BRAVISSIMO! May 2019

Conversation with Lim Yan

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This year’s edition of the Singapore International Piano Festival (30 May – 3 Jun) brings virtuoso pianists from around the world. They are renowned veteran British pianist Ronan O’Hara; Gilmore Artist Award recipient and Russian-born American Kirill Gerstein; top Chinese pianist Sa Chen; and BBC New Generation Artist and Swiss-Chinese pianist Louis Schwizgebel.

And the impresario at the centre of it all is the Festival’s newest Artistic Director, Lim Yan.

Lim — a seasoned recitalist and concerto soloist — has performed throughout Europe and Asia, including the Cheltenham Festival and the Beijing International Piano Festival. Describing his personal affiliation to Singapore’s foremost piano festival, Lim said:

“I grew up with the Festival, not just in a literal sense but also musically. The first edition in 1994 coincided with the time when I decided to pursue music seriously in the UK.”

Lim Yan

In his first year as Artistic Director for the Festival, Lim offers up a decidedly diverse selection of performers, though he’d be the first to insist that this was unintentional.

“Diversity isn’t the most important factor — for me artistic quality is the overriding concern,” said Lim.

The final roster reflects not just the “international-ity” of the Festival but also, an Asian dimension to it, given two of the performers’ heritage. “I’m sure we’ll be able to bring this closer to home with subsequent Festivals, given the increasing number of fine pianists that are coming up from our region,” he added.

“We are excited to be presenting Chen, Gerstein, O'Hara and Schwizgebel, and their brand of artistry. I hope that the audience will also share our appreciation of and admiration for them."

Lim Yan

Ronan O’Hora in particular was a special coup for Lim. The British veteran was a mentor to the Singaporean during Lim’s music training in the UK, where O’Hara was his “greatest influence”. Budding pianists can also look forward to In conversation with Ronan O’Hora, a one-hour dialogue session with the Head of Keyboard Studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

“In general, I’ve strived for a balance of repertoire, artistic and performing styles to appeal to a wide audience base. That said, I’m also aware that my own personal tastes will inevitably be reflected in the programming and line-up,” he quipped.

This is an edited version of an interview that first appeared in the website of the Association of Asia-Pacific Performing Art Centres.

Visit 26th Singapore International Piano Festival for more details. 

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