YOUNG pianist Charles Gunn Li Qi will represent the nation after triumphing in the 3rd Steinway Malaysia Youth Piano Competition 2016 in Penang.
He beat five other hopefuls in the final held at the Penang Philharmonic's auditorium at The Star Pitt St.
That earned him a spot in the biennial contest's Asia Pacific Regional Finals in Selangor next month, where he will battle winners from seven other countries.
The 15-year-old from St Xavier's Institution said that it would be a stern challenge but was unfazed and promised to give his best.
“I started the day both nervous and excited, but now I’m in a shock.
“When my name was announced, it felt like a dream. I had to pinch myself,” he quipped after the contest recently.
Charles, who had proud parents Christopher Gunn and Rowena Yam in tow, played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Op. 2/3, Debussy’s Ondine, and Mendelssohn’s Andante and Ronodo Capriccioso Op. 14.
“My parents and piano teachers helped me choose the numbers. They are good pieces representing different composers from different times,” he noted.
The win was just reward for the hours of practice he put in prior to the contest, and he said he would celebrate it by getting a good night’s sleep.
Yam added: “I was just as nervous as he was, as the finalists here are among the best.
“But I told him to just play and enjoy himself, cause if he does, the audience would love it too.
“This wasn't his achievement alone, as credit must also go to his teachers who have been wonderfully supportive throughout.”
Besides the overall title, prizes were also awarded to finalists according to age groups, with Charles top in Category 3 (ages 15 to 17) and Cassandra Loh Qiao Ying second.
In Category 2 (ages 11 to 14), the top two were Kuik Jie En and Ashling Ng Jou Ying respectively, while winners were Tan Jing Ern and Gan Zi Hao in Category 1 (ages 10 and below).
Five others who were eliminated in the semi-finals a day earlier — Natasha Lim Li-Yen, Liew Sin Yee, Ian Teh Eu Shien, Melissa Ooi Yong Xin and Tham Yin Syuen — received special achievement awards.
Lewis Hooper, business development manager of event organisers Bentley Music, said the Regional Finals on July 23 at the Bentley Music Auditorium in Mutiara Damansara would be the first held in Malaysia.
Other countries sending their winners are Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We have been the official Steinway & Sons dealer in Malaysia since 2007, and organised the first contest in 2012 to help develop and bring through young talent in classical music.
“The contest had been held in Europe for many years, and we felt it’s timely to emulate that for this region, using standardised rules for all.
“The most important thing for a budding musician is experience. He needs a platform to get nervous, express himself and lap up the appreciation from the public,” Hooper said.
Entry passes for the regional finals are priced at RM150, and available from Bentley Music Gurney Paragon Mall.
For more information, call Joe or Ms Low at 04-2262333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.