This post marks the first birthday of the ‘Meet the Artist’ series, and to celebrate this, I am delighted to present an interview with pianist Lara Melda, winner of the 2010 BBC Young Musician of the Year.
Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and make it your career?
I originally started playing the piano after my sister began taking lessons. I was always trying to learn as she was practising! And from the moment I began lessons myself, I knew that I wanted to be a pianist.
Who or what are the most important influences on your playing?
My teacher, Ian Jones is a great influence to me; I am so grateful for his guidance and wisdom! And secondly my mother, who has stood behind me every step of the way – I would not have got to where I am without her constant support.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Sometimes it can be hard to balance school, a social life and the hours of practise required, especially when I was at the beginning of my journey, but now I have found ways to make it all work!
What are the particular challenges/excitements of working with an orchestra/ensemble?
It is always such a pleasure to work with orchestras, as pianists can get quite lonely on stage! Playing with others is always extremely inspiring, especially when I have been lucky enough to work with some wonderful orchestras such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Aurora Orchestra, Borusan Philharmonic, Northern Sinfonia, Sinfonia of Leeds, English Chamber Orchestra, the Maidstone, Aylesbury, Royal Tunbridge Wells and Worthing Symphony Orchestras.
Which recordings are you most proud of?
At the moment I haven’t made any recordings, as I am waiting for the right time and, to try and think of an extraordinary program to make my first CD, as I want it to be really special.
Do you have a favourite concert venue?
I am a huge fan of the Wigmore Hall – I have had the pleasure of performing there once. The acoustic is wonderful, and I especially love the intimacy of the hall.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Martha Argerich is my favourite pianist; her passionate playing has always been one of my biggest inspirations.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The finals of the BBC Young Musician has to date been the most exciting performance of my life, coupled with the fact that it was the performance to change my life forever, it was a night that I will never forget!
What is your favourite music to play? To listen to?
I love playing music from the Romantic era, especially Chopin and Rachmaninov. They are both composers who really stir something in my soul; I feel so at one with their music that it feels completely natural to play.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/students?
Practise makes perfect! There are always periods of difficulty, and times when you may feel like you are not getting anywhere, but with persistence and determination, anything can be achieved.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a programme consisting of the following, for my next recitals in April:
BACH Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor, Prelude and Fugue in D major from Well Tempered Clavier Part 1
CHOPIN Étude in C minor Op. 10 No. 12, Étude in F major Op. 10 No. 8 Nocturne in B major Op. 32 No. 1, Nocturne in G major Op. 37 No. 2, Scherzo No.1 in B minor
DEBUSSY Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir Les collines d’Anacapri Des pas sur le neige La cathédrale engloutie, Minstrels from ‘Préludes, Livre 1’
LISZT ‘Les Cloches de Genève’ from Années de pèlerinage, Book 2; Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto (after Verdi)
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would really like to have launched my international career, and have made some recordings that I can be proud of!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To be with the people I love most, and doing the thing that I love most – playing the piano.
Lara Melda performs at St James’s, Piccadilly, London W1 on 10th July in a charity concert for Street Child World Cup Rio 2014. Further information here
At the age of sixteen 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. The competition had an international following via television and radio broadcasts on the BBC. Since then she has also performed Mozart Concerto K466 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and next season will return to Cardiff to play Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3.
Lara’s concerto performances last season included the Northern Sinfonia with Kirill Karabits, Sinfonia of Leeds, Watford Philharmonic, and the Maidstone, Aylesbury, Royal Tunbridge Wells and Worthing Symphony Orchestras. Previous London concerto engagements have included Mozart with the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon (Kings Place) and English Chamber Orchestra (Cadogan Hall) and the Grieg Concerto with English Sinfonia (St John’s Smith Square).
Lara Melda performs regularly in Turkey and made her debut at the International Music Festival in Istanbul in June 2011, playing the Grieg Concerto with the Borusan Philharmonic. She has also been presented by the ‘Istanbul Recitals’ piano series and performed at the Antalya Piano Festival and Bogazici University. In 2012 she received the prestigious ‘Promising Young Artist’ award from Kadir Has University.
Recital appearances have included Les Sommets Musicaux in Gstaad (Switzerland), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival (Germany) and the Wigmore Hall. During this season Lara will perform at the Wiltshire Music Centre and many other venues in the UK.
Lara is a student at the Royal College of Music where she is a Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Scholar supported by a Musicians’ Company Lambert Studentship. She began piano lessons with Emily Jeffrey at the age of six and currently studies with Ian Jones. Lara is also an accomplished viola player and enjoys playing chamber music on both piano and viola. In 2009 she was a finalist in the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Weimar, Germany.
Lara Melda is very grateful for support from Non Worrall and Richard Williams.
Lara’s biography courtesy of Askonas Holt