Montrealer wins prestigious international Chopin piano award

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Montreal pianist Bruce Xiaoyu Liu’s first place in the 18th Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition is a victory that will be shared in a way by the most prestigious music schools in Quebec, suggested one of his peers.

Charles Richard-Hamelin, who lives in Montreal and won second prize in the 2015 Warsaw Competition, says the pianists of the French-Canadian city are sure to gain more attention as a result of this event. supreme distinction.

“We’re on a roll these days, there’s something going on in Montreal,” the 32-year-old said in an interview from his home in the city.

“It’s a success for Bruce, sure, but it’s a success for our institutions here. We were both almost fully trained in Montreal.”

Liu, 24, was named the winner of the € 40,000 (CA $ 57,500) prize on Thursday, recognition that instantly elevates his status in the music community and will send him performing in countries around the world.

“Just second prize was a big enough deal to change my life, so I can imagine what Bruce is going through,” said Richard-Hamelin.

“I could also afford a completely different home and life, travel the world and do what I love, which is a dream for any pianist.”

There is an eight-year age difference between the two pianists, but Richard-Hamelin says he has known Liu for some time. They faced each other twice, he said, with Liu defeating him the first time and Richard-Hamelin winning the second time.

“We kinda lost touch… and then I (saw) him in competition and he had improved so much over the past few years and made such an impression,” he said.

“I would say he is one of the most impressive pianists I have ever heard.”

Liu, who was born in Paris before moving to Canada, graduated from the Montreal Conservatory of Music where he studied with Richard Raymond for much of his youth.

The couple first met when Liu, then a teenager, approached Raymond to ask him to study privately under his guidance.

Already having his plate full of teachings at the conservatory, Raymond said he told Liu that he could not take such responsibility. Yet in the days that followed, he said he couldn’t shake the “astonishing” level of control Liu exhibited at his young age at the piano.

“I said to myself: everything is wrong. I have to go get this boy,” Raymond remembers.

“So I got back in touch with him and convinced him to come to school and that’s how it started.”

Liu then studied at the University of Montreal where he worked with Dang Thai Son, another winner of the first prize of the Chopin competition in 1980.

Raymond said he can’t wait to give Liu a “big hug” upon his return to Montreal and share a few words about his great achievement.

“Sometimes you teach really talented kids, but you don’t know how far they’re going to go,” he said.

“But in this case it worked, so when it does, we have to celebrate.”

– This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 21, 2021.


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