Gifted with a refined artistic vision, unique interpretational skills, and a brilliant sense of music aesthetic, talented pianist Congyu Wang opens up about the life and the art of what's like to be a "Wandering Pianist."
In his book, titled “Wandering Pianist: From the Streets to the Concert Hall” out on December 27th, 2023, Congyu Wang talks about some intimate and personal aspects of his artistic journey.
Today, we had the immense pleasure of sharing with you an exclusive interview with this talented artist, so sit back, and get ready to know what’s behind the stage of one of the most talented pianists of our generation.
Hello Congyu, thank you for being with us today, it is such a pleasure having the chance to discover more about your artistic journey. Your talent is incredible, and as a pianist, you touch the hearts of the listeners with intense and soulful performances. We are thrilled to share with our readers the news about the upcoming release of your book titled “Wandering Pianist: From the Streets to the Concert Hall” out on December 27th, 2023. What led you to the decision to write it?
Thank you for having me. I was hesitant about writing this book a year ago. First of all, as a concert pianist – I spend many hours a day practicing the piano. Up to 7-8hrs. My close friends who knew about this project also told me that I was too young to write a book about my life. However, with all the concert engagements I had since January, I found myself stranded in different airports. I’ve had much time to rethink about my life on these long-haul flights. In fact, most of the book was written on the plane. I guess life is too short to have any regrets – I decided to commit my story to paper because I finally found time to do it!
Some artists think music is enough, and they are very secretive about the story behind their artistic journey. I personally think it is fundamental to understand and appreciate the way an artist interprets a piece, and I believe your book is going to help a lot of young artists too. What do you think about it?
Yes. Well, I think many artists just simply don’t have the time or energy to write. And yes you are right about having a story, music is essentially a message. It has to be studied, experimented, and most importantly lived. The job of an artist is to understand this message and share it with the audience.
In your book you go through your artistic journey, but also your personal journey, your life in Singapore, in France, between struggles, dreams, and hard work to become the great pianist you are now. Do you think, as an artist, that music never makes you stop wandering?
Well, I guess my passion for music will always keep me going. The path of a musician isn’t the easiest. I remember the first time I had to organise a piano concert at a local concert hall, it was terribly hard to sell tickets. I remember the times I had close to nothing for survival. I remember the times I was so nervous before going on stage I almost gave up. I remember the times I had to do 4 flight connections to get to the concert venue. I also remember the time I practiced so hard for a piano competition and went home empty-handed. All these experiences only made me stronger. We are and can only be the product of our experiences. I am probably still wandering!
Can you tell us about the beginning of your musical journey in Singapore?
I grew up in a very modest family. My parents provided music lessons from a very young age. To be honest, I wasn’t a hard-working child – I started playing seriously because of a school band where I served as the pianist. I only decided I wanted to be a musician at the age of fourteen. For most parts of my early education, I was learning the piano privately. I never went to a conservatory or a special school.
How did you keep going while life was being tough on you during your first years in Paris?
I lived one day at a time. Each day was a different battle. I had only to think about today and tomorrow. I guess no matter how hard life gets, life still goes on.
Is there a special chapter or paragraph in your book that you would like to share with us?
Oh this I love to repeat to my students: when I was a student my teacher always told me playing the piano is 99% hard work and 1% talent. Today, after everything I’ve been through, I say 90% luck, 9% hard work, 1% talent.
Luck is not a game of chance. You have to look for your luck. Some people say it’s destiny, some say it’s God’s plan. For me, I believe very strongly that music has a direct connection to the spiritual world. My luck comes only from God.
If you could give a piece of advice to all those young artists who may find themselves in your words, what would it be?
Make your dreams your reality. Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t look around you, don’t expect people to do things for you. Live life to the fullest and enjoy the process.
Your book will be available from December 27th, 2023, will you do a presentation or a recital for the release?
Yes, I am doing a couple of book signings. 27th December book launch at the Steinway Gallery in Singapore and 30th December at Steinway Gallery Bangkok.
What are your plans for the future?
Aside from my concerts, I organise several piano festivals to help younger pianists discover their talents. I am looking to expand my festivals (Piano Concerto Festival) in Portugal to Italy and Croatia, and (Piano Island Festival) in Singapore to Indonesia. I have also recently started a couple of piano boot camps in France and Thailand. I am very much looking forward to helping these young musicians make their dreams into realities.
Congyu, it was such a pleasure having you with us today, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
I just want to say that in today’s world. With war, diseases, and natural disasters making the headlines, life is getting more uncertain each day. Treasure every moment. I wish you love, health, peace, and a happy New Year 2024!