Pianist Hannah Shin recently auditioned for the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition digitally using the Yamaha Disklavier at the piano company’s Premium Piano Centre in Melbourne. Limelight spoke to Shin about the audition process and what the technology means for pianists competing internationally.

Hannah ShinHannah Shin playing at the Yamaha Premium Piano Centre. Photo: supplied

What attracted you to the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition?

Participating in the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition would be a great opportunity for me to build up and polish more repertoire, as well as giving me the opportunity to showcase my performances on stage. I think that being able to perform with other musicians from around the world and to get to know others who share the same passion for music as myself is a truly enriching opportunity.

How is the audition process different to other competitions?

The Disklavier Video Recording component of the audition process is unique to this competition because instead of a live audition, the performance is recorded on the Disklavier and played back on another Disklavier with the recorded video at the same time. But since you can only make the recording on the Disklavier piano once, it works in the same way as a live audition.

What repertoire did you play and why?

I performed El Amor Y La Muerte (Love and Death) from Goyescas by Granados, the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in D major, K. 311, Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No 2 and Debussy’s Feux d’artifice from his Preludes. I chose these pieces because they are all special to me in various ways, for example, I think that the Mozart Sonata is a piece which represents my personality very well, and with the Granados, I feel that it is a great piece where I can show maturity as well as understanding of the music, which are important qualities of a musician.

Hannah Shin, Yamaha, PianoHannah Shin playing at the Yamaha Premium Piano Centre. Photo: supplied

What was the recording experience like for you?

The recording took place at Yamaha’s new Premium Piano Centre. It has so many beautiful pianos on show but due to the nature of the competition, we recorded on the Disklavier. It didn’t really feel like a recording at all though, it felt more like a performance than anything, as I was also being filmed, I played through my recital as I might in a live performance.

What were some of the challenges of recording your audition using the Disklavier?

I think that as in a live audition, recording with the Disklavier doesn’t give you the opportunity to re-record if you aren’t satisfied with your first take, so I think trying to achieve my best in one take was a challenge.

How was it different from performing on a ‘regular’ piano?

Actually, there are no differences at all. The Disklavier feels and works just like a regular piano, and I find it fascinating the amount of high tech that can enable the piano to reproduce my performance so accurately.

Is this something you would use again for other recorded auditions?

I think that using the Disklavier as part of the audition process is a great way to simulate a live audition without the need for the jury to travel to all the different cities around the world, and from a competitor’s perspective, being able to audition for a major competition through the Disklavier process makes the competition more accessible, in terms of getting to the audition itself.


Hannah Shin will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27 K. 595 with the Maroondah Symphony Orchestra at Cowes Cultural Centre on Phillip Island on March 25

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