28 January 2019
By Ellie Palmer
The Leeds Winner has exploded onto the professional circuit and is now living his dream
Sporting that huge smile so unmistakably his, Eric has been enjoying the ride. From growing up in Boston to signing with Warner Classics, we look back at the factors that helped shape him into the pianist he is today.
Read Eric Lu's full interview inside the latest issue of Pianist magazine.
The Athens of America
Eric’s home city of Boston, Massachusetts is often nicknamed "The Athens of America. It holds this nickname due to its great cultural influence, which is mirrored in the city’s array of performance halls; Boston boasts some of America’s finest. It was childhood visits to both the Jordan Hall and the Symphony Hall that played a part in him declaring that he only ever wanted to be a pianist. ‘I’ve been laser-focused towards that ever since,’ he explains in his cover interview.
Thriving at Curtis
The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia is one of the world’s leading conservatoires for music. As of January 2019, Curtis has an acceptance rate as low as 4%. In other words, you’ve got to be pretty good to be accepted! Lang Lang, Leonard Bernstein, Yuja Wang, and Jorge Bolet have all passed through its system. Eric is the latest success story having first joined the institute at the age of 15. He was closely taught by two of their best teachers; Robert McDonald and Jonathan Biss. ‘John has a lot of wisdom to offer. I respect him so much… Bob has been a most wonderful teacher in every sense.’
Lessons learned from the Chopin Competition
Eric’s first taste of the international piano stage was in Warsaw, Poland, when he was a prize winner at the Chopin Competition back in 2015. Whilst the end results certainly boded well for his career, at just 17 years of age it was the journey leading up to the prize that most benefited him. In his cover interview, he tells Pianist that he entered the competition ‘partly because I just wanted to try!’ He admits that the process taught him a lot about just how demanding and stressful international competitions can be. Having this experience behind him certainly contributed to his ability to deal with the high demands of The Leeds 3 years later.
Fulfilling his potential at The Leeds
And then came his most shining moment to date; claiming 1st prize at The Leeds International Piano Competition last September. Not only did he win a £25,000 cash prize, but he was also given a ground-breaking portfolio prize designed with long-term career development in mind. Find out all the details of his portfolio prize in our Leeds International Competition round-up.
Eric Lu’s first release post-Leeds, featuring his prize-winning performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, was Editor's Choice in our last issue of Pianist. See what all the fuss is all about by grabbing yourself a copy of his winning performance below.
Enjoying the fruit of his hard work
Success in Leeds was a huge catalyst for Eric’s more recent success. Since winning the competition, he has toured China, played in St Petersburg, and returned to Leeds. His next concerts take in a UK tour, Marlboro Festival in Vermont, a show in Florida, and a tour of Korea before returning to the UK at the start of summer. ‘It’s a dream come true for me to bring music to different countries and areas and people. There is so much to see and learn… that’s the greatest joy of being a musician.’