February's Young Artist: Eric Tan
By: Neapolitan Connection Staff
Eric Tan is a talented young pianist who has been a past
winner of many local and national piano competitions, has
performed at Roy Thomson Hall and appeared on Toronto's
Classical 96.3FM. Now a student at Cornell University, we
were interested to learn more about Eric's current musical
life and endeavors. Here is our interview with him below:
Q: How did your life as a pianist/musician begin?
ET: I've been playing keyboard instruments since kindergarten, starting with a "melodica."
At the age of 6, my family immigrated to Canada. In grade 1, I improvised the first few
lines of O Canada on a piano in class after hearing it every day in primary school. My
teacher then persuaded my parents to register me at Dixon Hall Music School. I officially
started learning piano at the age of 7.
Q: Do you have any particularly memorable performance experiences?
ET: Probably my solo six-city tour of Ontario as the winner of the ORMTA Provincial finals. My travels ranged from Niagara Falls to Thunder Bay. Just before the first concert, I got really sick and had a terrible cough. I couldn't practice or speak without coughing. That's when I discovered Halls cough drops, and it allowed me to get through, an hour at a time, with much reduced coughing. I never thought I would ever do a performance with candy in my mouth. But it worked, and I thought it went well. Later on, in Owen Sound, the lights went out halfway into the recital (due to automatic motion sensor lights), for all of 10 seconds in the middle of L'Isle Joyeuse. It still went smoothly.
Q: Who or what has been your biggest musical influence as a young musician?
ET: My piano teacher Gloria Saarinen was crucial in providing the knowledge and technique to learn faster and play more musically. Several people have been instrumental in my growth as a musician, but the one who made it all possible was my mom. She was always there with me when I practised, giving me encouragement and support, guiding me along to achieve my goals. I would probably have accomplished little if my mom wasn't there to make sure I played to the peak of my ability and knowledge.
Q: Do you have any favorite music composers?
ET: Beethoven is my favourite composer. His piano works exude intense excitement, rhythmic drive, and deep expressiveness in the slow movements. His music is very explosive, and I enjoy playing explosively - sometimes too much. He also embodies romanticism within the classical forms, with just the right balance. However, that doesn't mean I don't like other composers, just that Beethoven is the perfect embodiment of my musical tastes.
Q: What musical projects are you currently working on?
ET: My senior piano recital was on January 31 2015, and with that, I have mostly completed my Music (dual) degree at Cornell University. I’m focusing on finishing my engineering degree this semester. I aim to continue learning new repertoire for the rest of my foreseeable life and perform when the opportunity arises.