From winning the Centre's Great Romantics Competition in 2010 to an established concert presenter and performer, Hoang Pham reflects on 9 years of music-making with the Centre.
Pianist Hoang Pham won the Centre's Great Romantics competition for young performers who are passionate about Romantic repertoire back in 2010. Almost a decade later, he is an established concert presenter who fills Elisabeth Murdoch Hall three times a year performing virtuosic recitals for his music-loving followers. Here, Hoang reflects on the last 9 years of music-making with us at Melbourne Recital Centre.
When I won Melbourne Recital Centre’s inaugural Great Romantics Competition back in 2010, I never thought that almost a decade later, my relationship with the Centre would be as both presenter and performer on such a large scale.
The first piano recital I performed in Elisabeth Murdoch Hall was in the winter of 2009 followed by a second concert in the winter of 2011. David Barmby, who was Artistic Director in the opening year of the Centre, had invited me to perform in 2009. I remember David from my time at the Australian National Academy of Music where he was on staff. David is a lovely man, very knowledgeable about music and always believed in my aptitude to be a concert pianist. I must express my deepest gratitude to David for trusting and believing in my talent and love for music. Sometimes, big things happen from seemingly small beginnings.
Being a musician can be tough and if you want to play recitals, it requires a tremendous sacrifice and a huge investment of both time and money. But if you love the music enough and really want to perform, then the sky is the limit, especially in a city like Melbourne where the Centre has created new opportunities and resources for musicians like myself to present and perform our own concerts.
The Centre is unique because it supports grass roots development, for example through its Local Heroes program, but it also has the capacity to work with independent presenters. It fulfils the dreams of the independent musician, especially for those prepared to work hard, invest intelligently in their marketing and who aspire to the highest independent artistic goals.
I have travelled widely and I can assure you there is no other city in the world and no other venue in the world that achieves what the Centre is able to achieve. Australia in general, actually and contrary to popular myth, has the greatest resources and support for independent classical musicians. But it’s up to the musicians to invest and take advantage of our incredible resources.
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to play piano recitals. I don’t know why, is this the only way to express myself? Certainly not. But in my lifetime, I can’t see anything more fruitful than to play the great piano literature. This was what I wanted to do, it’s why I went to my weekly lessons with my piano teacher Rita Reichman for some 17 years. It’s why I went overseas to study, why I entered all the competitions, so I could get opportunities to perform. I truly love playing the piano and love the great music that was written for it. And so in the last few years, I pursued my dream of always playing my very best and so I started to present my own concerts in Elisabeth Murdoch Hall. I remember my all-Chopin recital in March 2016 being such a wonderful way to get back to playing solo piano. And since then, I’ve presented another seven concerts. The highlights for me have been performing chamber music with colleagues including William Hennessy, Chris Howlett, Katherine Lukey, Mee Na Lojewski, Rebecca Chan, Anna Da Silva Chen and Eliza Sdraulig and presenting my own concerto concert with Zelman Symphony.
This December, I will perform Tchaikovsky First and Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concertos with Heidelberg Symphony. All these recitals, trio concerts and concerto concerts I presented myself, there was not a drop of money that was invested that wasn’t my own. Through this experience, I have developed a wonderful relationship with the staff at the Centre on all levels and I now know everybody who works at the box office.
In addition to presenting these concerts, I’ve been able to raise money for so many different charities through my events at the Centre. I feel proud that I now have the skill, the resources and the means, built through many years of work with Melbourne Recital Centre, that has enabled me to look after myself and also to give something to others.
Words by Hoang Pham.