John Wu on stage in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
John Wu, winner of the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Awards for Performance Excellence, spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod about how he fell in love with playing the cello and the way he prepares for his performances. As winner of the Viola, Cello or Double Bass (12/u) event and runner up in the Viola, Cello or Double Bass (19/u) event, he also shared the best piece of perform advice he has ever been told.
Tell us why you love playing the cello.
Suzuki method inventor, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki said 'Man is the child of his environment. Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed'. I was a Suzuki student from the age of four and since the day I started playing the cello, I loved it deeply from my heart. When I play the cello, the music falls naturally from my fingers.
Who inspired you to start playing the cello?
My Mum believes that all children should learn music, so when I was four she decided to let me choose an instrument to study. She played from a CD a piano piece and a cello piece for me to hear. When I heard the cello piece, The Swan composed by Saint-Saëns, I immediately got caught in the devastatingly beautiful music and chose the cello as my first instrument.
Which other performers do you most like to listen to or watch, and why?
My favourite performers are Yo- Yo Ma and the 2Cellos which consists of Luka Solic and Stjepen Hauser.
Yo- Yo Ma represents all the traditional music in my eyes. Also, he is an excellent mentor and performer. I am also a fan of the 2Cellos. 2Cellos’ music makes people shocked. They take traditional music and adapt into modern music.
Tell us about one of the songs that you performed in the Sydney eisteddfod alf & pearl Pollard memorial Awards for performance excellence and why you chose it.
This was the first time I performed in the Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Awards of Performance Excellence and I played the Hungarian Rhapsody by David Popper. I also played it in the Viola, Cello or Double Bass (19/u) event in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod.
David Popper wrote this piece to fully develop the characteristics of the Hungarian style. Hungarian music is a very interesting traditional style of music, also known as folk music. This piece has a very strong story to it. Whenever I play this piece, I think of it as giving the audience a moving story.
What did you do to prepare for your performance?
Firstly, I spent a lot of time fixing the technical problems I had with this piece as it is very difficult. I hoped I would try my best and handle it! Secondly, during my lessons my teachers taught me a lot about the characteristics of Hungarian folk style as well as Hungarian people and language. This enabled me to have a better understanding about Hungary and I could now have a story in my head when I played the piece.
What is the best piece of performance advice you have ever heard?
The best piece of performance advice I have ever heard is from a professional musician who said that 'you should rely on your ears, no matter if you are practising or performing, not just your fingers or eyes'.
What have you learnt about yourself through performing in Sydney Eisteddfod?
I have learnt that you can’t be greedy and win everything. As long as you try your best it doesn’t matter what place you come.
What would you tell someone that was thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod?
I think Sydney Eisteddfod is the biggest music event in Australia! You have many opportunities to express yourself. You will obtain great experience, make more friends, and have a lot of fun… So, I will tell my friends, Sydney Eisteddfod is your Dream Stage, do not miss it!!