the music world’s infant terrible returns to Worthing; The Denton, Thurs 12th November
Bangkok-born pianist Poom Prommachart is no stranger to these shores. He graduated from the Royal College of Music (RCM) in 2013 with a Masters Degree in Performance (Distinction). That same year he won the 2013 Sussex International Piano Competition in Worthing. 2014 saw him earn the prestigious International Artist Diploma at RCM, and he continues his international career playing world-famous concert halls throughout Europe, Asia and Australia. Though still a young man, he has been described as having “an international reputation as an outstanding performer of rare expressive depth”.
This November will see Prommachart returning to Worthing for the only Interview Concert to be presented this year. Staged in the round at Denton on the Pier, the concert will be an excellent opportunity to see, at close hand, the skill of this extraordinary pianist. In anticipation of this visit we were able to interrupt Prommachart’s busy schedule to quiz him.
You were the winner of the 2013 Sussex International Piano Competition, how do you feel it affected you?
I hate competitions! It is the worst way to find your musical talent, like having your personality judged, after this one I never do a competition again! But what I found in the Sussex Competition was the warmth of the audience, the warmth of the jury members, the warmth from the artistic director John Gibbons, the staff were incredibly nice, so were my host family, they treated me like a prince, and the Assembly Hall is a wonderful hall to play. So the Sussex Competition was a very special competition for me. Tragically, on semi-final day I received news that my father passed away. In the final I played with such feeling – the Rachmaninov Concerto is my most favourite concerto to play – so it was one of the most wonderful times in my life and something I will never forget.
How was it being on the 2015 Sussex International Piano Competition Jury?
I was very nervous as I was the youngest jury member. I had the feeling it was difficult for them to trust me because they thought I was not so experienced. But I’m a pianist and, if you think about it carefully, everybody has ears. But because not everybody on the jury is a pianist we all have different ideas. We cannot judge a competition with personal taste so when I judge, I only judge the pianism of the contestant. If the person is very special and can make me listen to him or her, I would pick that person.
I found it very difficult because we did not always agree. I remember there was one Japanese girl who played so absolutely incredibly beautifully it brought me to tears, but she did not pass. It left me with such a pained feeling after the first round because I didn’t feel we made the right decision. And in the semi-final Anna Bulkhina who is, I think, one of the most special pianists I have ever seen in my life, her Schumann was so incredible, but she did not pass to the final, despite all the pianists on the jury putting her through. Being on the jury is not easy and you have to control yourself when something is not right. It is very difficult, but in the end I presume we all are friends – I really hope so!
You have some significant musical projects started in Bankok; can you tell us about these?
I am appointed Kawai international artist representing the Kawai piano. This provides me with, amongst other things, an international recording label and concert tour in many cities, which is wonderful.
The other wonderful thing to happen is I will also be helping at the music school in Bankok that my father started. We take a group of children who want to become serious concert pianists from a very young age, so I’m working on that.
And I’m appointed professor at Mahidol College of Music University in Bankok, which is very special. And I have recitals and masterclasses in Cambodia and the Philippines, and I have been invited to be on a jury of the International Chopin Piano Competition in Singapore. But I prefer life in Europe more than in Asia because the Asian culture will only look at how old you are. In England people look at you at what you are. So for me to come back and receive the professor position as a very young pianist is tough. I guess I’d say my life is wonderful but I’m not only a pianist, I’m an educator for a new generation of pianists as well. So I have to be really strong.
In 2014 HRH the Prince of Wales presented you with the Tagore Gold Medal for your great contribution to Royal College of Music. How was that for you?
This award is so special but, I have a really big but… this medal or First Prize for Sussex Competition, does not make me become a better pianist. So you feel very happy with this medal, for that day you have been acknowledged for great contribution, and then tomorrow, carry on practising. That’s what I’m doing all the time, to keep improving… I will improve myself until I’m 100. You just have to play new repertoire all the time to make your brain not too lazy to learn the score.
But to receive this award from Prince Charles was very special, Murray Perahia and many other wonderful musicians were there, including my Russian professor Dina Parakhina, so it was such a special occasion. But I was really sad because I didn’t want to leave London.
In November I’ll be back again. I’d really like to come back and teach in the UK again, I have a feeling that is the place for me.
Poom Prommachart’s solo Interview Concert at The Denton on November 12th (7.15pm)
Tickets from http://worthingtheatres.co.uk/book-tickets/