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JMT 1.01 Pianist Extraordinaire Tiffany Poon

Jane's Musical Takeaway
bits and bobs and my two cents

Episode 1: Pianist Extraordinaire Tiffany Poon

Tiffany Poon was accepted into the Juilliard School Pre-College Division on a full scholarship at the tender age of 8; she continued studying with Emanuel Ax and Joseph Kalichstein through the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange Program, and in 2018 she graduated Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. Now 22, she is mid-way through her first year of studies towards a Master of Music degree at the Yale School of Music under Dean Robert Blocker. (Full bio here)

In addition to being an amazingly expressive and remarkably talented pianist, Tiffany Poon has an unusual mission statement, which begins:

Simply put, my mission is to inspire all generations, the old and the new, to appreciate classical music using social media. But wait, classical music and social media?!

Guess what - she's making it work! As of January 2019, Tiffany has over 11m YouTube views and 120k+ social media followers (you can find links to her channels below). While many of her professional performances are on YouTube, the most engaging and endearing offerings are her vlogs containing insights into her day to day life as a young artist: the endless hours of practice, the frustration of working older repertoire back into her fingers, the desperate attempts to find a practice piano that is actually in tune, her curiosity upon discovering an unfamiliar brand of piano, and the age old dichotomy of being a talented artist on full scholarship - and hungry.

Check out this video recorded at the Richard Wagner Museum, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

This 16 minute video documents her train journey into the city, her excitement as she approaches the museum on foot, some footage from the museum's collection, and finally her first experience at a vintage Erard piano (the favoured piano of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) as she warms up and then performs Liszt's Liebestraum #3. There's more that follows, but if you're short of time, you can stop the video after she finishes her performance, roughly 8.5 mins in.

Jane's Musical Takeaway:

  • 1. Tiffany links to her performance of this piece on a modern piano, listen to the difference in sound! Liebestraum performed by Tiffany on a modern piano
  • 2. After you've heard the difference in pianos, if you continue the Wagner Museum video at 9mins, Tiffany will show you that this piano has fewer keys (or notes) than a modern piano, and that the keys themselves are shorter in length. She also demonstrates the action of the piano. (action: how difficult, or how easy, the keys are to play)
  • 3. Why did she choose to play a piece by Liszt? The relationship between Liszt and Wagner is complicated; to learn more, you might want to begin with Cosima Wagner.
  • 4. At 11.30 mins, Tiffany leaves the museum and chats about her vlog; she also shows the scenery as she leaves the museum at twilight. You can see why she has become such a successful vlogger, because she is so approachable and invites interaction.
  • 5. If you'd like to hear more of Tiffany on the Erard piano, she plays Liszt's transcription of Wagner's Isolde's Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde on Wagner's piano here.

Tiffany Poon is a pianist on the rise, and a performer you should follow if you are interested in classical piano music.

Find Tiffany!

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