Anna Geniushene and Lucas Thomazinho hail from opposite ends of the world – Anna from Moscow in Russia and Lucas from São Paulo in Brazil. But ask these two pianists what has been their greatest feat of endurance, the hardest thing to achieve in their musical life, and the answer is remarkably similar: learning how to express their humanity through their music.
Of all your achievements – musical, academic, physical or in life – what has been your greatest feat, taken the hardest or longest amount of work, been the highest mountain to climb?
Lucas: For me music is about self-knowledge. You have to know yourself, so you can say something when you make music. This constant search is my everyday challenge, and also motivates me when I consider the huge amount of music repertoire to learn, explore, and so much to communicate through music.
Anna: I believe the hardest thing is to learn is how to be a real human being. This is a lifelong art which can be rewarding for yourself: you can’t get upset or feel lonely. It will definitely pay you back one day.
What words of encouragement keep you working at it? How do you keep the motivation?
Anna: “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso
Is this what you tell yourself when you’re practising piano for hours?
Anna: I never talk to myself when I work. I speak to the music itself and this dialogue is much more precious than the dialogue rising inside your head. Especially during the practising time.
Lucas: When I practise, I turn my attention to the understanding of the piece, and how to communicate to the listeners my conception of what the composer wrote.
How do you like to reward yourself when you make it or achieve success?
Anna: Success is quite ambivalent thing. Sometimes you may achieve a goal of running 5 kilometers, and this is already a sort of success. Sometimes you may find new fingerings for a passage you’ve been working hard on. Reward is always a spiritual gratitude for having the chance of pushing yourself to the certain limit.
Lucas: I don’t reward myself when I achieve something. The pleasure of achieving something in a good day of practice is the reward.
If you win the Sydney International Piano Competition, how will you reward yourself?
Anna: Winning a competition is just a beginning of a hard path so there is no sense in rewarding yourself for winning: it seems for me to be quite a narcissistic state of mind. Being on stage, sharing your emotions and feeling an inspiration from the audience – that is the best reward an artist can dream of.
Lucas: If I win the Sydney International Piano Competition, the sense of accomplishment of being a prize winner is the reward.
This pandemic is testing everyone’s endurance. How are you using this time during isolation? Have you taken up anything new? Are you learning new works?
Anna: I used the first days of complete lockdown for enormous amounts of practising, but after a week of hard work I realised this is the proper time for having a complete restart. So I am completely happy to use this time for staying with my loved ones and my new family member – my dog, Leo.
Lucas: The isolation affected everyone; I’m passing through this moment at home with my family. I’m using the time with my family and girlfriend, reading books and learning new pieces. In these difficult times, each day is a gift.