Reviving Traditional Arts; Music With Higher Purpose

By Shiwen Rong

The NTD International Piano Competition is fairly new to the stage in the world of major classical music competitions. However, its unique focus on tradition and the different approach to its repertoire have set it apart.

The repertoire focuses strictly on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, as their musical style, form, and technique are very unique.

“That’s a difficult repertoire, you going to get the best,” said Sara Faust, a classical pianist and the president of Faust Harrison pianos, a company known for the rebuilding of Steinway pianos.

As a judge herself for a number of competitions, she agrees that competitors should take a traditional approach to their craft.

“As a juror, what strikes me is not how louder, fast the pianist comply, but how personal and how musical it is,” she added.

The final round also includes a piece commissioned especially for the competition. As with the 2016 run, the jurists have commissioned D.F. to write music specifically for the competition.

D.F. is the artistic director of Shen Yun Performing Arts, the premier classical Chinese dance company that has caught the world’s attention over the past decade. One of its notable features is the East-West mix in its musical compositions. The company travels with a unique orchestra that blends Chinese instruments into an otherwise Western classical orchestra, and bel canto vocalists perform original songs in Mandarin.

“The fact that you have a commission work I think it’s important,” added Sara. “The commission piece that they haven’t heard. the piece they have to do all the interpreting it has to come from inside them … so I think commission pieces are terrific.”

The Spiritual Purpose of Music

“If we lose traditional music. We’re going to lose so much of our great history,” said Sara.

One of Beethoven’s famous quote says, “Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.”

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the divine.”

Beethoven believed in the higher spiritual purpose of music, which expresses itself through profound language—one that can’t be put into words, but only be felt in one’s heart.

Many classical pianists believe that through playing classical music, performers will also experience inner improvement.

Sara said good musicians can achieve a deeper level of communication with the audience.

“So I think it is very important when you sit down and play, take a moment, hear the music in your head, center yourself and then play, because then the music can come from inside you, rather than just being a technical thing,” she said.

NTD’s piano competition strives to bring back the traditions of centuries past. The application window closes on Aug. 9, and the competition begins Sept. 26.

The 2019 competition will be held in Engelman Recital Hall at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York.

The Epoch Times reporter Catherine Yang contributed to this report.