Recognized pianist visits SVSU
February 11, 2008 —
Professional pianist May Phang presented to SVSU her talent Saturday in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Phang, born in Singapore, started practicing music at the age of 7.
"My parents decided it was something good to do," she said. "If they would have known I was going to play professionally, they wouldn't have given me lessons."
She moved with her family to Philadelphia at the start of her high school years because there was a better music program than that in Singapore. Phang took lessons with her sister from numerous teachers throughout the years, of whom many lacked professionalism.
It hadn't always been music that struck Phang's interest. She had majored in math for two years before applying to business school for her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Canada. After graduating, she pursued science at Temple University in Philadelphia for her Master's.
"You could call me a drifter," Phang said.
Phang always loved playing the piano but not always practicing. While teaching at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, she tries to squeeze in as much time for practicing as she can. She is committed now and takes the time to progress so that she can develop herself more.
Phang has performed concerts in Montreal, the Netherlands and her hometown of Singapore.
She said she would like to play at more venues to pursue her career as a pianist.
"The more you play, the more practice you get."
Along with being an assistant professor of music and performing around the world, Phang has also been successful in numerous competitions such as the Chopin Young Pianists' Competition and Pontoise International Young Artists Competition. She has also performed with several orchestras including the Singapore Symphony, Montreal Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
"I never thought of it so much as playing for people but having something to say," Phang said. "Just like writers write, wanting people to read their words."
She found SVSU very appealing and hopes to return in the future.
"I love the recital hall," Phang said. "It's got lots of possibilities."
According to Marc Peretz, producer for the Rhea Miller Concert Series, Rhea Miller initially wanted to do something for music students and so she provided a small amount of money to get talent to play music for students that they may not have heard before. What started out as talented artists from the Great Lakes states performing gradually attracted not only national but also international performers.
The series is now in its fourteenth year and is funded through an endowment. Among other things, Peretz's job is to develop relationships with the managers that represent the artists and these managers will contact Peretz to book concerts.
The process for choosing artist takes about a year to two-and-a-half years in advance. "We try to hear all auditions live," Peretz said.
Many artists that get the chance to perform at SVSU are eager to come back for the acoustics and the dedicated audience. Some have attended the series for years and each event usually averages about 185 to 250 people.
"So far this has been a successful season," Peretz said.
The next scheduled performace is guitarist Javier Calderon on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.