Thinking of applying for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition? We asked Tanya Hall, a psychiatrist in Newcastle, about her experience in 2020.
Why did you apply for The Sydney Piano Lovers’ Competition in 2020?
I applied for the competition to give myself a challenge, to have a reason to learn new repertoire, and for the chance to be given the honor to perform as part of the SIPCA. I had always loved watching the competition throughout my life and had dreamed of one day entering.
What was it like preparing for the competition?
I only found out about the competition a week before the entries closed! This gave me the impetus to learn a new piece (Widmung) that I had always wanted to learn. I hadn’t practiced much in the months before this, so I had a very busy week and very tired hands and arms at the end of it! I found someone to record it who wasn’t experienced at all in recording music, so the sound quality wasn’t very good. I also chose to play an old favourite piece (the Rachmaninoff Prelude) as I didn’t have time to learn anything else new.
What is your profession? Have you always had a passion for piano?
I am a psychiatrist. Yes, as a child and young person, I studied the piano very seriously, and was considering a career in music. This was not to be. As a doctor and mother my life was very busy for many years and did not allow much time for playing. However, in recent years, I have returned to the piano, playing for pleasure, relaxation and escape, and have enjoyed immensely playing with other musicians.
Did you play the piano often previous to the competition?
I had performed a few times in recent years for concerts, including performing the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto with the local doctors’ orchestra a few years ago (an enormous challenge, but hugely satisfying). However, I had not performed solo piano in many years. Preparing for the competition, and then the ensuing performance, meant I had a reason and motivation to learn new pieces, and to perform solo again. My technique improved markedly during the preparation process, and I so enjoyed working with my previous piano teacher again.
Would you recommend for others to apply for the next edition of the competition? Why/why not?
I would definitely recommend applying for the competition. It is a wonderful opportunity to have your work and playing heard and recognized and critiqued by some of the best pianists in the world. It was honestly a huge surprise to be joint winner of the competition as I never expected to win a piano competition again in my life! It is also a great motivator to get practicing, and to connect with other piano lovers around the country.