Some of Victoria’s youngest virtuoso pianists took on the works of Chopin as part of the 2018 Royal South Street Street competition on Sunday.
As part of the ‘Celebrating Chopin’ program, eight competitors drawn from places as far afield as Apollo Bay competed for the $5000 Margaret Schofield Memorial Prize.
In the surrounds of the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s atmospheric Oddie Gallery – with 19th Century works of lush green hillsides and turbulent seas filling the walls – some of the composer’s best known works rung out as hands inched with purpose across the ivories.
For Melbourne 19-year-old Jessie Fong, the competition was both a return to form and her swan song: it was one of her last performances before she pursues her passion of nursing.
Having prepared for Celebrating Chopin for three months while finishing off her music degree at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, she said Chopin was her favourite to play because it was “beautiful and lyrical”.
“I really like the phrasing, just how it sounds. There’s really soft passages and really loud passages where you can really express yourself,” she said.
“I actually haven’t competed in a while now, the last time was back in high school, so this is like stepping back into the game after three years … but this is probably one of my last competitions, so I’m just going to enjoy myself.”
The event’s master of ceremonies Calvin Bowman, an acclaimed organist from the region, said the talent on display was “very inspiring” for both the audience and professional musicians.
“To see really fine performers coming through and doing such a good job, being passionate about what they do in a world that doesn’t necessarily appreciate classical music as it might … it’s terrific.”