22 July 2010

One of the world's most renowned piano duos will become a foursome for one concert only in Sydney this weekend.

Paul Rickard-Ford and Natalia Sheludiakova, the doyens of four handed duets, will be sharing the stage and the keys with two 12 year old virtuosos for a combined selection of concertos and overtures in Big Hands, Small Hands - the fifth concert in The Con's 2010 Sensational Sundays series.

The owners of the bigger hands are known globally; the smaller variety belong to two of the nation's most aspiring young pianists - Angela Wong and York Yu.

Wong and Yu, from Peakhurst and Wollongong respectively, are members of The Con's Rising Stars Open Academy, and despite their age have already tallied more than 20 major public performance appearances between them.

Yu, who started playing after receiving an old piano from his parents as a fourth birthday present, recently won the Best Performance overall in the prestigious Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition - bettering many older students.

His proud mother Yao said her son, now in Year 7 at Smith's Hill High School, learned his craft by ear.

"No one played piano in our family, but we always had classical music filling the house…even when he was two years old he was humming in key," commented Mrs Yu.

"After we enrolled him at Wollongong Conservatory he just flourished. By six he had won his first gold medal in a public competition and by seven had performed in front of the Governor of NSW.

"York loves painting and woodworking, but he can't stand rock music."

Mrs Yu said her son had gone from "strength to strength since joining the Open Academy two years ago…he has learned so much, not just about piano but life itself."

She added: "He and Angela Wong get on very well - she is a real talent and very calm. Playing with Paul and Natalia would be daunting for anyone, but after six rehearsals together I am sure they will be fine."

The concert, in the Verbrugghen Hall, will feature the music of Vivaldi, Mozart, Busoni and Bach. The pianists will be supported by the Student String Orchestra.

Paul Rickard-Ford is the Chair of the Keyboard Unit and senior lecturer at The Con, and Natalia Sheludiakova is lecturer in piano.

Their performance of Carl Vine'sSonata for Four Hands as part of the 101 Compositions for 100 Years program was a sell-out.

"What a fabulous scenario, where two giants of the piano can play together with two budding stars of the instrument and enrich us with their flair and talent," commented Dean and Principal, Professor Kim Walker.

Contact: Mick Le Moignan

Phone: 02 9351 1385

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