In 2003, I was thrilled to win the 3rd Prize in the New Orleans International Piano Competition. This was my first time winning a prize at a competition of this level. The very next year, the New Orleans Competition introduced a Wigmore Hall debut recital into their First Prize package. Thus, I was determined to go back at some point and aim for that prize. A Wigmore Hall recital is at the top of the list of engagements for an artist, in terms of prestige and standards. Between 2003 and 2008, when I went back to win the First Prize in New Orleans, I had the great fortune to twice participate in the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, collaborating with the wonderful Canadian soprano Martha Guth. Both times Martha reached the finals (and the second time, in 2007, she won First Prize), so I had the opportunity to play in Wigmore Hall three different times in each competition. Perfection is the only word I can think to describe this hall. Acoustically, aesthetically, it is perfection. One hears the sound created from the stage ringing in the hall, and thus one never has to second-guess balance issues, amount of pedal necessary, or other adjustments one must make in less ideal acoustics.
However, my experiences in the Wigmore Song Competition still could not prepare me for the thrill of performing a solo recital in Wigmore Hall. Despite the hall’s 500-seat capacity, one feels as if the performance is taking place in an elegant living room, and every audience member feels a sense of involvement, as if he/she is sitting next to the piano. As a performer, I felt as if I was speaking every note directly to each audience member. It is an intimacy one does not feel in a grand hall like Carnegie, and yet I still felt as if I was playing in a grand recital hall. It is a sensation that is difficult to match, and this is why Wigmore Hall’s backstage walls are plastered with autographed photos of literally EVERY great artist of the past who has cherished their experiences performing there.