Considered by many as a child prodigy, Australian Concert Pianist Simon Tedeschi has led an exciting and at times varied career. Making his Sydney Opera House debut performance with Mozart Piano Concerto No.19 K.459, Tedeschi has performed for Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Putin, George W Bush, the Dalai Lama and was the hands of David Helfgott in the Oscar-winning movie Shine. A foremost interpreter of George Gershwin, Tedeschi was awarded the ABC Young Performer of the Year in 1998, was the top prize winner in the keyboard section of the Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London in 2002, and was awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal “For service as a Young Australian of the Year Finalist” by the then Prime Minister in 2001.
1. When did you realise you wanted to be a performing artist?
When I was 5! I heard a boy in Year 1 playing the piano – he had cerebral palsy and was playing the piano for a kind of physical therapy – and knew it was what I had to do. I nagged my mother to begins lessons – and the rest is history.
2. How would you describe your creative process when you begin a new work?
Slowly, slowly, slowly. I also tend not to listen to a huge number of recordings, because it’s a very fragile time – I want to explore a new work in my own way, for my own purposes.
3. What is an average day like for you?
These days, not nearly as much travel as when I was younger (thank Goodness) but lots of practising and lots of reading.
4. What are some of your favourite performance venues?
Sydney Opera House is definitely number 1 because of the associations it has for me from when I was very young. Architecturally, it is beyond comparison, in my view. Sydney Town Hall I find very haunting and beautiful, with all of its Gothic passages and echoing corridors.
5. What do you consider ‘success as a performing artist’?
Working! In this sense, I have been very lucky for many decades now.
6. Which pianists do you enjoy listening to the most?
Friedrich Gulda, Stephen Hough, Uli Mustonen.
7. Is there any repertoire that you stay away from?
Bach, because he intimidates me and I don’t feel I do him justice at all.
8. Do you have a ‘warm up’ practise routine?
Yes – scales, scales, scales and more scales. It’s the best way to warm up all of the apparatus – the torso, the wrist, the arms, the shoulders etc.
9. What (if any) are your pre-performance rituals?
To go to the toilet more times than is probably advisable.
10. What would you consider to be a highlight of your career thus far and why?
Performing in front of 100,000 people at the Domain with the Sydney Symphony, aged 18.
11. What is your ‘pet hate’ in other performers?
Putting themselves above the composer’s intentions, not being gracious to younger performers, believing their own publicity.
12. Where was the most random or unlikely place you have performed?
In a pub in outback Queensland!
13. If you could have dinner with any composer, who would it be?