Yiyun Gu plays the piano like a bookworm reads a book. Just like the reader uncovers new plots twists and turns, Gu discovers new meaning and emotion as her fingers play the compositions of Bach, Chopin
It’s no surprise that the Sydenham pianist, 29, has been selected to compete in one of the nation’s most prestigious classical piano competitions, the Australian National Piano Award.
Gu and 12 of Australia’s best young pianists will perform day and night in Shepparton for one week from September 8.
She will play with no music sheets in front of her as three international judges listen to every note played.
It’s the second time Gu has been selected to compete in the biennial competition, having taken part in 2012.
“I didn’t make it [to the finals], but it was a good experience to meet people and perform,” she says.
“I hope I can do better this time, but I don’t have a specific goal. It’s more important that you treat it as a performance, not a competition.
‘‘You can’t say ‘I ran faster than other people, I get the first prize’. Music is different, so I just want to enjoy it.”
Gu first sat in front of a piano aged three, when her parents enrolled her in weekly lessons and bought her her first piano.
“When I was around 12 or 13, I realised I really enjoyed it. Before that, it was just a thing forced by my mum,’’ she says with a laugh.
“I enjoy playing different pieces. It’s a way to express myself and take other people on my journey.”
Gu, who is practising up to five hours a day in the lead-up to the event, plays professionally and has performed at the 3MBS Beethoven Marathon and with the Melbourne University Symphony Orchestra at Melbourne Town Hall.