Teenage Gilmore-Winning Pianist Closes LSO’s Season

May 9, 2019

Elliot Wuu is only a teenager and the Lansing Symphony has brought him to town to help close their concert season at the Wharton Center.


JAMIE PAISLEY: As I walk into the main hall of the Community Music School in East Lansing, I hear a pianist through the door working on a rapid technique called a trill. This is the 19 year old pianist Elliot Wuu, a Julliard student who, last year, was named a Young Artist Award-winner from the prestigious Gilmore Festival. As part of that winning, Wuu is set to perform a piano concerto this Friday evening with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra’s season-ending concert at the Wharton Center. And that trill he was practicing comes from a Concerto by another very successful young musician.

ELLIOT WUU: So, Mozart 21[st Piano Concerto] was something I started a couple months back. Relatively quite new, but I think it's the one concerto that benefits from being a little bit fresher. So I think it actually adds to the performance of it.

JAMIE PAISLEY: But for that piece, Mozart’s Elvira Madigan concerto, as we call it, to the 19 year old Elliot Wuu, Mozart was pretty old when he wrote it, comparatively.

ELLIOT WUU:I think when he was 29, and back then, he was actually prospering. And he was composing pieces every week or so. So I think, this 21st concerto, he wrote only 4 weeks after his 20th concerto. So, I think it's just crazy just to think that he wrote this in less than a month. There's a passage in the first movement where there's a lot of dissonances. Which is definitely not common back then, and his father thought that there were misprints in the publisher. But actually, no, Mozart definitely meant it. And it does bring a new light into what the new classical period is like. So, I think Mozart definitely led the way into, like Beethoven, and stuff like that."

JAMIE PAISLEY: Wuu was supposed to join the LSO last season to play the Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto, but at the last minute had to cancel and a back-up artist filled in for Elliot Wuu, which means this Friday’s performance is a bit of a make-up one.

ELLIOT WUU:  Umm, so, what happened was, I was preparing, and I think it was also during the time where school was getting like with the jury week and with the finals week. So, my schedules were just all over the place, and I was trying to get as much practice time as possible and that kinda caused some major fatigue in my hand, because I had only limited hours of time to practice, so I wouldn't have a break so that I think that caused a tendonitis in my - it was in my right hand, so it kind of prevented me from performing the concerto.

JAMIE PAISLEY: As for Wuu’s advice for other Young Artists and skills for them to develop…

ELLIOT WUU: I think the common thing that I find, especially in music schools and just as students is we tend to - I wouldn't say procrastinate is the right word. We're all so busy with our schedule, and all our concerts and stuff. It's hard to manage our time extremely efficiently and wisely. Just because we have so much time on our hands. But I often see a common trend where people don't have enough time to prepare up to their fullest potential for concerts. Yeah, I think it's just great, 'cause it's not something that we can only use musically, like, it's also something that we can also use in our day-to-day life, too.

JAMIE PAISLEY: Gilmore Young Artist Award Winner Elliot Wuu joins the Lansing Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mozart’s famed Elvira Madigan Piano Concerto this Friday night at the Wharton Center for their season-ending performance. Tickets and more information at LansingSymphony.org

Note: The Lansing Symphony is an underwriter of WKAR.