Man Minnie Ho and Oscar Caravaca.

09-07-2016

Something very special and unique is going to be taking place in Majorca later this month: the first European Pianofest, which will incorporate the first Frederic Chopin piano competition for 26 years.

The festival has been created by concert pianists Man Minnie Ho from Hong Kong and Palma-born Oscar Caravaca. Man Minnie has just graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a Bachelor of Music (with Honours) , while Oscar is currently studying at the Royal Academy and intends to go on to take a PhD in piano performance.

Considering their young ages, they have both performed in some of the greatest concert halls across the world from South America to the Far East. Man Minnie began playing the piano at the age of four and, when aged 13, secured a place at the highly prestigious Shanghai Conservatory of Music, performing much of her early music in China and Hong Kong.

Oscar has performed all over the eastern world. As they say, opposites attract and this is very much the case with the two professional concert pianists, who currently teach at King’s College, London.

The two pianists bring eastern and western attitudes, understanding, techniques and talent together, and they have both found it an exciting and interesting journey since they met and began performing together. And that is what they want to share with up-and-coming pianists and, of course, the general public.

The Pianofest, which they hope will become an annual event in Majorca, is a platform for young pianists from Asia to meet and receive advice from some of the most prominent piano figures in Europe.

Its objective is to provide high-level performance training by interpreters, professors and directors from the most prestigious conservatories, delivering the necessary help and support for future training in Europe.

The festival will feature some excellent concerts - tickets costing just 15 euros - and a series of workshops and master classes with some of the best maestros in Europe. These include Joanna MacGregor, who was Man Minnie’s professor at the Royal Academy.

Oscar and Minnie explained that they chose Majorca because it is a beautiful place and because it was where Chopin stayed, leaving and the rich musical legacy that Valldemossa has.

"We want to blend music with culture, and Valldemossa has it all. It’s so rich and also an extremely inspiring place for musicians, artists and writers," Minnie said.

Oscar is of course proud to be able to host the festival in his home island in front of a home crowd.

A total of 45 Chinese participants out of 300 applicants will be coming to Majorca. Not all of them are studying in China, some are at music academies in the UK and Europe, but the majority are. They will spending at least eight days on the island. They are all are very young, under 20, and Minnie and Oscar hope that the festival helps to make them into great performers as they grow and develop during their training.

For the time being, the festival is going to focus on Asian pianist students. In barely two generations, China has changed from being a country in which Beethoven’s music was banned to being home to some 30 million talented piano students. As they both explained, the east-west crossover is very important because, since working together, they have discovered that in Europe we know why you play but not how, while in Asia they know how to play but not why.

"In Asia the focus is very much on technique - eight to nine hours a day - while in Europe there is more learning about the history of the music. So we’re bringing together two totally different approaches. And it works, especially when it comes to the Spanish and the Chinese, who have a strong understanding."

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