to add to so many of these masterpieces.

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Do you prefer writing or performing?

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I’m primarily a performer. I haven’t written any music in a long time. The last thing I wrote was a cadenza to a Mozart Concerto sometime in 2004. Incidentally, I won the concerto competition and was given the privilege of performing it. I’m somewhat of an aberration among musicians in that I’ve elected to broaden my education with an English Literature degree as well. So, I’ve written a number of critical essays on literature. I also write poetry from time to time. I had a masterclass earlier this year with the British pianist Stephen Hough, who I know is also very cerebral and writes very well. I think this is good for the overall quality of music, to have thoughtful musicians.

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Leo Ornstein A Long Remembered Sorrow, S102
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Are you very nervous appearing live, or do you enjoy it?

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You always get nervous, but at the same time you enjoy it. What nervousness means to me is that in a performance, you have the one variable that you don’t get anywhere else… the public. So there is this feeling of infinite possibility… that anything can happen. I’ve learned that this can be incredibly liberating as well, because if you do your job, one of those infinite possibilities can be an incredible performance.

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What is your favourite track by yourself?

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Incidentally, I find it difficult to listen to my old recordings. They only represent one phase of the artistic process. If I had to chose, it would be the lovely minuet from Ravel’s Sonatine. I’ve posted it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtvNNy5ey5E

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If you could have anyone’s music career, whose would it be?

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To be honest, I wouldn’t want anyone else’s career. I find that it is much more helpful to devote oneself to building one’s own career instead of sitting there wanting what someone else has.

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What do you dream about when asleep?

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Dreams are such an interesting topic. I find that dreams often give incredible information that helps one to understand waking life. I once dreamt that I was King of the World. That was a sweet dream. Quite sweet.

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Chopin Etude in e-flat, minor Op. 10 No. 6
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Do you think the internet has altered the way musicians can get known? If so, is it easier or not? Has the internet made piracy easier etc?

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Absolutely. The internet has made it much easier to reach a wider audience. Currently, I’m not affiliated with any aspect of the music business, so I’m not too worried about piracy. The whole idea of piracy is silly and defeats the purpose of music; isn’t music really supposed to be shared?

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Have you had concerts/records?

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I have been incredibly privileged to have had so many opportunities to perform. I’ve been all over the place. My favorite places have the Kimmel Center of Performing Arts (Philadelphia), Benaroya Hall (Seattle), the Grand Opera House (Delaware), Teatro de Puigcerdá (Spain), the Juilliard School (New York City), Steinway Hall, Yamaha Salon, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Dudley Recital Hall (Houston), and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. From time to time, I also participate in festivals as well. Those are also much fun. I do a little recording by myself as well. We have a lovely hall at the University of Houston and it has produced many memorable moments.

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Chopin Etude in G-flat Major, Op. 10 No. 5, ‘Black Keys’
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Have you any concerts/records planned for the future?

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I will have a recital at the University of Houston in the future, though I’m working out the kinks. I also regularly perform as a guest soloist with community orchestras. It’s always lovely to be able to play a concerto with an orchestra.

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What are your plans for the future?

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My plan for the future is to continue to do what I have been doing. It comes down to the fact that if something is so important to you, if you have something to say about the music, then you won’t be deterred by any obstacles. There have been times that I didn’t know how to continue. On those days, I sat at the piano and made something beautiful. That keeps me going.

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What advice would you give to young musicians looking to get into the profession?
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There’s a bit from Wallace Stevens that I adore. He writes:

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Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.

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That’s what we need more of these days. There is so much conflict in our world and we really need people with blue guitars (imagination!) to change things, to bring harmony to the world. That is after all, what the role of a musician really is; to bring harmony to the world.

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Chopin Etude in c-sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 4, ‘Torrent’
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Have you done any courses to help you?

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What you have to understand is that there isn’t just one course that you can take that will guarantee you will make it as a musician. We have to be humble, lifelong students; like bees, picking pollen from all those flowers to make something sweet.

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What do you do to market your work?

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I don’t yet sell recordings, but I have found it much easier to reach a wide audience by posting my videos online on Youtube. It’s so wonderful to have that resource, because after posting a video in America, about a month later, you start to see that people from all over the world—England, Russia, Japan, Finland, Cuba, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Singapore, Indonesia, Argentina, Norway, Venezuela, Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Chile, Denmark, Portugal, India, Morocco, Egypt, Australia, France, Spain, Italy—can listen and do listen to you. It’s a bit like magic.

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Chopin Etude in a minor, Op. 10 No. 2, ‘Chromatic’
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Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

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I do use it from time to time. I’m not keen on putting my entire life on the internet though. I feel that an artist has to maintain a sort of propriety of distance. These days, everyone wants to know particulars, and I feel that takes away from the mystery. www.youtube.com/terenceyungnow

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Are you available for work (gigs)?

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Yes. I am always happy to have the opportunity perform. Lately, I’ve been incredibly interested in doing benefit concerts. I feel music should be a vehicle to better the world, and supporting good causes is certainly one facet of that.

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Have you got hobbies?

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Yes, yes. On the slight chance I have some free time, I enjoy reading novels. I also enjoy writing poems from time to time.

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Chopin Etude in c minor, Op. 10 No. 12, ‘Revolutionary’
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Where are you based?

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I’m a student at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.
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