Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I don’t really remember how exactly it started, as music has been with me my whole life.
I heard music in my head and soon or later it needed to be let out. Luckily, we had an upright piano at home, so when I was 3 ½ years old, I started to spend hours at it, playing random keys, trying to replay what I had in my mind. My parents noticed that and did their best to give me good education. Interestingly, I have no musicians in my family.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Many people played huge role in bringing me to where I am now, and I am incredibly thankful to them.
I was 5 when I was introduced to the Stanevsky family (Felix Stanevsky was the Russian Ambassador to Georgia in 1990s). It was a tough time in Georgia. They treated me with so much love and care, helped me get acquainted with people who supported me in getting a proper education. They are like my family.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To get to the top of the musician’s career, this is a challenge, especially if you are honest, sincere and would like to stay with principles you believe in. Our profession is far from ideal, full of backstage intrigues, subjectivism. I envy sportspeople – they work so hard, but more depends on them, on the transparent results they achieve. And in our case, it is not enough to work hard and be talented; much depends on other people, circumstances, which you can’t influence. Luck is very important in achieving a great career as a concert pianist. It is not enough to be in the right place at the right time. You should be also ready to take all opportunities and show what you are able to do.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
Hard to say, as every season has its highlights. In March I made my debut at the Alte Opera, Frankfurt performing Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto to a full hall of 2500 people. I really love performing at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, which has a very special atmosphere; also at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. However, to be honest, I’m very rarely proud with the results, as I always think that I can do better’ I’m perfectionist, and I’d like to grow more as a musician and become deeper as a person.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
The romantic period is the closest to my soul, something which I think is naturally mine. I feel very strong connection with the music of Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and especially with Rachmaninov’s music.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I try to choose programmes myself, unless there are some special requests from the organisers. I try to create programmes based on a mixture of my taste and what the audience would like, and always want to keep this balance. I love to create an idea for every concert, to give some contrasts, so anyone can enjoy it.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Difficult to choose one. Every place has it own magic and energy.
But, probably, from the venues of last season I would mention Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. I love to work with their team. The halls and acoustics are just breathtakingly beautiful there.
It is very special to perform in Tbilisi, my hometown. There are different amazing venues, including Grand Hall of the Conservatoire.
I love to return to venues I have performed in, as well as to discover new ones.
I’m very much looking forward to my upcoming concert at London’s Southbank Centre and my debut at Montevideo’s Teatro Solis.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My debut in Budapest last year at the Liszt Academy, where people started applauding in a very specific manner, like waves, starting slowly and getting faster and faster, requesting encores – an amazing feeling!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To have the possibility to perform more. There are lots of venues I have not performed in yet, lots of beautiful pieces of music I have not yet played. I would love to have opportunities to perform more with orchestras and play chamber music as well.
I would also love to help young talented artists as well, to create more projects for collaboration. Hopefully, hard work, luck and smart time-management will help me and bring results one day.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Probably I would ask them if they really love what they do and tell them to never give up and wish them good luck.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would like to perform more, but I’d also like to do more composing, write some film music, and try conducting.
What is your most treasured possession?
Happy memories which are more priceless if they are shared with my beloved people.
What is your present state of mind?
Ready to conquer the world.
Luka Okros performs music by Chopin and Liszt at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London on 16 July. Further information
Luka Okros has established himself as one of the most promising pianists of his generation. Okros’s performances have been praised by critics as “intense, strong and natural, with an impressive creativity”. Lang Lang said about his performance of Liszt’s infamous Hungarian Rhapsody: “In such a technical work, he does not deprive musicality. This is a rarity!”.
By the age of 27, Luka has won many awards, including Piano Award by Tabor Foundation at the Verbier Festival, top prizes at the Hong Kong International Piano Competition, the Valencia Iturbi Prize International Competition and the Scottish International Piano Competition.