Tim Chaing shared with us his story

This is the first time Tim Chiang has entered the Australian National Piano Award. It's also the first time a full-time Dentist has made it as a finalist!

Tim Chiang Tim Piano 1

Questions & Answers – Profile

Name: Timothy Chiang (Tim)

Age: 28yo

When is your birthday? 6/8/1987

Where were your born?   Melbourne

Where do you live this year when in Australia: Melbourne –Doncaster East (with parents) – sister play piano – dad plays violin, mum is a piano teacher, (she’s a lawyer but can play piano).

YouTube clips of your performances?

Bach – Prelude and Fugue No 4 WTC II (BWV 873): https://youtu.be/H1iHhCNnQik

Chopin – Etude Op. 10 No 1: https://youtu.be/sIiDyfw7jCs

Liszt – Transcendental Etude No 12 “Chasse-neige”: https://youtu.be/mkJtGcSTFD8

Mozart – Sonata No 10 in C Major K330: https://youtu.be/ba6LU6oWk30

Rachmaninov – Variations on a Theme of Corelli Op. 42: https://youtu.be/l0ZaRL4wgxw

Franck – Prelude, choral et fugue: https://youtu.be/Pzaeq4RxSKk

Do you still study & where – when will you finish?

Not currently studying.  (didn’t study at music – studied with teacher – since 5 years, mum is a piano teacher and went to Scotch College). Practices at home.  C5 Yamaha – possible to play at Scotch on their Steinway.

Are you a full-time professional musician?  Nope, I’m a dentist.

What drew you to become a musician?

My mother teaches piano. She taught me when I was quite young, and from there I developed a growing love for music. I suppose once you reach a certain level of technical proficiency, the music speaks more and more as you ‘push the boundaries’ and experiment with different ideas, colours, textures, which has deepened my love for what you can do with music, and what music can do to communicate subtle feelings or insights to others that are otherwise not so tangible. It was from this that I decided to pursue music more seriously.

What else can you play?  When I as 9yo I asked my parents to let me learn the violin. Not wanting me to be too busy they were reluctant at first, but thankfully they agreed to let me. I think learning the violin has really helped me to understand classical music better, broadening my perspective from an instrumentalist’s view, both as a soloist, and being part of a chamber group or orchestra.

Do you sometimes perform in an ensemble?

In high school I played in more different groups, especially with violin; I played in a string quartet, piano trio, and also our String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra. Currently I don’t play in many groups, but sometimes play in a string quartet, with whom we play for weddings. I also play contemporary Christian music with my church band.

What is so special about the piano and its music?

Playing violin has made me really appreciate how much music you can ‘produce’ in piano. It is one of very instruments where you can have such full dense harmonies and being able to play with nuances of different harmonic textures, whereas in violin you usually play a melodic line, and cannot create such harmonic complexity in any case. Piano also has such a vast amount of contrasting repertoire, which translates from the broad range of colours and textures is it able to create, perhaps more so than any other instrument.

Do you sing?

I used to sing in our school choir and chamber choir at school. More recently, occasionally I have arranged various songs for acappella, some Christian songs, some pop songs, including a beat-boxer, which we have sung for various events. The human voice is so capable to such a wide range of sound as well.

What are you hobbies and why are you passionate about them?

I love fitness and weight-lifting, and am a bit of a gym-junkieJ it’s something I got into since uni. I’ve always felt it important to keep balanced with my lifestyle, and really believe that it is essential for one’s well-being. Besides from simply enjoying staying active, keeping fit and lifting weights is also very much in line with my values; it requires long-term consistency and persistence, and it’s about continually trying to improve from your lifts from one session to the next, reaching the next level in strength and fitness. If something doesn’t go right, you reassess your diet and training, and make changes until you’re progressing again.

Do you do a lot of travel?  Where have you been overseas etc?

I’ve done some travelling, but haven’t really to explored each place as much as I would have liked, as it has often been with a tour group. I have briefly been to many countries in Europe, Asia and USA, just getting a taste of each country’s culture; their economy, what they value, how the people interact with one another, etc. The most I’ve spent living in a country (still brief, but travelling more freelance), is Italy and Hong Kong. Italy has such a rich cultural history, and when I was there, it was so interesting to observe the contrast between the fast-paced fashion capital in the North (Milan etc), with the more relaxed but very warm and friendly open culture in the South. Hong Kong has a great public transport system which makes it very easy to get around. The main thing I’ve found with Hong Kong is the fast pace at which they live and their efficiency in everything they do, from getting things done, to economically using space. Both Italy and Hong Kong are great for shopping tooJ

What are your goals over the next two years?

I’d like to be able to establish my musical career more, have more opportunities for performing and sharing what I feel in music with others. Overall though my goals would be the same as at any other time in my life; to live life to the fullest, broadening my experiences, continually learning new things, and enjoying the journey as it goes on.

