Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
When I was a toddler, my mum used to take me along with her when she was attending piano classes as there wasn’t anyone to babysit me. Though I was playing with my toys while she was learning, over a period of time I began to hum everything my mum was taught. It was her piano teacher, the late Sally Rose who realized that I had a ear for music and offered to give me lessons. I began to enjoy the classes and also developed a taste for classical music.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
The most important influences in my musical life have been the greatest artists and composers past and present. Each one brings something original to the table. I am very much influenced by works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. I also enjoy Prokofiev and Ravel. Among current pianists, I am intrigued by Daniel Barenboim’s interpretations, Evgeny Kissin’s sound and Lang Lang’s personality which brings inspiration to a lot of young pianists.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The whole journey has been a challenge since I don’t come from a musical family and everything works by trial and error. Every turning point has been a moment of challenge, but the journey has been worthwhile. To give an example, when I first decided to be a concert pianist when I was 9 years old, it looked like a very delusional dream to many people. However, through hard work and dedication and the support of some fantastic piano teachers, I was able to get into the prestigious school Purcell School for Young Musicians with scholarship, and I also won some major international competitions. This not only helped boost my confidence but also reinforced my determination to succeed. After each milestone, you reach a point when you need to adapt, transform and move ahead to pursue your dream.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
There are a couple of performances which stand out as milestones in my musical journey at different ages. The most significant was when I performed at The Purcell Room, Southbank Centre when I was 8; the next big moment was when I was 9 years old and performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York as winner of an international competition. Since then, I have had other proud moments such as being selected as Music Ambassador by the Lang Lang International Music Foundation and performing with Lang Lang himself in Warsaw; performing the Chopin Concerto No.1 with the Reading Symphony Orchestra, other concerto performances with orchestras in the UK, and winning international piano competitions.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Based on audience feedback, I have a natural penchant to play Beethoven and Chopin pieces with emotion and musicality. It has been heart-warming to receive very positive feedback from these concerto performances and my solo piano recitals.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
My repertoire choices are largely driven by what I like and what my piano teacher Professor William Fong recommends. It is also affected to a large extent by the opportunities that arise. If I find something new and something that pricks my interest and curiosity, then I would learn it.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Among all the places I have performed so far, I like the Carnegie Hall in New York City and Teatr Polski in Warsaw, Poland. I would love to perform at the Royal Albert Hall someday because it is the biggest and the grandest hall in the UK and some of the greatest musicians perform there.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The Reading Symphony Orchestra would stand out as my recent and most memorable experience since it was my first commercial concerto performance. It was a sold-out concert and the audience were very appreciative of my performance of the Chopin Concerto No. 1 and my encore of Liszt’s La Campanella. I have been invited by the conductor to perform with the orchestra again.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
This is probably very simple, and it is my own definition. As long as I can perform regularly and inspire and move my audiences then that is success for me. Luckily, I have been very successful in doing that based on all the positive feedback I have received after my performances.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would encourage people= to explore their talent and pursue their dreams, whatever they may be. It will be good for parents to support their children all the way to fulfil their dream. For those starting to learn an instrument, try and always enjoy it. It truly is rewarding because it comes from within and not affected by any of the external prejudices.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would like to have fulfilled my dream of being a concert pianist and try to inspire many more youngsters to take up classical music.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me having a purpose and working towards a certain goal is true happiness. I feel very joyful when I am fully immersed in music and nothing else really matters.
What is your most treasured possession?
Most definitely my piano but hopefully a composition soon.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Apart from playing the piano, I enjoy reading books, watching funny videos on YouTube and sometimes playing the drums.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m always itching to learn not just as much repertoire as possible but everything in general.
Rhys Concessao is 14 and started learning piano at the age of 5. At the age of 11 he was accepted into the top specialist music school, The Purcell School for Young Musicians, UK with a scholarship. He is also a Sir Elton John Scholar at the Royal Academy of Music.
He has participated successfully in a number of international competitions, music festivals, and music courses in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania and Singapore, to name a few, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, New York, Teatr Polski, Warsaw, and London’s Southbank Centre.
Rhys studies with renowned teacher Professor William Fong.