While growing up in Canada, Avan Yu initially wanted to be an astronaut.
Instead, the well-grounded pianist has embarked on a music career that has delivered stratospheric success.
Yu will appear Sunday in The Old School House Music on Sunday series, beginning at 2:30 p.m. in Qualicum Beach. The concert is part of TOSH’s 2015-16 season focus on the piano music of classical composers, as performed by notable contemporary players.
Yu certainly fits the bill, having won his first international piano competition at age 14 and going on to claim the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2012.
As a teen, his talent drew the attention of orchestra conductors Pinchas Zukerman and Bramwell Tovey.
who invited him to perform with their respective orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony. Yo-Yo Ma, after hearing Avan play at the age of sixteen, invited him to perform with him in Ottawa a few years later.
The awards have piled up quickly. Yu became front page news as the youngest competitor ever to win the Canadian Chopin Competition at the age of 17. On the world stage, he went on to win the Silver Medal and Audience Prize at the Santander International Piano Competition.
Following his First Prize at the Sydney International Piano Competition, the newspaper West Australian wrote: “But while he is second to few in the glittering virtuosity of which he is capable at the keyboard, there is also – and this is far more important – an ability to probe and reveal the inner depths of whatever he plays which is far more suggestive of the real McCoy than the surface prestidigitation that too often is all that many a young, hotshot piano player aspires to.”
He has appeared with conductors and musicians such as Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos, Christian Arming, Juanjo Mena, Johannes Moser, and the Armida Quartet. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia and at venues such as the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Salle Cortot in Paris, and the Sydney Opera House.
Yu’s teachers have included Kut Kau Sum, Kenneth Broadway and Ralph Markham in Vancouver, and Klaus Hellwig in Berlin, where he studied at the Berlin University of the Arts and where he currently makes his home.
His latest recording of Liszt’s Transcriptions of Schubert’s Winterreise and Schwanengesang, released by Naxos, won positive reviews from critics at Gramophone Magazine, American Record Guide and Fono Forum, among others.
Besides playing the piano, Avan has also written for the National Post.
Sunday’s concert will feature works by Couperin, Mozart, Debussy, Schumann, Liszt and Ravel.
Tickets are $16 per person and seating is limited. Advance tickets may be picked up at The Old School House Arts Centre, 122 Fern Road West in Qualicum Beach. For info, call 250-752-6133 or visit www.theoldschoolhouse.org.
— Submitted by TOSH