The legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven lives on through pianist Khoo Qi Xuan who performed with the Petaling Jaya Philharmonic Orchestra at the Beethovenian Concert Night last July. “When I was invited by the conductor, I had some doubts whether I can meet the expectations as a soloist because this is my first time playing for an orchestra,” Khoo reminisces. “It was considered a standard concert repertoire where the duration was 40 minutes long. I make a promise to myself to appreciate the opportunity given because not every pianist has the chance to work with an orchestra”.
He delivered with a memorable performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto that concluded with an astounding applause. It’s natural to ask Khoo about the elements of a good performance. For the pianist, it trickles down to the engagement between the performer and his audiences. Khoo admits that it wasn’t easy due to the common perception of classical music. “Most audiences would consider classical music to be very pompous and serious. We have to sit tight and listen throughout the piece,” he shares. “Unlike pop music, where there are lyrics and rhythms, classical music requires performers to express their feelings solely through true music. That is very challenging”.
Being the son of Khoo Academy of Music & Art’s principal, music finds its way to him as early as five years old. He also credited his piano teacher Ms Jessica Ng who coached him during the early years of practices and showcased the value of hard work and perseverance. “I was grateful to have a strict teacher at the beginning stage of my piano learning,” Khoo muses. “During the transition from a lower to a higher grade, a pianist will face a lot of difficulties and require a lot of practices. It was only after 12 years old when I truly found the passion in music and I would take the initiative to practice without my parents or teachers asking me to do so”.
Two diplomas later, from the Licentiate of Trinity College London and Fellowship of Trinity College London, Khoo now plays with passion and confidence. Speaking about the evolution of his talent from then till now, he attributed it to pure hard work. “I realised how important hard work was and still is, and that’s why I could develop my skills as a musician,” he explains. He also compares the skill sets of a musician to an athlete. “I always bring up this analogy when I’m discussing music. They might think that musicians are born with talent. In actual fact, we have to keep practising. The same way athletes have to run and practice to build their stamina,” Khoo elaborates. “Therefore, the harder I work on my piano playing, the greater the growth”.
As a Nexus learner, Khoo’s time management skill is the key in excelling in his studies and piano practices. The school also provides a fully-equipped music facility that allows musicians to concentrate on their practices. “I was grateful that Nexus has a great music facility and music department. The teachers are also very passionate. I’ve been practising with the string orchestra with Head of Performing Arts, Mr Tim Costello,” he says. “The timetable is also very well planned and we have breaks in between. The homework here is done using the e-learning system, which is efficient and saves a lot of time”.
Despite its century-old origin, classical music continues to prove its relevance till today. For Khoo, he has faith in the timeless appeal of this music genre. “People say that pop music is rising nowadays. They call it the new era of music and classical music is outdated,” he reaffirms. “However, I think classical music is evergreen because it all started from there. If you look at the current pop music, these ideas are simplified versions of classical music compositions. That is why I think classical music is still the foundation of music”.
This article titled ‘Khoo Qi Xuan: From Concerto to Classical Music’ was published on the Nexus News by Nexus International School Malaysia in October 2017. Kindly refer to this link to view from its original publication.