Thursday, July 8, 2004

Pianist prepares for moment

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Klara Min loves music because, she says, "you're living for the moment. If you can live from one moment to the next moment, you're really living."

Min, 29, is one of 12 pianists competing in the Artist Division of the World Piano Competition this week at the Aronoff Center. A native of Seoul, South Korea, she started playing piano at age 4. She spent her childhood in Tokyo, and at age 17, moved by herself to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music, a move she calls "very hard."

Two years ago, the pianist became interested in music by American composer John Corigliano.

"I was listening to a recording of his music, and the pianist was James Tocco," she says. "I thought, this pianist has an amazing sound. I have to get to know him."

She found Tocco, a professor at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, on the Internet, and called him up. They met in New York for an audition, and he accepted her as a student. She is thinking about starting a doctorate next year at CCM.

The competition is stiff in most piano contests. Min made it to the semifinals in the 2002 Naumburg Competition, where the world's most brilliant musicians compete.

She's happy to be in Cincinnati where the field is small and her chances of winning are greater. Although she's petite, she has steely nerves.

"Most of all, you have to believe in yourself," she says. "You're not competing with other contestants; you're competing with yourself. You're doing this for music, not for the prize."

To prepare, she tries to concentrate, and not to practice too much. Even so, she says, "I feel like I'm living on the edge of my life."

The World Piano Competition continues at 10 a.m. today and Friday in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center. The finals are 3 p.m. Sunday, Procter & Gamble Hall. Tickets: 621-2787.


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