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Piano Festivals Singapore - Budapest

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Continuing from my last blog.

Here are the highlights from the festivals in the month of July

1-7 July - Singapore

5-14 July - Budapest

I was literally in both places at the same time. I was running the show in Singapore but my heart was in Budapest. Thankfully I had the most incredible team with me, and the best faculty of the year!

From Left to Right

Jia Hui (Student helper), Jessie Lai, Philippe Cassard, Dario Candela, Poom Prommachart, Corinna Chang, Lucca, Aimo Pagin, Yann Peron, Zhi Wei (my brother)

From right after the CD launch, the next big project I had to prepare for was the Radio interview at Symphony 924 - where I will be presenting my CD as well as the festival. Here's a photo with Andrew Lim from 924. (Under one roof) ;)

At the Esplanade - There would be 2 evenings of Concerts featuring faculty members of the festival. Philippe Cassard, Aimo Pagin, Dario Candela and Poom Prommachart.

Besides teaching, I was running around venue to venue. Checking on everyone and making sure things were smooth.

Trust me, each day felt like a week. I barely had anytime to eat or sleep.

In the evenings we held meetings for the following day. The printing had to be done early in the mornings and I had to take care of 4 artists! Fortunately they were really flexible.

The team did their job! While the concert was happening, there were other events happening at the same time. Lectures, Masterclasses etc..

Masterclasses at Steinway Gallery, Singapore Chinese Cultural Center, Lectures at Alliance Francaise and concert at the Esplanade. All at the same time!

At the Alliance Francaise Theatre, Philippe Cassard gave a few lectures about French Music, Debussy, and the last sonatas of Schubert. Poom Prommachart, presented a lecture on competition preparations and how to become a concert pianist.

Aimo teaching a masterclass at the SCCC

Some post concert photos.

Philippe Cassard with HE French Ambassador Mr Marc Abensour.

Poom Prommachart with M R Malinee Chakrabandhu (Famous Thai Princess/Actress of the royal family), Aimo Pagin after his Chopin Waltz Recital.

Last 2 days were dedicated to Piano Competition were we will be listening to young pianists from all over the world. The level was very high and we met many gifted pianists!

Jury members of the 3rd Piano Island Festival Competition

Philippe Cassard, Dario Candela, Aimo Pagin, Poom Prommachart and myself

I would say that the competition was rather satisfying, to hear all these young musicians, so well prepared. The future for music in our region looks to be brighter than it seems!

Let's not add into the fact that I improvised a speech, made a huge mess while giving out the prizes! They screwed up backstage with the order of the certificates. Silly me, I messed up quite a bit myself. I was simply too exhausted, haven't been eating nor sleeping like a normal person for an entire week.

The results I believe although was fair, counting to the point, there were a few others who deserved better. I personally felt the results could have been otherwise. But hey, nothing is fair in life, you just have to work harder until you achieve what you worked for. Attitude is so important in this business, some can accept and learn, others just can't. I just wish everyone learnt something and look towards the better versions of themselves.

Special thanks to Calvin, my childhood bro, who flew all the way from Sydney to help organize the festival. From the look of things, I was running the show, but through out he was doing it all.

He deserves a noble prize for the work done! - mind you, Voluntary work is always the greatest.

I forgot to fit this photo somewhere in this Blog. Through all the madness, we still managed to find time to support friends!

We crashed Josephine's Ravel Concerto at YST concert hall. She had recently injured her other hand, so we thought it would be nice to bump in!


Ok. So after sending Philippe Cassard to France, and Calvin to Australia.

I caught a really bad flu. I was feverish and feeling super sick.

Flew from Singapore to Paris at 11.30pm, arrived in Budapest at 3pm the next day.

Here at the festival, Laszlo had everything under control. From student accommodation to managing the lesson schedules, to printing scores for the musicians. The man is a machine!

When I arrived in Budapest, I was feeling really sick. I had to cancel all the masterclasses and postpone it to the next day.

Everything was really well organized, the feeling around the students and teachers felt great.

Same as the last festival, I adjudicated at the competition. This time with the Danube Symphony Orchestra at the Danube Palace.

The concerto competition was a opportunity for the students to perform their work in a full concert setting.

We offered a professional video option, I guess for some students it was their first time performing with orchestra. Overall, this was a very good experience for everyone.

On the Jury were Stanislav Ioudenitch, Sul Ha-Young, Maestro Andras Deak, the orchestra, and myself.

I managed to grab a meal with the most inspiring Stanislav Ioudenitch. No idea how someone can be so good at the piano, so successful in his career, and yet so humble. His simplicity makes me wonder why people try so hard, to prove something, or to be someone they aren't.

If you love the piano, and you still don't know Stanislav Ioudenitch. Winner of the Van Cliburn competition. The future of piano pedagogy. The art of piano. That's everything about this guy. He's THAT good.

So there we go, announcement of the competition results.

A tied first prize goes to Lisa Tahara (Canada) and Victoria Frances Young (USA)

Some photos of Budapest -

I'll do another blog about my concert in 2018 with more details of where to visit in Budapest.

Closing winner's concert. Huge thank you to Laszlo for making this wonderful festival a success.

Thank you Maestro András Deák and his fantastic orchestra for the countless hours of rehearsals.

Looking forward to the next festival in Pazardzhik with Grigor Palikarov and Simone Pedroni in 2020.

I'm finally done!

All the burden on my shoulders gone in one moment. It felt like I was once again breathing normally. Can't wait for the holidays :)

One amazing breakfast in Budapest before heading onto the next flight!

Next stop - Paris

(this time not for work)

3 pleasant days in Paris. I opted not to take the metro. Seriously, I walked to the places I used to go when I was a student. Eiffel Tower, Church Augustin, Place Vendome, Hotel de ville, Pont Marie, Monmatre, Opera, Place des Vosges, Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. I felt so much, at peace, for the first time in a long time.

I found time to meet up with some amazing people as well!

Lunch with my master Jean Marc Luisada

Discovering Jonas Kaufmann music and catching up with life in another Tunisian restaurant!

We ordered Tripes and Whole fishes this time! 5 stars!

Guess what?

I met Philippe Cassard for dinner in Paris!

One week after sending him to Paris, I'm now in Paris ;)

Philippe invited me to one of the finest fish restaurants in Paris. At the peak of the Champs Elysees.

He insisted that he would bring me to a nice place to thank me for Singapore. Oh well, I could I reject such an offer.

Check out the restaurant

A Michelin starred restaurant located at the entrance of the Danish Embassy

142, Avenue des Champs-Elysées - 1er étage de la Maison du Danemark 75008 Paris

I think the best meal I had in 2019 so far..

Try it if you don't believe me.

Right, so time for some last minute shopping.

My dear wife Julie, is a huge fan of the Dammann tea series.

Checked this off the list and I'm on my way to the airport once again.

Just a little note on the final flight. I didn't realize it on the way to europe (Too sick to think)

I found that the flight back to Singapore on Air France was EXCEPTIONAL.

I usually hate flying with this company due to their countless problems with strikes etc. I have to say, the service was good and the food was incredible. The entire flight was really enjoyable.

(Maybe because I'm so glad everything's just over)

Next time I go to Paris from Singapore, I'll pass Singapore Airlines and take Air France!

Signing out!

See you on the next blog :)

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