UCSI University Music student is first Malaysian pianist to win a gold award in the prestigious Asia Piano Competition (APC) in Taiwan

Maxy Chan Mei Xuan made history when she became the first Malaysian pianist to win a gold award in the prestigious Asia Piano Competition (APC) in Taiwan.

Maxy Chan, UCSI University Music student wins Gold Award at the Grand Finals in Taiwan

Mei Xuan, UCSI University Music student wins Gold Award at the Grand Finals in Taiwan

Performing a piece titled, ‘The Tom and Jerry Show’ by jazz composer Hiromi Uehara, the UCSI University student edged out some of Asia’s upcoming pianists to bag the top award in the Asian Works (Young Adults) category.

Naturally shy by nature, Maxy overcame her inhibitions to stand out for her nifty fingerwork and expressive artistry.

“I practised four to six hours each day for the APC and I’m glad my dedication paid off,” enthused the 18-year-old.

“However, I started the piece with a slower tempo as I was aware of my lack of reach on the keyboard. I have really short fingers and I can’t stretch that much!”

Despite her evident lack of reach, Maxy walked away with the gold by a comfortable margin to record her third win in four competitions.

And the diminutive lass is determined to keep her feet on the ground despite the encouraging 75% win rate.

“I only started competing this year and my views are still pretty narrow,” mulled Maxy. “The wins are encouraging but deep

UCSI University's MEI XUAN PERFORMING AT THE FINAL ROUND OF THE ASIA PIANO COMPETITION, TAIWAN

UCSI University’s MEI XUAN PERFORMING AT THE FINAL ROUND OF THE ASIA PIANO COMPETITION, TAIWAN

inside, I consider myself to be a greenhorn.”

“The fact is I still can’t play as well in competitions as I do at home!”

Over the moon with her win, Maxy expressed her desire to approach future competitions with the same focus and dedication to fulfil her dreams of becoming a concert pianist.

Maxy is currently reading a Foundation in Arts pre-university programme at UCSI and she will move on to her degree studies soon.

“I learn so much at UCSI and the keyboard labs have helped me immensely,” she enthused. “My practical skills have improved and I look forward to learn more when I pursue my degree in music.”

“It’s important for me to hone my talents in the right environment and I’m thankful that UCSI is providing me with the opportunities to test and improve myself.”

It was clear that music took root in her infant soul when Maxy started playing the piano at the tender age of four.

She obtained her Licentiate – the equivalent of the performance component on completion of a full-time undergraduate course at a conservatoire – last year. UCSI University Mei Xuan

Still a new student on campus, Maxy is virtually terra incognita. However, her performances are bound to catch the ears – and eyes – of her peers.

Regarded as one of Asia’s premier piano competitions, the APC is now being hosted for the 10th time. The competition was open to international participants three years ago.

Mei Xuan (Maxy) majors in contemporary piano. Her first stage performance — at the tender age of 4 —  was at a Christmas concert organized by the music center she attended at that time. She achieved her ATCL certificate in piano performance in 2010 and then her LTCL certificate (with distinction) in 2012. She has performed at various events such as The 5th Miss Tourism International Pageant (2000) and ABRSM High Scorers’ Concert (2007, 2011).

Mei Xuan began to participate actively in competitions in 2013. In March, she was Champion in the 6th Roland Music Festival in Pop and Jazz piano solo category. She received 3rd prize in the 1st EUROASIA Youth Music Competition in the Senior category held in May. Recently, she participated at the Asia Piano Competition, organized by Graceful Piano.

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The preliminary and semi final rounds of the competition were held on 27th-28th July and 4th August 2013 respectively in

UCSI University's Mei Xuan winning 3rd prize in the 1st EUROASIA Youth Music Competition in the Senior category

UCSI University’s Mei Xuan winning 3rd prize in the 1st EUROASIA Youth Music Competition in the Senior category

UCSI University. The Finals was on 17th-19th August 2013 held in National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei. Mei Xuan participated in the Asian Work:Young Adult category, performing Hiromi Uehara’s “The Tom and Jerry Show”. She performed the piece for all rounds she participated in, as part of the competition rules.She obtained the Gold Award at the Grand Finals.

We managed to catch up with Mei Xuan recently, post-competition. Below is a brief e-mail interview with her:

How was the preparation for the competition?
For me, learning this piece was tough because of its technical parts, but it was fun for the expression it brings out. I enjoyed playing this piece very much.

Describe your experience participating in this competition.
In the preliminary and semi final rounds, I was very excited because it was held in UCSI University where I am studying right now. I was very lucky to be chosen as one of the finalists to represent Malaysia for the Grand Finals in Taipei.

It was very challenging and a whole new experience for me because I met with many outstanding participants from other parts of Asian countries, like China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.

WITH PROF. DR. P’NG TEAN HWA, HEAD OF SCHOOL OF MUSIC, UCSI UNIVERSITY DURING THE SEMI-FINAL ROUND OF THE ASIA PIANO COMPETITION

WITH PROF. DR. P’NG TEAN HWA, HEAD OF SCHOOL OF MUSIC, UCSI UNIVERSITY DURING THE SEMI-FINAL ROUND OF THE ASIA PIANO COMPETITION

How did you know of this competition? Who encouraged you?
I came to know of this competition from my classmate, Tzu Kuang. He was also a participant and was in the Professional Teenager category. My family has always been very supportive in my participation of competitions.

What experiences did you gain from this competition?
I am now more confident of myself, and ready to take up more challenges in the future.

How did your experience as a UCSI University student help you in this competition?

It has only been 5 months since I enrolled in UCSI University. The teachers here are dedicated and my classmates are friendly and helpful. Most importantly, the University provides us with a great platform to learn and fulfill our dreams.

Post-competition, Mei Xuan was awarded an “Honourable Commendation” for standout performances from Jarrod Radnich/Mastermind Studios in the Jarrod Radnich’s Pirates of the Caribbean Worldwide YouTube Piano Competition.

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