At the age of 16, pianist Lara Melda won the BBC Young Musician 2010 competition, performing Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No 2 in the final round with Vasily Petrenko and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff. Now as the 2012 Competition approaches, she talks to editor Erica Worth about the experience ...
Though of course I had known about the competition before, I had never really thought about entering it. I remember I had just got back from my holiday, when my teacher at the time, Emily Jeffrey, called me and suggested that I should apply straight away because the deadline was the next day!
Tell me a bit about your current teacher?
Ian Jones is my current teacher. He has been a great inspiration to me, and I really enjoy working with him.
How long did it take you to prepare for BBC Young Musician? Was it a long process?
Well, it was a process within a larger process… as our whole lives as pianists are full of hard work and practice, whatever we are preparing for. So the main challenges were preparing repertoire in a short amount of time.
Did it affect your regular schooling?
It is more after the competition that my life at school has been affected, as I now have so many performances all over the country and abroad. However I was lucky that YCAT [Young Concert Artists Trust] were very helpful in organising the concerts to fit around school, and at the times when I have missed school, Purcell School have been extremely understanding.
What was the whole process like, from beginning to end?
I really enjoyed every minute of it, meeting so many lovely people and performing in such wonderful places was like a dream come true! It was a great experience. Of course, the tension increases in the later stages but you learn how to channel the added adrenalin into the music making and to focus only on the music.
Were you nervous, for example, or excited?
Maybe I was slightly nervous before the performance, however after getting on stage I was incredibly excited, especially for the concerto performance. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to perform with such a wonderful orchestra as BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Vassily Petrenko as the conductor.
Were you shocked that you won?
I had not really thought about the results, I was just enjoying the performances, and glad to be there, so when I heard my name announced as winner, I was literally speechless!
What concerto movement will you be playing on the 13th May?
I will be playing a movement from Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto.
Is it a piece close to your heart?
It is something I have always wanted to play, and am so happy to be performing it now, with the Northern Sinfonia and Kiril Karabits.
What are your favourite composers or periods of music that you like to perform?
Well, I like a variety of music and composers from different periods, however I feel that the Romantic period is closest to my heart. I love Chopin and Rachmaninov, as I really feel an emotional connection to that music.
Tell us your plans now? Where are you going to study, and with whom?
I am going to do an undergraduate course at the Royal College of Music, continuing my piano studies with Ian Jones, who is Assistant Head of Keyboard there. I have also signed with Askonas Holt, which I am incredibly excited about, with performances booked already until 2013.
Lara Melda will be appearing on the BBC Young Musician on 13 May
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