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TieDan Yao, who wants to be a concert pianist because he "think[s] it's a very adventurous life" will be playing a benefit concert at First Baptist Church Sunday, January 17 at 7 p.m.
courtesy Tokie Brideau

Calgary virtuoso teen headed to Carnegie Hall

17-year-old finds success tinkling ivories after placing third in piano competition

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Every few years a truly amazing young musician comes along to steal the spotlight in the classical piano world. In 2010 17-year-old TieDan Yao has become one of these fresh and fabulous artists. Beginning his piano career in Sweden at the age of five, Yao credits his mother with introducing him to a beautiful instrument, the piano.

Upon moving to Calgary, Yao became a student of the Mount Royal Conservatory, entering into the well-respected Academy program where he studied for many years.

Eventually, Yao became a private student of Charles Foreman. The student-teacher relationship that exists between individuals at such an advanced level of classical piano is important. It allows a student to bridge the gap between being a good musician, turning good pianists into exceptional ones.

"I have learned a lot from him over the past few years," says Yao. "I consider him to be my friend, as well as my instructor."

As a classical piano student, Yao's repertoire includes the works of many famous composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Schubert, Bach, Chopin and countless others. Yet he also chooses to play more modern music, not favouring one type over the other.

"Each year I try to play pieces from different timelines or different time periods," says Yao. "I have played a lot of Beethoven, but I like them all. I also like to include more contemporary composers like Samuel Barber (1910 - 1981)."

As a third place winner in the Louisiana International Piano Competition, Yao will play Carnegie Hall at the end of the month. The young musician will perform the Barber Sonata and Schumann Carnaval in the prestigious concert hall.

"I am very excited to play at Carnegie Hall," says Yao. "I think it's going to be a great experience. I have been preparing long and hard for this honour."

Yao's passion and musical talent have taken him to amazing places, which can only be attained through true love of one's musical instrument. His devotion to the piano has led to many prestigious awards, including beating out 23 other competitors to win the Eastman Young Artist International Piano Competition in 2008, at a youthful 16.

"I enjoy playing music and I want to share it with others," says Yao. "I want to become a concert pianist because I love performing. I think it's a very adventurous life, with its many opportunities to travel and see the world."

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