Lucas Wong’s Secret to Musicality

Lucas Wong is an Assistant Professor in Piano at the School of Music in Soochow University, China. He is a soloist, chamber musician and repetiteur. His repertoire in keyboard is about six centuries. This includes works from harpsichord and piano. He has performed at the He Luting Concert Hall in Shanghai, the Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall in New York and also many others. He has travelled to several places in the world such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, and United States to be a guest performer and also to conduct masterclasses.

There were three students from UCSI University’s Institute of Music who successfully passed the masterclass audition to be able to perform at this masterclass held on 26 September 2014. They were Kui Li Ern, Evelyn Chow and Lim Hong Zhi. Each of them played a piece, they are ‘Invitation to the Dance’ by Carl Maria von Weber, ‘El Puerto’ by Isaac Albeniz, and ‘Jeau d’eau’ by Maurice Ravel respectively.

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Kui Li Ern

Li Ern’s piece was really interesting. Even though it is just a piano piece, but you could hear two different characters in it, a shy and timid female character, and also a more confident male. I could imagine like how the male character is inviting the girl for a dance, hence the name of the piece. Mr. Wong complimented Li Ern for being a detailed-orientated and elegant pianist. A way to improve playing a piece is to imagine yourself being elevated to the role of a movie director of a play or an opera, which was what Mr. Wong had mentioned. This helps when you imagine what a director would want to see, and you as the pianist should portray what the director had decided on. Another way to improve is to have more freedom in rhythm when playing. This gives a way to fully play a piece with more emotion when there is more freedom in time.

Mr. Wong had described the piece Evelyn played as a very colorful piece. Why? Because the piece is a Spanish dance piece which has full of character! From this masterclass, I found out that this piece is from a Spanish dance set during the late 19th century to early 20th century. Mr. Wong had given an advice that if you want to get rid of the muscle memory from a previous performance, practice as slow as you can. There needs to be a balance between having more freedom of time, yet not compromising that freedom. Even the shortest notes are important.

“The more freedom you take, the more you control yourself.”

“Anything short still has some value in it.” – Lucas Wong

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Evelyn Chow

Hong Zhi’s piece is a very impressionistic piano piece by Ravel. From the masterclass, I know that Hong Zhi has a lot of potential in playing impressionistic music like this one. Playing music like this, Mr. Wong suggested emphasizing more on the bass notes. This brings out more of the melody lines played in the higher register as it would bring out more of the overtones in the chords. And when giving more emphasis on the bass notes in the left hand, it would reduce the tension that may occur in while playing the melody in the right hand. The more you relax your wrist, the better you play. That is easier said than done, to me it takes a lot of practice to do so.

This masterclass is quite an interesting one, especially the way Mr. Lucas Wong explains his suggestions, and also uses alternative ways to improve and enhance one’s playing, especially from a very young but knowledgeable musician. I thoroughly enjoyed his masterclass as I could understand which point of view he is coming from to try to bring out musicality while a piece, regardless of the instrument. I think his ‘secret recipe’ for musicality is imagination!

This article was written by Mabel Soong, 1st year student of the B. Music Classical program.

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