Honens Prize Laureate Katherine Chi to light up National Music Centre
First Canadian, first woman to take prestigious prize still gets nervous before a performance
The first Canadian and first woman to be named Honens Prize Laureate — Katherine Chi — will take to the stage this weekend at the National Music Centre and says even after all of those years tickling the ivories, she still gets nervous before a performance.
"Yes. Without a doubt," Chi told The Homestretch on Thursday.
The Toronto-based, Calgary-raised pianist remembers her first concert and where it led.
"It was in Mount Royal College, Leacock Theatre. It was sold out. I remember the stage being completely packed, even extra chairs being added on. I was nine I think," she explained.
"I had worked very, very hard for that concert and my teacher at that time also worked very intensely with me.
It went relatively well for a first-time, big-time performance. I think that also was a big spark for me to continue moving on forward."
The following year, she was accepted to a prestigious U.S. school of music.
"I decided to go to The Curtis Institute of Music and was very fortunate to be accepted at a very young age, at 10. My parents moved all the way there, it was a huge sacrifice for them and for me to pursue my dreams."
Chi's performance at Honens in 2000 opened some doors.
"I had just recently won a competition in Italy and that gave me the boost to try out Honens and from then on, it allowed me to have management in New York and then to continue playing piano which has been a dream come true and a great privilege," she said.
Competing at this level, is a nice break from the isolation of practicing, Chi said.
"It's great to come across people and to meet new friends and colleagues and to play together. Piano is an extremely solitary instrument, so practicing alone and having the chance to come out and collaborate is a great thing."
Chi hits the Studio Bell stage on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Honens International Piano Competition runs Thursday to Sunday in Calgary.
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With files from The Homestretch