A pianist muses, chats and inspires

A pianist muses, chats and inspires

Child prodigy-turned-celebrated performer Freddy Kempf was in Hong Kong to play to a young audience. He also had a chat with our junior reporters, sharing his views on music and the city


From left: William Cheng, Areon Chan, Leona Chen Ying-tong, Jade Wan Yuen-ying, Dristi Gurung, Juliana Law, Sanchez Lo, Kate Ng, and Adithya Sivakumar with pianist Freddy Kempf.
From left: William Cheng, Areon Chan, Leona Chen Ying-tong, Jade Wan Yuen-ying, Dristi Gurung, Juliana Law, Sanchez Lo, Kate Ng, and Adithya Sivakumar with pianist Freddy Kempf.
Photos: Lucy Choi
British pianist Freddy Kempf was just 14 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition in 1992. He has since played solo and in orchestras around the world. Recently nine junior reporters went to the Concert Hall of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, where Kempf showcased his talents as part of the Premiere Performances of Hong Kong's "Play!" concerts. They also spoke to the pianist. You can learn more about future "Play!" concerts at www.pphk.org

Young listeners made lots of noise, but Kempf managed to stay focused during his performance. "I usually wait for the noise to [die down]," he told us. "This was not the worst situation I've had. Once when I played in Moscow, 16 mobile phones rang during just one of the piano pieces."

Kate Ng

Freddy's father is German and his mother is Japanese. He was born in Britain. He speaks several languages. He told us that learning languages is like practising the piano. First, you have to learn the basics of a language and then you need to practise. Practice makes perfect!

Jade Wan Yuen-ying

Freddy's performance reminded me of my former piano teacher who always told me to make up a story to link the different parts of a piece and create an imagery in my head while playing. Freddy, too, has his own take on music pieces.

Leona Chen

Freddy has been to many countries. He told us he really likes Hong Kong. "Hong Kong audiences are honest and natural," he said. "I have been to Japan, and the audience there treated my piece like I was doing a science experiment, being critical of every note I played. And in Moscow, there were 16 phone calls during one piece!"

The musician said he really appreciated the respect he received in Hong Kong.

Areon Chan

When I asked his views about the differences between classical and pop music, he said he also liked the latter. "I do listen to pop music and I think it usually comes with stronger emotions, such as a break-up, first love, and sadness," he said.

Pop music comes with lyrics, which can help listeners relate more readily to a song and feel its emotion.

Dristi Gurung

As a professional pianist, Freddy spends relatively little time practising. Usually he practises for just two hours a day. His secret is practising a long time ahead of a performance. For instance, for Bartok's Piano Concerto No 2, a very difficult piece, Freddy started practising it three months in advance.

Freddy is immersed in music. His days are filled with practising, performing, and recording. It can be stressful, even though classical music is supposed to be relaxing. To wind down, Freddy likes to go for a jog or listen to pop music.

William Cheng

His life outside of music has also been very interesting. He told us that as a child, he was also a golf prodigy. He said that when he was 12, he played more golf than piano. He also enjoys jogging and learning languages. So far he has studied 22 languages. He can speak six fluently!

Sanchez Lo

Young Post organises regular activities for our junior reporters. If you wish to join, send your name, age, school and contact details to reporters.club@scmp.com with "jun rep application" in the subject field.

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- Teenage pianist Conrad Tao, who first performed at the age of four, shrugs off suggestions that he is a prodigy

- International superstar Lang Lang tells Young Post how classical music can stay classic while appealing to a whole new generation



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