South Korean composer and pianist Yiruma has been performing for more than 10 years, but he still gets stage fright.
"I'm going to pretend I know all of you," he told the audience on Wednesday at Kitec's Star Hall, after kicking off the concert with the lighthearted May Be. "I must have met you on the street somewhere."
With Yiruma's music, it's best to close your eyes, sit back, let your imagination wander and memories float in. As he puts it: "If life was a movie, I'd hope my music was the soundtrack."
For each song, he explained the imagery that inspired the piece. Do You, for example, was inspired by the 2002 South Korean film Oasis; it takes the audience on a journey into a wonderland as simple notes build into a fuller sound with more tension. The live version definitely takes the song to a higher climax than the recorded version.
Indigo, a song inspired by the sky's colour, conveys a poignant feeling of loneliness, complicated by the song's jazzy closing. Chaconne tells the story of a girl who was singing along to the radio, when she stops to stare at herself in the mirror. The ending to this song could hardly be more subtle, with the audience holding their breath as the last notes lingered.
In the second half of the concert, the pianist invited a woman from the crowd to accompany him, assuring her that all he needed was an extra finger to press the keys. Together, Yiruma and the lucky lady played an original piece on the spot, with the pianist providing a full backing to his fan's repeated melody.
Next, Yiruma performed Blind Film, a piece he recorded while improvising in a completely dark room. He then invited cellist Young Min Kim to join him on stage for Blind Improvisation and Destiny of Love, where the soft tinkling and extravagant scales of the piano intermingled, as if in conversation, with the steady purr of the cello.
But even a talented artist like Yiruma is not perfect - he made a mistake during with Love Me and had to start over, saying I will not play Love Me ever again". But few performers are as sincere in performance as he was. He offered his apology and compensated the audience with additional songs, including a remarkable rendition of Autumn Leaves that fully showed off his incredible piano skills.