Who inspires you and why?

I’ve been reading a bit on Leonardo da Vinci recently. Leonardo da Vinci was such a genius, and renaissance man, excelling in everything he did. He had many setbacks as well though (eg. being born out of wedlock meant that he was traditionally barred from attending university or practising any of the noble professions of the time), and the thing the inspires me most about him was that he never let these set him back. He always trusted his gut in what he wanted to do, in his fate, and not to follow the trend when as a visionary he could see a different direction or possibility.

Which musician inspires you any why?   

There are so many! But if I had to pick one perhaps more left of the field, I recently discovered a pianist called Evgeni Bozhanov. He is so different, and clearly experiments a lot with different ideas, but is still very much fitting to what he feels with the music, and remains true to the composer’s intent. He has such a cohesive nature from piece to piece in his recitals as well.

Which composer’s music do you love and why?

Many of the classic greats; Bach, Mozart, Chopin, I love. But more recently I’ve been extremely intrigued (perhaps obsessed) with Scriabin’s music. His music has so much complexity in harmonies, texture, colour, and often in polyphony also. On a larger scale though, his music always has such a great vision and drive, very much so big picture appreciation. It’s also very interesting to see how his music has evolved from his earlier works to later ones as he experiments more with different things in his compositions.

Favourite modern – Robyn Fink R&B around 2004, Jenelle Monae Indi – R&B singer

Do you play sports?  I’ve always been into tennis. I started playing in primary school, though I only play it intermittently nowadays. I’m still a huge fan of the sport, and love watching Roger Federer.

Name 4 of your favourite things to do:

Deep meaningful conversation

Reading or listening to podcasts on psychology, philosophy

Playing or listening to music – radio station – Fox FM and Classic FM

The Gym

What’s your idea of fashion/what do you prefer to wear?

I like being somewhat diverse in what I wear day to day, though I stick with a few tried and true styles. I like to stand out a bit in my dress, but it’s more important that what I wear suits my build, skin colour, proportions etc, than just different. Often I’m simply wearing a t-shirt and chinos/jeans when going out, otherwise, at work or when performing I’m wearing the typical shirt, suit and dress pants, but it should always be well-fittedJ

How do you relax and unwind from rehearsing?

Trying not to think of the specific details of the music from the rehearsal I suppose, which can be very draining. Keeping the big picture of the music helps to me to stay passionate in the music. Otherwise, just hanging out with other people, working out, reading something inspiring or thought-provoking, keeping life balanced.

How do you care for your back etc. (to stop injuries etc)?

Technique is really important. When I’m preparing for something and increase the time I’m practising, it’s easy to start straining your fingers and hands more. It’s vital to always keep natural support, using your whole arm when you need to and not just straining from your forearms, keeping relaxed.

In my work also, posture is very important for keeping my back from straining. Working out and stretching also helps J.

Do you love the movies?

Depends how engaging the movie is. On one hand I feel like I’m just sitting there, but if the content of the movie is good then I’m having a good time.

List at least three bars / favourite spaces to hang out in Australia and why?

There are a lot of chic cafes in Melbourne that are great to hang out in, and they’re often a bit hipster/artisan, but very tastefully so lol. Besides that, I seem to be a regular at Pancake Parlour, as I’m a bit of a night-owl, and it’s open 24/7.

Glen Ferry – Café du black – spends heaps of time there, lunch at a pub called Platform 3 (Boxhill)

What is your favourite alcoholic drink?

I don’t generally drink, but if I had to pick, it’d be a good smooth refined beer like Stella Artois (I don’t like too much aeration), or Bailey’s.

Favourite meal / food / fruit and why?  Savoury would have to be a good tender wagyu steak with chips and veg/salad, salmon (either pan-fried or raw sashimi), any good French pastry, or crispy fried noodles.

Sweet, any rich dense chocolate or coffee dessert, or green tea ice-cream

I go in phases; for a while I was obsessed with raisin toast with heaps of butter

Do you compose your own music?   Composing has never really been something that I’ve been keen to do, but I do arrangements of songs for acappella, which seems to be a different type of creativity to composing.

What do you hope to get out of this Australian National Piano Award?

I’m so excited to perform and communicate my musical ideas, and hopefully it can inspire or give insights to the audience. The art of communicating through performing music is such a subtle but deep one that I feel is so particular, but also is unique in its own way. I’m also really looking forward to meeting the other contestants and engaging in their musical experiences and their journeys, as well as other music enthusiasts and their general insights.

How long have you been rehearsing for this event?

One could say since I started playing piano! It’s hard to say specifically for this event, but more so I think it’s a continually process and life-long journey of musically discovering new things, developing, and maturing as a pianist and musician.

How did you hear about the Australian National Piano Award? From my teacher Dr Mikhail Solovei