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Malaysian wins BBC music award


BEST NEWCOMER: Seremban lass Foo Mei Yi stuns classical music world with prestigious win

LONDON: MALAYSIAN concert pianist Foo Mei Yi, hailed as "a pianist to watch",  a "rising star" and the winner of the Maria Callas Grand Prix '08 in Athens, has been named "Best Newcomer" at the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013 yesterday.

The concert pianist from Seremban was shortlisted from more than 1,300 entrants whose recordings on discs and DVDs were heard by a jury of critics.

Foo made it to the final 21 and yesterday, her album Musical Toys on new label Odradek Records, was named the winner of BBC Music Magazine's Newcomer award.

The album features Sofia Gubaidulina's Musical Toys, the world premiere recording of Unsuk Chin's Six Piano Etudes and György Ligeti's Musica Ricercata.

Foo received her award, adding to her long list of awards, together with six others at King's Place in central London where Foo performed three pieces from her album.

The BBC Music Magazine Awards is the only classical music awards in which the main categories are voted for by the public. The shortlist represents the best of more than 1,300 recordings reviewed by BBC Music Magazine last year and features leading names from the international classical music arena.

"I am thrilled to receive this award. It is important to me, not least for the invaluable endorsement of the Odradek Project, which I am proud to be part of, but also for the immense encouragement to myself, one artiste among thousands, to forge ahead playing and creating with fearless commitment.

"It is very much appropriate to the time we are living in now: immediate, acute, abrupt and in a zigzag pattern. The reason I chose this was because I like to challenge myself with complex things.

"And the reviewers and listeners liked it. I was surprised because contemporary music is not that easily accessible," said Foo, who began tinkering on keyboards at the age of 3 and in 1996, came to study music at Wells Cathedral School in Sommerset and later, the Royal Academy of Music, here.

Since then, as a concert pianist and recipient of the Setiawan Tuanku Muhriz medal, she has captivated audiences across Europe, the Americas and Asia, performing at venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Finlandia Hall, Auditorio de Falla Granada, Wigmore Hall, Verona Teatro Filarmonico, Megaron Athens and Salle Gaveau Paris.

"I am either at the airport waiting to fly to some performance or practising six to seven hours a day," said Foo, whose schedule is packed to the brim for the whole year.

Foo still finds time to return to Malaysia where she holds master classes for budding pianists. Her performances in Malaysia won her awards such as the BOH Cameronian Best Instrumentalist Arts Award and CLEO Malaysian Young Achievers Award.

Foo Mei Yi is a recipient the receiver of the Setiawan Tuanku Muhriz medal. Pic by Kaupo Kikkas

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