This past month, Lindsey and I had the great pleasure of attending the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy. My teacher, Dr. Logan Skelton, was innovative in creating the Fellows Program, an opportunity for the doctoral students at the University of Michigan to not only attend the festival, but to give masterclasses, write reviews for concerts, perform in historic venues, as well as teach lessons. For my masterclass, I had the privilege to work with one of the most outstanding young pianists I've ever heard - Elliot Wuu. He played the Rachmaninoff Prelude in D Major, Op.23 No.4, and I was amazed! His sense of touch and his maturity with phrasing was outstanding. Even though this prelude is a lyrical piece, it was still very technically sound, and in later concerts I heard his incredibly polished technical skill with more demanding pieces. I knew immediately after working with him that I wanted to feature him as this month's young artist on this blog. Below is a one of Elliot's performance videos, as well as an interview.
How did you get started playing the piano?
My older sister played piano before I did, and I went to all of her recitals, and heard her practice all day, so I decided I wanted to play as well.
At what age did you start playing?
I started playing when I was around 5, almost 6. I'm 13 now.
How much did you practice when you were 5 years old? How much do you practice now?
I started off probably doing around a half an hour to an hour per day. I now practice four to five hours per day.
Who have you studied with?
I studied with Jed Galant for about six years, and one year ago I switched to Dr. Yoshikazu Nagai's studio from the San Francisco Conservatory.
Have you competed before? Which competitions have you done?
I compete each year. I have been to New York for the Kaufman competition [he won first prize]. I've also competed in a few different competitions in California.
Have you played with an orchestra before?
I have never played with one before, but I will play with my first orchestra next season. It will be with the El Camino Youth Symphony.
How do you stay motivated to practice each day?
I watch a lot of pros on YouTube, and I just want to play like them.
Aside from watching the pros, what advice would you give to your peers who are taking piano lessons but struggling to stay motivated?
Well, practice makes perfect right? Don't you want your performance to be perfect?
Who is your favorite composer, and what works have you played by that composer?
Mozart is my favorite composer. I have studied the Twinkle Variations, as well as the C Major K330 sonata and the Concerto in A Major, K488.
Who is your favorite pianist?
Oooo, that's a hard one. Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Murray Perahia...there's a lot!
Do your parents make you practice?
(Laughing) Yeah, they do...if I don't practice enough they make me practice more!
Do you have any dream schools that you'd like to attend one day?
Did either of your parents go there? What makes you want to attend Stanford?
No, neither of my parents went there. I just want to. Everyone wants to go to Stanford!
Why should we study music? What purpose does it play in our lives?
It's important to understand the history of music, but also to have the audience enjoy what they are listening to. I try to create a story when I perform, whether the composer gives me ideas or whether I make them up myself. This makes the music more convincing.