The sixth in our series of interviews with the jurors for the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia.
Timothy Walker AM is the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has previously held positions as Chief Executive of World Orchestras and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He has served on the Board of the International Society for the Performing Arts and has Chaired the Association of British Orchestras. He is currently on the Board of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Music Masters, Henry Wood Hall, Concerto Budapest and the Rachmaninoff Foundation. He has been a member of the jury of the London International Piano Competition, the Victor de Sabata Conducting Competition in Trieste and the Princess Astrid Music Competition in Trondheim. Walker has an honours degree in Arts, a Diploma of Music and a Diploma of Education from the University of Tasmania, a Diploma of Financial Management from the University of New England and is an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Music. He has been a consultant to The Australian Ballet, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo.
1. As a juror, what do you look for in a pianist taking part in a competition?
Technical proficiency, of course, but more importantly how well the artist conveys the spirit and meaning of the music. Is he or she faithful to the composer’s work? The artist must also have stage presence. He or she must command the hall and the instrument, make us want to listen, lead us to feel part of the performance, allow us feel emotionally involved and to take away a memory the concert so that it has not been a passing experience but a significant event.
2. Did you ever compete, yourself, and if so, what do you recall as being good and bad about the experience?
I never competed.
3. What advice would you give to competitors?
Be natural. Allow the music to convey your personality and character. Think about the line in the composition and allow the music to develop as a narrative that sings.
4. Do you think competitions are always a good thing, and what advantages do you think they give to winners?
Competitions are not always a good thing but might be good for drawing attention to an artist who is worthy of a career but may have been overlooked. They are a way of gaining attention.
5. For you, who are the greatest examples of pianists who have benefited from competition success in the past?
Simon Trpčeski, Nicholas Angelich, Behzod Abduraimov and Paul Lewis from the London International Piano Competition, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet from Honens Piano Competition, Van Cliburn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grigory Sokolov, Daniil Trifonov, Denis Matsuev, Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Pletnev from the Tchaikovsky Competition, and Leon Fleisher and Mitsuko Uchida from the Queen Elisabeth Competition, for example.
Tickets for the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia are now on sale.