Postcard from William Shi – 2015 recipient

The year moves along so fast! The last time I wrote an update, I had just finished Semester One of my final year. Now, we’re well into Week 9 and getting into the business end of my (hopefully) last semester of undergraduate study. For my final semester, my only subjects are Practical Studies, Advanced Chamber Music Performance and my Portfolio of Artistic Research (Thesis/Exegesis). A large percentage of my final grade for my Portfolio of Artistic Research will be conducted on this coming Friday, where I will be performing the entire Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2 Op.18, with my teacher (Max Olding) on 2nd piano. I also had my mid-semester assessment of my chamber music last week, where I performed a segment of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for Four Hands with my duet partner.

Apart from that, the past few months have been spent intensely practicing (and stressing) for the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition that just concluded a few days ago. The top 20 competitors all performed Round 1 and 2 before selection into the Semifinals. My Round 1 performance (consisting of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D minor Book II, Chopin’s Etude in C Major Op.10 No.1, Balakirev’s transcription of Glinka’s The Lark, and Rachmaninoff’s transcription of Kreisler’s Liebesfreud) was a very ‘safe’ performance – right notes first, musicality second. I opened up a lot more in my Round 2 performance, where I performed Clementi’s Sonata in F# minor Op.25 No.5, Tchaikovsky’s Dumka Op.59 and Chopin’s Scherzo No.4 in E major. My Round 2 performance was very successful and much more expressive, and although there were a few blips here and there (I lost some focus due to excitement), it was one of my best performances, according to my teacher. Unfortunately, I didn’t get selected into the semifinals, but I have no regrets over what I have managed to learn about myself and my playing over these past few months. There were people coming up to me after the semifinalists’ announcement saying they thought I should have made it in, and I’d much rather that than people questioning my advancement if I had qualified. The second week of the Competition/Festival gave me the opportunity to perform in a masterclass with juror Rita Reichman which was incredibly insightful; not just for my own playing, but also observing how the other participants improved with Rita’s feedback. There is no doubt I retained nuggets of information which I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

A few other events I was involved in during these last few months include giving a performance at the UQ School of Music Open Day, and performing Bloch’s Concerto Grosso with the Australian String Quartet as part of the St Peters Signature Concert Series. Recently, I’ve also qualified for the finals of UQ’s Margaret Nickson Prize for Voice and Accompaniment – the finals will be held early next month. Our mid-semester break is next week, but it won’t be much of a break for me – I’ll be recording a CD of duets, trios and quartets with the UQ Singers!

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