With the 2018 ‘Australian Young Performer of the Year’ Awards currently reaching its final stages in Sydney, Australia, VC recently caught up with a number of former top prize recipients, to get a better understanding of their time at the national competition – and the opportunities the annual event has since presented.
In a VC-exclusive guest blog, 2005 ‘Australian Young Performer of the Year’, violinist VC Artist Suyeon Kang talks us through her experience:
“It seems like such a long time ago! I must have been around 15 years old at the time, and traveling back and forth between Melbourne and Sydney to pursue a more active music life.
I entered the ABC Young Performers Awards upon my teacher’s suggestion – my teacher at that time being Alice Waten, who was coaching me at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne.
Competing by that time wasn’t an entirely new thing for me as previously I’d done quite a few of the smaller national ones – and I entered on a pretty naive basis – to be honest you’re still pretty much a kid at that age (well over a decade later I still feel like a kid…)
Trying to go back in time and recall the exact emotions during the event is a little difficult.
What I do remember is that I participated at that age where you soon have to stop being a whizz kid with fast fingers and a nice musicality, and the painstaking journey of becoming a proper musician begins.
There was probably quite a lot of self-doubt back then being right in the middle of my teenage years… I certainly remember being very grateful and surprised as I passed through to Stage 4 in Queensland (Stage 3 being the String Finals in Hobart), and having the chance, second time in a row, to perform a full concerto with one of Australia’s top orchestras.
That must have been the highlight for me, rather than the knowledge of winning the Grand Prize itself.
Receiving the top prize in this event helped that growth enormously, as the prize package included a string of performances – recitals and concerto appearances with some of the country’s most excellent orchestras, which lasted over a good two years before I relocated to Germany.
As musicians are aware, half the practise is done on stage – what you do at home to fine tune your art is only a small percentage of becoming a performer.
I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to enjoy my last two years in Australia doing that concert lap through the country.
As I’ve also experienced several times much later on, the aftermath of a competition is an invaluable place of self reflection and growth – no matter how it pans out.
It’s never easy to lose, and sometimes – believe it or not – it’s a hard thing to win!
I never feel, to this day, that I ever managed to really produce the best music during the events themselves (for the obvious reasons of nerves, a certain stiffness about competitions that one cannot avoid) – but I always had a spurt of improvement afterwards.
I wish all the participants in this edition a lot of luck!
The competition seems to have been reshaped so wonderfully – and seeing the list of competitors, some of which I know, the level will be extraordinarily high!
Wish I could be there for a part of it, but since I can’t – fingers crossed for everybody.