When Claire Chiang was named the grand prize winner of the Vernell Gregg Young Artists Competition on Jan. 12 for her piano performance, she became the third person in her family to win this honor.
Both her sister Alison, who will receive her doctorate from the Eastman School of Music this year in piano performance, and her brother William, who is a senior at Indiana University majoring in piano performance, previously won the competition.
In addition to winning the $1000 Bill and Grace Lawrence Scholarship, Claire will perform Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” with the Lewisville Lake Symphony at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the MCL Grand in Old Town Lewisville.
The performance marks a second record set by the Chiang family – siblings performing as soloists at different concerts during the same season. Her sister Alison was the featured artist at the symphony’s September concert for winning the 2018 Lewisville Lake Symphony International Piano Competition at UNT last February.
How can one family produce such amazing artists? Claire, 15, who is a sophomore at Shepton High School in Plano, said her parents, Cheng-Ming Chiang and Shwu-Yuan Wu, had a lot to do with it. Both are scientists on the faculty at UT Southwestern and have encouraged their children to explore themselves and the surrounding world as a family and through other means such as books, news, and movies.
Claire feels the three siblings have internalized their father’s belief, “If you are going to do something, do it well. Don’t waste time and effort unless you are going to give it your best.” Claire said neither parent plays the piano, but that her father used to play the double bass and the pipa - a four-stringed Chinese instrument that is plucked.
Claire, who has been a frequent prize winner of international, national, and state and local competitions, was selected by the Fine Arts Chamber Players of Dallas in the summer of 2018 to be featured as a “Rising Star,” presenting a solo and collaborative recital for an audience of over 500 in downtown Dallas’ Moody Performance Hall.
Claire, who is particularly fond of the Romantic composers, says she practices about 2 hours a day during the week, from the time that she gets home after school until she begins cooking dinner, an everyday occurrence for her. On the weekends she practices about six hours a day, “more or less.”
When asked if there is ever any issue with claiming a piano for practice time in her house, she said, “It’s always an issue! We have a grand piano downstairs and an upright upstairs as far away from each other as possible. As tradition, my sister – the oldest – nearly always practices on the grand piano and brother generally practices on the upright. I practice on either whenever a spot opens. As for allocating practice time, we observe a ‘first come, first serve’ practice, though a lot of times we’ll just kick the person off the piano.”
For more information and tickets visit LewisvilleSymphony.org.