Getting to Know Tony Siqi Yun

September 20, 2022

Our 2022-23 Rising Star Series begins Sunday, September 25, with a performance by Tony Siqi Yun at 4 PM ET in the Wellspring Theater. Yun took some time after his daily four-hour practice to chat with us about his music, his year, and his debut with The Gilmore. 

Your accolades are growing! Pianist Magazine called you a poet, and ‘elegant and poised.’ How does that make you feel?
I would be lying if I didn’t say it made me happy. The idea of being a poet – that is something I work hard towards, for sure. I try to embody the essence of the music that I play, to convey responsibly what the composer is trying to say and what I want to say. Conveying your emotions is essential in playing music, and that’s my goal. I work on it every day. That’s why I play.

Are there any upcoming venues that you are looking forward to playing for the first time, or returning to?
Well, of course The Gilmore, as it will be my debut – so I’m really excited to be there. But another will be my subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. I will be doing the Robert Schumann piano concerto. 

Tell us about what you will be playing at your recital with us?
I will be bringing a program of Bach-Busoni, Beethoven, Liszt, Berio, and Brahms, all pieces that I absolutely adore. (See event page for full program)  

What are you working on musically for the future?
I’m always focused on building my repertoire, and at the moment, I’m working on the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, the Rachmaninoff concerti, some Schumann, and Beethoven’s sonatas – there are 32 of them. I bought nine of his symphonies and I’m working through them, and have actually been trying a little conducting with them. 

Can you think of something new that you have learned in the last year about performing or preparing to perform?
I guess I just try to be myself as much as possible when making music, and also to convey the emotion – whether it’s passionate, sad, happy, introspective – I need to convey that to audiences musically. I don’t want to be neutral. I’m also working on learning French!  

Is there a highlight of your year so far that has nothing to do with your music?
I took a family vacation to Switzerland with my parents and sister – she’s a lawyer, who also plays a little violin – and we had a great time. I love to drive whenever I get the chance, and living in New York that’s not very often. I was able to drive something like 800 kilometers in Switzerland. 

What would be your advice for young pianists who want to turn their passion into a career?
I think this applies to music or anything you love to do; if you are really passionate, it’s just important to put in the hard work and be patient, if it’s something you love and you cannot live without. 

How old were you when you figured out you could not live without the piano?
I was 13 or 14, and had started performing and realized ‘This is the life I want to live.’ It’s something I  really love doing.  

When did you become aware of The Gilmore?
I first met Pierre (van der Westhuizen) in Germany about 4 years ago, and he invited me to visit, so that was my primary interaction. But when I was at Juilliard’s pre-college program, we were aware of the Gilmore Young Artist award, so I feel like I’ve known about The Gilmore for a long time. 

Is there something you enjoy when you are not playing, practicing, or traveling, and who travels with you?
My mom comes with me some of the time, otherwise I’m on my own. Here in New York, I love to walk, but wherever I am, I like to walk to explore a city. Especially when I’m on tour, I love exploring new cities and new cultures, and discovering new food. 

We so appreciate Tony Siqi Yun sharing his thoughts with us! Buy an in-person or livestream ticket today for his concert on Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 4 PM ET.

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