BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
Jonathan Xian, 22, won the 2017 Series 4 of 3MBS The Talent – a live performance initiative. Alongside fellow 3MBS musician Charlotte Miles, Jonathan will perform at the Kew Court House in a twilight concert tonight.
Jonathan’s achievements at the Monash School of Music include being named a finalist for the Jascha Spivakovsky Prize, as well the Monash Concerto and Aria Competition in 2015, playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. In 2016, he was also a finalist at the South Eastern Arts Festival.
Tell us all about your upcoming performance! How did you get involved in 3MBS The Talent?
I first heard about 3MBS The Talent when a couple of my piano classmates at Monash University appeared on Series 1. After seeing a few more perform in subsequent series, I decided to finally give it a go in Series 4. It has been a great experience ever since – from performing on radio for the first time, working with wonderful people at 3MBS, to preparing for my upcoming performance at Kew Court House.
Why are you looking forward to being part of this live performance series?
I’m both excited and grateful to be involved in the sharing of music this weekend, among other distinguished and talented artists, including the young cellist Charlotte Miles, who is opening the concert. The program I’m performing consists of beautiful pieces that have become very close to me, including Chopin’s Sonata No. 2, which to me is about life and death and contains many meaningful moments. The venue is also quite intimate, so I’m particularly looking forward to being able to share the stories I have to tell, which underlie my interpretations of these pieces, to each member of the audience.
How have you spent your time preparing for the event – both musically and mentally?
I’m still completing my law degree at Monash University, so in recent weeks it has been a challenge to try and practice as much as I can in between studying for exams, which fortunately finished a few days before the performance. There are a few newer pieces in the program, which I’ve had to concentrate more on, not only in terms of learning the notes but finding meaning behind the music. This involves a lot of experimenting with different ways of expressing the same musical material, including sound balance, tone colour and phrasing. It was very important to go through the same process with older pieces as well, to keep developing my interpretations and not allow them to become stale.
How do you manage any levels of performance anxiety when you perform as featured artists in a big show?
Performance anxiety is something I’ve always experienced – especially this year as I’ve been performing a little bit more, compared with other years. I don’t think it’s something we can really ‘overcome’; rather, it’s something we have to learn to deal with during performances. For me, I’ve learnt that my natural reaction to stress is to tense up and play inwardly. So by knowing this tendency of mine, I try to consciously maintain a relaxed and secure technique, breathe, as well as actively think about the music that’s coming up next. Of course, it’s a long process which requires actual performance experience, and it’s something I continue to work on.
What advice would you give others keen to be part of 3MBS The Talent, too?
I would highly encourage applying to be part of 3MBS The Talent, especially if you have never performed on radio before. It’s a really different experience to perform in a studio, and it’s incredibly enjoyable. I didn’t think of it as a competition, but just another experience with which to challenge myself, and so I found it very rewarding. Everybody at 3MBS is also lovely, which makes The Talent even more special.
See Jonathan and Charlotte perform in The Weekend of Beautiful Music as part of 3MBS The Talent, 6pm tonight at the Kew Court House.