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Pianist of note: Sylvia Jiang

By PHILIP CHANDLER

New Zealand’s most promising young pianist performs at Arrowtowner Sir Michael Hill’s Lodge at The Hills this coming Tuesday.

Sylvia Jiang, 24, will be playing a fully-restored 1897 Steinway Concert Grand, with all proceeds going towards furthering her musical education.

After hearing her play at the 2014 Kerikeri International Piano Competition, Hill awarded her a week’s residency at The Hills.

‘‘After a week of hearing her play, I was quite mesmerised, I just absolutely could not believe what I was hearing, so she came back and gave a house concert,’’ he says.

‘‘Once again, everyone was spellbound by her.

‘‘She’s got incredible technique and cleanness of playing, but also she’s got an enormous depth of emotion and feeling, so she really is on a different planet than most people.’’

Raised in Auckland after arriving from China when she was four, Jiang’s been studying at New York’s The Julliard School since she was 18.

Due to Covid, she’s finishing her Master of Music degree online from NZ under the tuition of world-renowned Robert McDonald.

Jiang’s already collated an amazing CV including performances with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, dazzling competition success and solo recitals in Britain, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and the United States, as well as NZ.

She’s also interested in multi-disciplinary collaborative work and was to have collaborated this year with the Dance Theatre of Harlem at New York City Center.

She says she was first attracted to the piano when, aged about three, she saw a pianist performing in a hotel lobby.

‘‘I said to my mum, ‘I want to do that’, and she was like, ‘no way’, because I was this really hyperactive kid.

‘‘But I think because I just kept asking, eventually she was like, ‘right, if you want to play, you have to practise every day’.’’

Arrowtown-bound: Uber-talented pianist Sylvia Jiang

Asked what’s behind her success, she says an element of luck comes in, ‘‘but at the end of the day, just being sure of what I want to do and then being willing to just put in the time and the grit and, I guess, a commitment to always trying to get better’’.

As to what she enjoys about the piano, she answers: ‘‘I’ve dedicated the majority of my life to try and effectively communicate myself through the instrument and the music, and what I enjoy the most is when that connection is the strongest.’’

Musically, she says ‘‘ultimately I want to leave the world a better place, in whatever little way, than when I came in’’.

‘‘So if music is what I feel I’m made to do, which I do, then through my craft I hope to essentially make positive change wherever I can.’’

For Tuesday’s concert, Jiang’s playing Beethoven, Liszt, Bach, Grieg and Prokofiev.

She’s also looking forward to seeing Sir Michael Hill again.

‘‘He’s been a really great mentor.

‘‘He’s always supported my career, and just really given me some great career advice as well.’’

Sylvia Jiang, Lodge at The Hills, Tuesday 7pm. Tickets $69, book The Hills clubhouse, 409-8290

scoop@scene.co.nz