Welcome to Con Fuoco, CutCommon’s interview series with emerging artists across Australia.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music alumni Chad Vindin has made a name for himself as a collaborative pianist in London.
As a winner of the accompanist’s prize at the Royal Overseas League Competition and Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, Chad has rapidly became one of London’s most sought-after pianists. He enjoyed a two-year tenure as Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music and performs regularly across the United Kingdom.
He is looking forward to a busy 2016-2017 season, starting with a series of recitals at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and appearances at the Bloomsbury Festival and St John’s Smith Square.
Your all time favourite piece of music, and why?
The Piano Concerto In Seven Days by Thomas Adès. Adès is an absolute genius. His imagination and his sheer technical prowess is astonishing. This concerto really does seem like the soundtrack to the creation of the world.
As far as songs and lieder are concerned, I think I can’t get past Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade. It’s deceptively simple, but the more I play it, the more it speaks to me and the more amazing it seems. The emotional power behind it is fiercely raw and human, and Schubert expresses it all perfectly in the music.
Most memorable concert experience?
As a performer, I think my most memorable performance was a recent recital at King’s Place of Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs, with the soprano Nika Gorič. She was an absolute delight to work with, and I think our performance was very special. The concert was filmed as well; that normally adds to the pressure, but on this occasion it felt utterly natural, as if this music was so clear to us that it was destined to be what we wanted. That doesn’t happen very often!
Biggest fear when performing?
There’s nothing quite like the panic of turning the page and finding nothing there. If I can be sure that all the music is sorted, then I can deal with almost anything (I hope…).
Also, something Chopin himself used to warn his pupils about was ‘stupefaction through overwork’. Musicians in the early stages of their careers are expected to wear so many hats these days: marketing manager, web designer, event organiser, the list goes on. Unless you’re really good at balancing everything, these business elements can start to take over the reason for doing it all in the first place: music. My biggest fear is waking up one day and realising I’m burnt out and not doing it for the right reasons anymore. It even feels scary to write it!
Best piece of musical advice you’ve received?
In one word: listen! ‘Your job is to turn yourself into one big ear’ was something my teacher at the Con, Natalia Sheludiakova, said to me often. It might seem obvious at first, but it can be easy to forget when you’re thinking about notes, technique, what concerts you have coming up, emails you need to reply to, what you’re going to eat for dinner later that night, and everything else. You have to let the sound take you out of this world, but you also have to know when to come back to earth.
How do you psych yourself up for practice on a lazy day?
Most days, I like to start off by improvising; anything at all, really. This seems to get my creative juices flowing no matter how lazy I feel. If the mind isn’t inspired, the hands can sometimes get inspired for you. And if that fails, there’s always Netflix…
Most embarrassing moment on stage?
This one is not piano related; it goes back to my high school years when I was trying to be an actor. I had to do these little introductory vignettes in between scenes of a play, so I prepared what I thought were hilarious sketches, but it turned out that the audience had rather different ideas of what was hilarious and what wasn’t. Before that, I thought the worst thing was to be booed off the stage. It turns out that hearing silence when you’re expecting laughter is even worse.
Favourite post-gig activity?
I always love to have a drink with my fellow artists. It’s a partnership that doesn’t just stop with the music.
What are you most proud of in your musical career so far?
If I could point to one specific event, it would have to be winning the accompanist’s prize at the Royal Overseas League competition this year. I really put all of myself into those performances, and I was happy to take a lot of risks in the moment, which is sometimes very hard to do in a big competition. It’s nice when it all pays off!
There is one other stand-out project that is really close to my heart. Last December, I took a trip to Durban, South Africa, as a pianist and coach for The Voices of South Africa Trust. I worked with some unbelievably talented local students, but I’m sure I took away as much as what I had to offer them. The unbridled joy and commitment they all brought to the sessions was inspirational, and one memory I’ll never forget was walking by on the lunch break to hear a group of them improvising in harmony with each other. I felt honoured to be part of a team that is helping people who may not have these opportunities otherwise, and were so passionate and appreciative of it.
What do you love most about making music?
It’s like building something in air, except the material you’re using is alive – and can fly.
What’s your ultimate goal?
I would like to perform in every major concert hall around the world before I die. I’ve ticked a few off my list: Wigmore Hall, Sydney Opera House, Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, but I hope one day to play at the Musikverein, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Melbourne Recital Hall. Oh, and I’ve heard Carnegie Hall is pretty awesome, too.
In addition to his appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 23rd-26th, Chad will also be appearing at the Bloomsbury Festival on October 20th, and at St John’s Smith Square on November 30th and March 16th, 2017. You can find out more details on Chad’s website.