NEW YORK—Out of 14 talented pianists, six finalists emerged on stage at Carnegie Hall Oct. 5, 2014, during the Future Stars Recital as part of the New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television’s International Piano Competition.
Tania Rivers-Moore from France received an Honorable Mention Award.
Moore was described as a “prodigally gifted newcomer … of clearly star potential” by Bernard Jacobson of MusicWeb International following her performance of Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy” with the Bremerton Symphony in October 2010. She performed at a Harvard University panel in collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Brooklyn Rider string quartet.
Moore had some interesting thoughts to share on the experience of playing in an international competition, and her unusual path in life.
Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Epoch Times: What age did you start playing the piano? Did you love it straight away?
Tania Rivers-Moore: I started when I was seven and a half [and] was living in France at the time. I moved to the U.S. when I was eight, so I switched teachers and I got [to learn from] a really high-level piano teacher. When I was really little I would practice five minutes a day, and gradually it got more serious. When I went to college—I went to Harvard and studied Neurobiology—I started playing piano more and more, actually, even though I was studying another subject, because I felt really self-motivated. My piano teachers got better and better too. I studied with Alexander Korsantia at the New England Conservatory while I was in college, as private lessons.
Epoch Times: How long do you practice every day?
Ms. Moore: In the last few years of college and when I was preparing for competitions it was up to six hours a day, sometimes even more, although that wasn’t every day.
Epoch Times: What made you decide to participate in the NTD competition?
Ms. Moore: I went to a music festival in Perugia, Italy, and I got a music lesson with Antonio Pompa-Baldi, and he posted on Facebook that he would be giving a master class in this competition. I was also encouraged that the rounds were so short, because usually for international piano competitions you have to prepare for months or even years, but for this one it was relatively straightforward.
Epoch Times: What is your advice to pianists about entering in competitions?
Ms. Moore: I think that throughout the time that you are doing piano competitions, it’s really important to remember why you’re playing. And if you’re doing so many competitions that it starts to be the only thing you know about playing piano, you forget why you’re playing music in the first place—it’s too much. But if you feel like you’re in a balanced place in your life where you’re internally driven but you also want to share your music with the world and get more exposure, as well as want a really quick way to challenge yourself, a competition is a great thing to be doing.
Epoch Times: What is the most important thing when you are playing in a competition?
Ms. Moore: It’s especially important to keep your focus every single second because you can’t lose the audience. I do a lot of mental practice—so imagining what it will be like on stage and how the progression of the piece is going to go. And that’s different to normal practice because when you’re on stage you’re in a heightened state of attention, and if you haven’t prepared that in advance, it’s really easy to lose track of it. So create a drama for the piece that you’re going to play, especially since the rounds at NTD are so short, and really stay in the zone and be emotionally connected that whole time.
Epoch Times: So, essentially you are visualizing the performance?
Ms. Moore: Yes, the more you practice, the more you can hear every single note in your mind and even picture what fingering you’re going to play with—because one’s kinetic and the other is auditory—then the more you know that it’s going to go well on stage. It almost builds confidence faster than practicing does. Especially when you’re in a new city and you might not have as much practice time because you’re not at home with your piano, it’s a great way to prepare.
Epoch Times: What do you consider to be the hardest piano piece to play or the hardest composer to play?
Ms. Moore: A piece that was really difficult for me was Chopin’s third piano sonata because it’s very deceptive. The first movement is incredibly challenging both technically and musically, and if you don’t have the technical mastery you can’t get the musical phrases and details across; but it might not sound so challenging to the audience. I think those kinds of pieces are the hardest because they’re not necessarily the most showy or flashy—because you can get away with more in flashy pieces—and Chopin’s third sonata is also hard because it takes a lot of endurance to go through all four movements. The fourth movement requires so much energy; it gets more and more intense as it goes along, so to pull it off is definitely a feat.
Epoch Times: Who are your favorite composers and why?
Ms. Moore: I love to both listen to and play Bach. I love listening to Bach on different instruments because he was such a genius and he wrote for so many different forms: for singers, for choirs, for period instruments. Listening to his pieces on harpsichord, for example, we can learn something about timing in piano playing. Also, I find that the more you can play Bach, the better you can listen to [his music]. I also love Brahms.
Epoch Times: What is the quality of Bach that you particularly enjoy, apart from the fact that you learn so much from his music?
Ms. Moore: It’s so hard to put into words. But if you look at Bach’s music, it’s quite mathematical, and it’s amazing the way that he put it together—almost like a puzzle—but then the reason why he wrote his music, and what he said about it so many times, was that it was written for God and written for the church. And so, at the intersection between reason and emotion, Bach’s music is the most intricately crafted of any composer, I think. With other composers, I think you feel the predominance of one aspect over the other.
Epoch Times: What are your plans for the future?
Ms. Moore: Since I graduated in May , for the first time I’ve been exploring what it’s like to spend a short term without so much music. I traveled in Brazil for two and a half months. I just moved to New York and I’m teaching piano, I’m playing some chamber music, and I’m also interested in social work and mental health.
My old dream was to be a really high-achieving collaborative pianist and chamber musician, because it’s my favorite kind of music to play. But now I want to be a health therapist and start social projects that help mentally ill people.
The 4th NTD International Piano Competition will be taking place Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 2016. The competition will consist of one qualification round and three separate live competition rounds: Preliminary, Semifinal, and Final. Contestants from all around the world are welcome to apply. Applications will be accepted this fall.
The competition’s mission is to revive and promote the best of Eastern and Western traditional culture.