An Interview with Pianist Kate Liu

 

Our Community Engagement and Social Media Coordinator Katherine Logan asked Kate Liu about her experiences at the Chopin Piano Competition.


How did you decide to enter to be a competitor in the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition?
Kate: A few years ago, I remember watching the Chopin Competition from 2010 and thinking that the competitors were such artists. It became a dream for me to be a part of the competition.

Can you briefly explain the steps you went through to get to Warsaw?
Kate: We had to send in a DVD tape in December of 2014, and were notified sometime in February whether we had been accepted into the preliminaries. The preliminaries, where 160 pianists had to travel to Warsaw for a live audition, were held in April of 2015. Eighty competitors were chosen then for the real competition in October.

What were some of the most stressful aspects of this experience?
Kate: Playing in front of a jury that was so diverse in their tastes, and knowing that they were there to judge you. And, of course, just being in such a large competition is already daunting enough.

 

What would you do to de-stress on your off-time?
Kate: I would hang out with friends, listen to music, do anything that would relax me.

What was the temperament like between the competitors?
Kate: It didn’t feel like any of us were hostile towards each other at all, or very competitive, even. We made friends with each other and talked about our stress!

What did you miss most about home when you were in Warsaw?
Kate: Just being around people that I am close to, and being able to focus on studying my playing and music.

In what ways, if any, has your life changed from this experience and of winning 3rd place?
Kate: I am getting more concerts, of course, and my confidence level has improved a little. I still know I have so much to work on, and I’m trying to do that during my time at school.

How did your teaching at the academy help prepare you for this competition?
Kate: My time at Academy helped me open my eyes to theory, harmony, analyzing music, and participating in chamber. It was my first experience with chamber music, and that definitely improved my listening as a musician.

Who did you talk to the most during the competition whether it be in person, on the phone, or via social media?
Kate: I talked to my parents, of course, and they were so supportive all along the way. They were probably more nervous than I was. I also have a best friend at school who I am extremely close with and confide in.

At what point of the competition was the most stressful? At what point was the most exciting/surreal moment?
Kate: The most stressful moment was the results, of course! And the most exciting moment was after the results.

Who has influenced you and impacted you the most musically?
Kate: My teachers at MIC and Curtis have helped me tremendously over the course of my musical life. Their artistry have inspired me for many years. I could not be in the position I am today without them.