Fifteen-year-old Qden Blaauw from De Tijger won the overall prize at the Atterbury National Piano Competition. He was invited to perform in October 2020 with the Paris Philharmonie in France.
Qden says he was always fascinated by the piano, he played whenever he was around one but he is the only person with some sort of musical ability in his family.
When did it start?
When he was about six or seven years old, he downloaded a piano game on his mother’s iPad. That’s when he realized that he has a passion for playing the piano. At the age of eight he told his mom he wants to play the piano, he then started with piano lessons at Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre.
Qden’s father tells us that Qden was a normal lastage child and was always inquisitive. “It is by coincidence that he started playing because we didn’t even have a piano or anything,” he says.
Qden is currently in grade 10 at Reddam House. He says the teachers at school are very accommodating with his practice schedule for events or competitions. “I practice two to three hours a day, but when practicing for an event or competition, I do 7 hours a day,” he says
This 15-year old composes his own music and has played his pieces in concerts. He can also play the violin and had the opportunity to perform one of his compositions at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre in March 2017. Shane Goodall, his piano teacher, plays a huge role in the type of pianist he is today. Qden has won various awards under his guidance.
Achievements and accolades
At 15, Qden is already an acclaimed and brilliant pianist. He has won various competitions and performed at very prestigious events. Locally, he has featured on the Expresso Show, appeared in many local newspapers and was interviewed for a Polish television network.
In 2016, Qden won first prize at both the Great Composers International Competition and the SAMRO Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition.
During the same year, Qden was selected out of 500 applicants across the world to attend the Allianz Music Camp in Warsaw, Poland. This was notable as he was the first one from Africa to ever attend. He attended a master class from acclaimed Chinese concert pianist, Lang Lang and also various other international pianists like Valentina Lisitsa, Gloria Campaner, Martina Bauer, Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy, Motoki Hirai, Spencer Myer, Nina Schumann, Luis Magalhaes, Liezl-Maret Jacobs, and Jan Hugo.
Qden has performed as a soloist at many concerts. In 2017, he performed with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, the Free State Symphony Orchestra, and the Hugo Lambrechts Orchestra. Qden then also had the opportunity to perform at the Suidoosterfees with the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
In 2018, he won first prize in the junior category of the 2018 Johann Vos Music Competition, second prize in the National Youth Music Competition and third prize in the 2018 Hennie Joubert Piano Competition. He was invited to perform at three concerts in Saarlouis, Germany. One of the performances was a concerto performance with the German Police Orchestra.
In 2019, Qden won first prize in the Pieter Kooij Music Competition and prizes for best performances of Baroque, Classical and Romantic pieces.
What is next for Qden?
On 18 June, he will be performing in his first full concerto with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. He will be sharing the concert with two other pianists, Mike Wang and Leo Gevisser.
When being asked if he gets nervous before concerts and competitions, he answered, “I don’t get nervous, it something that I want to do, it is my passion.”
With all the hard work that Qden puts in he certainly knows what he wants. He is striving to be like his inspirational role model, Lang Lang. Qden says Lang Lang is very mainstream because he performs with famous singers, not like the normal cultural pianist.
His advice to someone that wants to start playing the piano is, “First have an interest or passion for it, listen and play as much music as you can and discover as many things as you can. Print out sheet music and play it. Don’t worry about the difficulty.”