Dr. Frank Huang, who will revisit his hometown Seattle in mid-November to perform for the Resonance Masters’ Series, was kind enough to take a few moments from his day to share some thoughts about music and life with series producers Qin Ying Tan and Irwin Shung. Here is their conversation.
Resonance Masters’ Series (RMS): Tell us about your musical beginnings.
Dr. Huang: I come from a background where I am the only professional musician in my family. My mother often jokes that I am where I am today because she took piano lessons when she was pregnant with me! During my childhood, my parents were always supportive and encouraged me to work hard at whatever I did. Reflecting back, I am thankful for their support and for giving me the freedom to enjoy the piano at my own pace. I often wonder if my career would have blossomed even more if my parents had been professional musicians, but I believe that having independence at an earlier age helped me grow in many different ways.
RMS: Every musician has a unique relationship to his or her craft. How did you decide to become a professional pianist?
Dr. Huang: The decision to pursue a career in music seemed to happen quite naturally for me–almost as if I was answering a calling. Fortunately, my family was really supportive of my dreams and goals. The idea of being able to share music with others and exploring the vast piano repertoire was, and still is, a source of inspiration and motivation.
RMS: The Seattle/Eastside area has a terrific base of young musicians. What advice would you give to a student considering a career in music?
Dr. Huang: To learn as much as possible and be curious in constantly developing your craft. If you encounter a new piece that is unfamiliar to you, jot down the name of the work, or better yet–find the music and read through it! If you have a chance to perform in an ensemble, but don’t have much experience in collaborating with others, grab that opportunity! Always look to expand your musical knowledge and experience as much as you can. Curiosity is an essential quality in order to become a successful classical musician.
RMS: Do you have any current or planned musical projects besides your performances and teaching?
Dr. Huang: Yes, I do. I am excited to announce my new online recital series, Rallentando. On select Wednesdays at 8:30PM ET, I will stream short performances live to Facebook and Instagram. The idea behind this project was that I wanted people to relax and enjoy some classical music at the end of their day with me. These performances are meant to be fun and light. Another project that I am proud to share is my online blog, where I write on various topics, including my passion on lesser-known works and several how-to posts. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and influence beyond my responsibilities at Miami University.
RMS: Can you offer us a few thoughts about practice?
Dr. Huang: Practicing is a creative activity. It took me a very long time to realize and understand that practicing is much more than just developing one’s technical and musical skills–it gives one the opportunity to investigate the finer details of a piece of music. In general, I believe that many students feel that practicing is a mere mechanical activity: slow practice, hands separately, work with metronome, put hands together and gradually build up speed. But there is so much more to that! To me, practicing is like detective work: asking series of questions, incorporating trial and error, analyzing, and problem solving.
RMS: Tell us a bit about your unusual program for your upcoming recital at Resonance. How did you decide on this particular repertoire?
Dr. Huang: In general, I am very interested in things that are off the beaten path: music, food, art, and travel. I think it’s because I am always looking to try new things! That is why forgotten Russian-romantic composer, Nikolai Medtner, intrigues me. He was a contemporary of Rachmaninov and wrote a substantial amount of piano works, yet his music is not known by the public. Recently, I have embarked on a massive recording project of a nine-disc set of his complete solo piano music. I look forward to sharing some of these works back here at home! In my opinion, his music deserves to be heard!
Ticketing and information for Dr. Huang’s recital may be found here.