The Division of Culture and Creativity (DCC) invited Italian pianist, Mr Paolo Vairo, to teach a piano masterclass on 24 October. This was the first piano masterclass to be held at UIC and three students from the UIC Piano Soloists programme also participated and performed.


Mr Vairo introducing himself

Mr Vairo obtained his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the US. He is known as a musician for his uncommon brilliance and sensitivity. He regularly tours within Italy and abroad, performing in recitals and as a soloist with an Orchestra.

During the masterclass, each selected student had a chance to play and then hear advice from Mr Vairo about how to improve their techniques and skills. He would sometimes play along with the students to demonstrate how to improve certain parts of their pieces.

The first student to play was year 4 Media Arts and Design (MAD) student, Yurodivy Wang Jie. She played ‘The Lark’ by Mikhail Glinka. Its melody is simple, full of fresh, with the flavour of Russian folk songs. He explained that “Understanding the composer is a very important part of making music” before explaining that Yurodivy has a good sense of balance, which is important because this song requires the melody to be brought to the audience.



Wang Jie playing ‘The Lark’

Abigail Wang Lixuan, a year 4 ELLS student was the second to perform. She played ‘Reflects dans l’eau’ by Claude Debussy. The composer believes that this work reflects the latest discoveries of “harmonic chemistry”, and there are also new attempts to create diatonic and pentatonic scales. Mr Vairo explained that this song is an impressionist piece and said to the student, “This song is about the atmosphere and is meant to be told descriptively” continuing “this is one of those songs you should be able to close your eyes and imagine what it looks like.”



Wang Lixuan was the second student to perform

Year 3 Finance (FIN) student, Mia Liang Xiaojing was the last to play. Xiaojing chose to play ‘Arabesque no.1’ by Claude Debussy. This song was lively and marked the end of the French music by conservation traditional style era to the sign of a new era. Mr Vairo explained that this piece has so much texture and melody and encouraged the student to find a balance of the two, even though that is hard to achieve. Before concluding his time with Mia he said, “Don’t be shy, find your own voice.”



Liang Xiaojing chose to play ‘Arabesque no.1’

He explained after the performances that, “Having masterclasses like this is particularly important here in the mainland of China because the understanding of music is different here, not the general idea of expressing through music but the technicalities.” He continued explaining how there is a balance between learning new western techniques and cherishing and keeping a history of eastern music alive.



The audience enjoying the performances 

“Just do it, don’t worry about it,” he said when asked what he would tell students who are interested in learning music. “Everyone has to start from scratch and everyone has to learn, some people might learn faster than others but everyone starts from the same place,” he added.

Following the masterclass, many students waited to receive a word of advice and encouragement from Mr Vairo. This was Mr Vairo’s first time at UIC and he said he was more than impressed by the performances of all three students.

Reporter/Photographer: Lauren Richardson
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He
(from MPRO)