March 1, 2012

2010 New Frontiers grants awarded to IU faculty

Dear Mr. Auer,

This is Chan Shin, the editor of International Piano Korea. We are putting the article about your recital in Korea for the Mach issue. Thank you for accepting the interview. The questionnaire is as below.

- Please tell me how you are getting along.

Well, I am on Sabbatical leave this semester, and I really thought I would be less busy than I am when I'm teaching 18 students! Yet somehow I still feel there's never enough time. But I am well, and looking forward very much to playing again in Korea.

- You have had performed in Korea several times. What's your impression of Korean audience?

First of all, it is exciting that the Korean audiences are so youthful. In the West we often complain that almost the whole audience is old folks! There is a lot of enthusiasm among Korean youth for classical music, and it's really beginning to seem like the whole future of western Classical music is largely in the hands of the Koreans and the Chinese.

- Your recital in this time in Korea is going to be a part of series of the 'celebration of Debussy's 150th anniversary.' Pascal Devoyon and many brilliant Korean Musicians are participating. How do you feel about participating in this series?

It is an honor for me to be included in this excellent series. I have often been told that my style of playing would go well with Impressionist music, but I have played rather less of it than of other music. So it is not only a great honor, but a great challenge as well.

- What do you think of composer Debussy? And what's the character and fascination of Debussy would you like to express through your performance?

There is a story about Debussy that I love. It seems that when he was quite young and very poor, and married to his first wife, he went to the open market to buy food for the week. At the market he discovered a square of silk for sale. He gazed at it and touched and caressed it. It was terribly expensive, but absolutely irresistible. Well, he came home with the silk, and they had hardly anything to eat for that week!

Debussy's music is perhaps a little like that, sensuality is central to it--the refinement of his ear and the voicing of his chords are extraordinary. Debussy is also amazingly modern, musically forward-looking for his time. That is one of many big differences between Debussy and his contemporary, Ravel, who was a musician of partly modern sensibilities, was also deeply Classical in his composing.

-  You're supposed to perform Estampes, En blanc et noir: trois morceaux pour deux pianos, and Preludes BookⅡ. What gives you the motive for choosing this pieces?

The second book of Preludes is one of his last important works for the piano, and I'm very excited about playing it. I had, indeed, played four of these Preludes when I was a student, but now I really see much more in them, and it is a terrific challenge to try to do justice to this extraordinary music. En blanc et noir is even later in Debussy's life. The First World War had begun, and Debussy was deeply troubled and depressed by the brutality and loss of life. The second of the 3 pieces is dedicated to a soldier he knew who was killed in action against the Germans, and contains obvious musical references to war, as well as quotes from a famous hymn by Martin Luther (representing the enemy) and a vague but unmistakable reference to the French anthem La Marseillaise. (Debussy also cites the Marseillaise at the very end of the last Prélude on the program, Feux d'artifice.) Not only is this music deeply thrilling to me, but it also gives me a chance to perform with my wife, Junghwa Moon.

As far as Estampes is concerned, I'll be frank: I selected this Suite because I've played it before!

- What would you like to say to your Korean fans and audiences?

Buy tickets!!! Come!!!

Seriously, I feel myself closer and closer to being Korean, and it is really with a feeling of speaking to my own people that I want to invite you and share this extraordinary music with you, which I will deliver to you as beautifully as I possibly can.

- You've achieved and have done lots of works as a pianist and a professor. What's next for you? Do you have any plans for the future? And through your whole life, what would you like to accomplish as a musician?

Right after my Debussy recitals in Seoul and Gwangju I play the Chopin E minor concerto in NY with the New York Classical Players, and then another Debussy recital in Paris. And my recording of the Chopin concertos with the Shanghai String Quartet will finally be released in early April this year. It was recorded for the 2010 Chopin bicentennial celebration!
But my general plans for the future are the same as ever. I hope to contribute toward raising the level of music-making in the world and particularly in Korea and the US. I intend to make a few more recordings of Chopin, Schubert and Beethoven, and--who knows?--perhaps of Debussy.

This is it!
I would like to thank you for the time.
Best regards,
Chan Shin.