LSM Newswire

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mount Royal Conservatory students perform Olympian-style musical feats

Mount Royal Conservatory Students perform Olympian-style musical feats
Tuesday Aug 26, 2008

The final count is in and Canadian athletes have taken home a total of 18 medals at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. Outside the sports arena, summer also produced wins for Mount Royal Conservatory students who led internationally and nationally in the field of music. In early August, Tiedan Yao won first prize at the prestigious Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition in Rochester, New York, having outperformed 23 contenders (aged 15-18) from around the world.

The 16-year-old champion impressed the globally-selected panel of judges in several intense rounds of competition, securing the gold medal with what the local Democrat and Chronicle newspaper describes as "a spectacular and sparkling version of Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto. Through the lightness of the music, he (Yao) demonstrated brilliant control laced with feeling."

In addition to the $4,000 cash award, Yao, who is a student in the Academy of Music at the Conservatory, also received $1500 in other special prizes, including the audience choice award. And although the highly-gifted musician is still two years away from graduating from high school, Yao has been offered a four-year full tuition scholarship at the Eastman School of Music upon graduation.

"This was my first time travelling outside of Canada for an international competition and I'm so happy to have won. Between the nerves, excitement and happiness, it was a great experience. Everyone was very focused and played really well, so it made me play my very best," says an excited Yao.

Conservatory student Jan Lisiecki also finished ahead of the musical pack in August. The 13 year old now adds the title of 2008 grand prize winner of the National Music Festival to his medal-laden resume. After taking on 59 other classical musicians and choral groups from across Canada, Lisiecki was one of seven to advance to the final rounds for the top spot and $5,000 prize.

According to the director of the Mount Royal Conservatory both students are potent piano forces whose skills and training are not unlike those of Olympic athletes. "To perform at the artistic level demonstrated by Tiedan and Jan requires the same dedication, discipline and specialized training that we see with our Olympic athletes in sports like gymnastics or diving," says Paul Dornian, who goes to compare the two disciplines physically and psychologically.

"Playing the piano is a physical process and these young people train their muscles and hone their reactions for many hours a day. Of course, they work with the small muscles in the hands and arms rather than large muscles that athletes need to develop - but like elite athletes - they must constantly be in training," explains Dornian.

In addition to the physical similarities, playing concerts or competing in international competitions poses the same psychological challenges of athletic competition and requires the same mental discipline and poise of a winning athlete. "At the level of competition these young artists are involved in - the competitors are all strong and the difference between winning and losing is usually who has prepared the best, and who engages the audience and the jury most effectively," says Dornian, who concludes the eventual result is a combination of technical skill and creative artistry.


 Silvana Saccomani
 Senior Public Relations Consultant

 Mount Royal College Conservatory
 4825 Mount Royal Gate S.W.
 Calgary, AB T3E 6K6
 Ph    403. 440.6710
 Cell  403. 827.4415



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