Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
My mother is a classical music lover. She dreamt of playing the violin in her youth but didn’t have a chance to pursue this dream. Therefore, she took all of us, her four children, to a music school in Kyiv. That’s how it all began. I started playing the piano quite early, at the age of four, simply because at this time we already had a piano at our home. Playing on stage was fascinating for me as a child, and it still is.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My teachers remain the most important influences on my musical life; I was lucky to learn from truly profound musicians, though in my opinion, we can learn and be inspired by everything – performances of other musicians (especially live), recordings, all types of arts, literature, etc. Sometimes even discussing some classical music topics with colleagues can bring ideas to your mind.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
It is good to know your strengths and use them, but it’s more important to discover your weaknesses and improve on them. I consider working on my weaknesses and improving myself the greatest challenge of my career so far.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
My debut CD is coming out in 2020 on Naxos, consisting of 20th-century works by Debussy, Ginastera, Ligeti and Prokofiev. I tried to achieve my absolute best with this recording and remain quite happy with the final result. I would be delighted if you listen to this CD when it is out!
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
It might be better to ask listeners for their opinion. I feel most confident playing Prokofiev, Scriabin and Liszt. At the same time, I try to reach my best in every piece I perform.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
There are numerous pieces I would like to perform and I try to put at least a few of them in my programmes. It is very important to combine the repertoire in the right way, creating a programme not only interesting for the audience but also for myself, making musical and semantic connections between the pieces. For example, this season I will be performing Gesänge der Frühe, op.133 by Robert Schumann which is not a very well-known piece, but highly interesting and in a way unique, a great example of the late Schumann’s period. In order to make the piece more accessible for the audience, I placed it in between two Rhapsodies, op.79 by Johannes Brahms and the Dante Sonata by Franz Liszt – the highlights of both composers’ heritage. I think it gives listeners a chance to discover a piece which would be probably new for them and also enjoy the pieces they are already familiar with.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I love Japanese concert halls; recently I performed at Minato Mirai Hall in Yokohama – it was an absolutely fantastic experience! The acoustics is wonderful there, it allows you to fully melt in pianissimo without missing any note and at the same time keep the audience’s attention. Salle Cortot in Paris has a very special atmosphere, I like to perform there too. However, there are so many great venues where I haven’t performed yet! I very much hope to get a chance to play there one day.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I have great memories from various concert halls with wonderful pianos. I believe in a special connection and unity between the instrument and musician, so these details are very important for me while performing. There are definitely some memorable moments at every performance of mine because the performance itself is a big happening already.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Being successful for me means to continuously growing as a musician and as a person, and not to stop searching for the truth in music.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
In my opinion, the most important aspect would be to love the music with all your heart. A professional musician needs to put in daily a lot of effort and hard work for many years, so it’s just impossible to do this without loving what you do. Also, I think it’s important to reveal your personality through music, to find yourself in music and grow with it together. In the end, I believe that everyone can find their own inspiration and motivation to be a musician, it’s all very personal.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To live in harmony with myself and our planet, to be with the people I love, and to be able to fulfil all my career dreams and wishes.
Dmytro Choni makes his debut at Wigmore Hall on November 27, 2019 in music by Brahms, Schumann, Liszt and Rachmaninov. More information and tickets.