After first touching a piano at the age of four, and nearly ten years later--Hoang Pham Tra Mi now owns a big collection of prizes from many international piano competitions. She is among the ten most outstanding young people of Vietnam in 2011.
Tra Mi was born in Russia. She began playing with a piano when she was four. A friend of her parents changed his house and did not take with him his piano. The piano was given to Tra Mi as a gift. At that time, the little girl liked playing with the piano as a toy. One year later, she began studying how to play a piano.
Tra Mi says that she could not remember how she felt in her first performance on the stage because she was very small, but her mother said that Tra Mi was very confident and looked like a little princess on the stage.
At the age of nine, Tra Mi entered the piano faculty of the E.Grieg music school in Moscow. The headmaster directly tested the little girl and added her to the class of the chief of the piano faculty. Tra Mi still remembered her time with teacher Chistiakova Lubov Pavlovna, who was very picky in choosing her students.
Tra Mi says that Ms. Pavlovna was very strict but sentimental and very kind. Among her students, Tra Mi was favored to learn with her as long as she wanted, besides the two compulsory classes. After school, the teacher often invited her Vietnamese student to her home to share hear experience on the stage, etc.
Ms. Pavlovna introduced and encouraged Tra Mi to become a professional pianist. Whenever they practiced a new piece of music, the teacher told Tra Mi about the techniques and the meaning of the music work. After that the girl played the music work by her understanding and feeling. For difficult pieces of music, which require experience, Tra Mi had to learn about the biography of composers and the work to get right understanding.
“To play a music work about the grievances of a prisoner, I must imagine the scene and try to play the work to show that grievances. When playing music, I have to become the character in the music work to understand each musical note,” Tra Mi explains.
She says that she is lucky to play music when she was small. “Music helps me grow up and understand more about the life. Each piece of music is a story and I’m the story-teller,” she adds.
When she lived in Russia, Tra Mi participated in many piano contests in the city where she lived. Her first international competition was the F. Chopin contest in Singapore, where she won the first prize.
After that Tra Mi took a gold medal at the Asian Piano Festival in South Korea in 2010 and recently the first and second prizes at two competitions in Austria and France.
The competition in Austria is the most memorable to Tra Mi. She was proud to compete at a piano contest in Austria, the cradle of classical music, but she was worried because she had to perform under the eye of top experts.
“During the break, judges told me that the piece of music that I had played did not hear like it had been played by an Asian and I had made the work become lively. I told them that I was born and grew up in Russia but I’m a Vietnamese,” Tra Mi says.
Stephan Moller, Chair of the International Vienna Piano Association, Tra Mi and Dr. Ta Quang Dong, Tra Mi’s teacher.
The young pianist says that the most important thing for a pianist is transmitting composer’s idea to the audience. She also says that she has never satisfied with music works that she has played and she always tells herself to try her best.
After over ten years in Russia, Tra My returned to Vietnam when she was 12 and studied at the school of the Russian Embassy in Hanoi and the Vietnam National Music Institute in Hanoi.
Tra Mi studies at school in the morning, at the music institute in the afternoon. She is also busy with performances so she does not have time with friends. She likes reading books on psychology or drawing.
Most of girls at the same age with Tra Mi like pop music, especially Korean pop music but she only loves classical music. She plans to study at the Tchaikovsky Institute in Russia in the near future and become a professional pianist.
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