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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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