Elbert Gong
2012 First Prize Recipient
Senior Division

What is your first memory of playing the piano?

My first memory of playing the piano was getting my first lessons at age four with my first teacher, Mr. Jacobsen. I remember learning how to bow with my feet together and working on the thumbs in Twinkle variations in a room with two uprights. It's still a vivid memory, and I really enjoyed learning piano as a beginner.

What (or whom) would you say is your biggest inspiration when playing the piano?

My biggest inspiration in playing piano is definitely my teacher, Mr. Martin, because he knows so much about the piano, music, and pretty much everything else. He has been so helpful to me because of his dedication, such as one time when he went to Woodstock to see my recital. It's also inspiring to look up to him as a world-famous pedagogue.

Why do you think competitions are useful for young pianists such as yourself?

I think competitions are very helpful for young artists. They provide a platform to perform, and that's always beneficial. Also, competitions help young artists focus in on a goal. The SB competition forced me to make it a goal to develop a large repertoire to a high standard by a certain deadline. Finally, piano competitions are always great to meet like-minded young artists and get feedback from jury members.

What are your career aspirations or plans for the future?

As of now, I'm not certain what my career will be like, and I'm more focused on taking things year by year. I will most likely do something with music in the future, but I haven't decided whether I want to pursue piano in college yet.