VC Talks: an interview with Eri Wong, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner


  • 1st Prize, GLORY Int'l Modern & Contemporary Classical Music Competition 2018

Eri Wong is currently studying piano under Nobuyo Nishizaka. She has recently graduated from the Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor of Music, piano performance, where she studied under Dr. Joel Clifft. During the past several years, she participated and won in various competitions, including: SYMF, CAPMT, MTAC, LA international Liszt Competition, LA Young Musician International competition, etc. Recently she won the CAPMT Honors Auditions (2nd Place 2013, 3rd Place 2014, 2017 and 2018), the CAPMT Romantic festival (2nd place 2016, 2017, and 2018), the MTAC State Solo Competition (Honorable mention 2015 and 2016, winner 2018), and the MTAC State Final Solo Competition (1st place 2018). She also won the American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music (2nd place 2012, 1st place 2014, 2nd place 2015).

Eri has participated in many charity concerts and has performed in Carnegie Hall in New York three times. She was also a part of the YMF chamber music series and participated in the live radio broadcast at LACMA. Aside from her private lessons, Eri take lessons every year and a few master classes from Mr. Paul Roberts in Portland, Oregon. She has also been involved in the Azusa Conservatory of Music since 2015, where she enjoys teaching private piano. Besides solo performances, Eri was the school symphony pianist and also an accompanist for various musicians including instrumentalist, vocalists, and musical theatre students.

What year were you born?

Do you come from a musical family?
Yes, my mother is a piano teacher. She introduced me into playing the piano.

What was your earliest musical experience?
I started playing the piano when I was five years old, but before then, my mother played short tunes from the Disney songbook or from the well-known classical hits book on the piano for me. I was immediately intrigued and genuinely awed by the beautiful sound of the instrument.

Why did you choose to play the piano?
It was my mother’s decision at first, but as I continued to take lessons, I have never failed to appreciate and continue to love playing piano. Performing and playing the piano has been my passion since I was young.

Who are your favorite composers and why?
Debussy is one of my favorites. His use of exquisite colors, delicate tones and limitless imaginations brings me into a dream- like world, filled with euphoria.

Who are your musical idols?
My current favorite pianists that I enjoy listening to are Krystian Zimerman and Seong Jin Cho.

What was your most memorable performance?
When I performed Debussy's L'isle Joyeuse in New York, Carnegie Hall.

What is a perfect performer?
This is a difficult question, but I have a fairly simple answer. I believe that a perfect “performer” is someone who is genuinely enjoying and feeling the music. This is probably the best way to share, convey and connect with the audience.

What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
At the moment, I enjoy playing the 3rd Ballade by Chopin and Messiaen’s Preludes for piano, Un reflet dans le vent.

What are the main influences in your music-making?
My piano teachers, especially my current private teacher, Nobuyo Nishizaka.

When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
I definitely think about the piece and music that I am performing. I enjoy creating my own stories and images for the pieces.

Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I have just graduated from the Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor degree in Music, Piano Performance. Currently I am preparing for my Graduate school auditions.

What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
Participating in competitions gives me the opportunity to improve my pieces and performances in general. Competitions are like a goal in a way since it motivates me to practice harder so that I can give a thorough performance. Winning a prize is great, but the best take away is the process and the fact that I am learning something new and improving.

What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
I think it is a great competition! There are so many different categories and many performers from all around the world. I thought the audience award was very interesting too. It was a great experience overall.

When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
I love to eat out with my family and friends, watch YouTube videos, go thrift shopping, and sometimes read.

What book are you reading now?
Recently I have been into reading Japanese books. My favorite genre is mystery for sure.

What are the happiest moments in your life?
When I am spending time with my family and friends, playing the piano and eating ice cream.

What things do you not like to do?
Sports. I am terrible at sports.

What inspires you and what makes you sad?
My parents and my piano teacher always inspire me.
I get very upset when I give poor performances.

What are your strengths?
I believe that I am a hard worker.

What is your life motto?
My dad once said, “If you put your mind to it, you can do anything”
Simple, but it certainly spoke to me.

What is most important in life?
Family, love, music and happiness

What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work for sure. Without hard work, I believe that the talent won’t even show or it will go to waste. There are many great musicians that are extremely talented, but they still work and practice hard like everyone else.

If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
I would probably to the ordinary. Wake up, eat a big breakfast, practice piano and spend time with my family.

Why does the universe exist?
Because miracles can happen…?!

Thank you very much for talking to us.

In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.