The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV hosts award-winning pianist for presentation, performance of Beethoven

GVL/Dylan Hoffius

Vietnamese pianist Nhi Luong lectured and performed Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E-minor, Op. 90 at Grand Valley State University’s Sherman van Solkema Recital Hall on Jan. 11. 

Luong began the evening by speaking on the history and composition of the sonata. Demonstrating sections of the piece during her lecture, those in attendance were able to follow along to her presentation with printed sheet music. Luong also took time after her presentation to answer any questions from the audience, which consisted primarily of undergraduate GVSU piano students. 

“GVSU was the best audience that any performer could have asked for,” Luong said. “Everyone gave me such warm and welcoming feelings, and the genuine curiosity and thoughtful questions made the interaction truly special.”

Luong is currently a doctoral candidate and has dual master’s degrees in piano performance and chamber music from the University of Michigan. Her piano journey began in Vietnam when she was only four years old. After graduating from the Vietnam National Academy of Music, Luong was given the opportunity to study abroad. Traveling to Austria and then Singapore, where she received her undergraduate degree at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Luong’s career as a pianist includes work on three continents.

“I want to be able to speak the truth and beauty in music, connect the listeners and let them create their own interpretation and imagination,” Luong said.

While she has received recognition and awards throughout her journey as a pianist, Luong’s most recent successes have earned her the opportunity to travel and perform. This year, Luong will be touring England and Italy, thanks to her win at the 2023 Sicily International Piano Competition. Additionally, her participation in 2023’s Telekom Beethoven International Piano Competition will soon take her to Austria to give a recital in Salzburg.

It was Luong’s participation in the Telekom Beethoven International Piano Competition last year that allowed her to focus on Beethoven’s musical works, inspiring the lecture and performance that she brought to GVSU. 

“After working on a few piano sonatas by Beethoven, I realized this E-minor Op. 90 is such a beautiful and intriguing work,” Luong said. “It’s not always just beautiful, sometimes it’s even painful to hear, but aren’t we listeners all yearning for different emotions or experiences when we listen to music?”

The beauty of the piece, coupled with the struggles that Beethoven faced during its composition, is what inspired Luong to discuss and share the sonata with classical composition enthusiasts and admirers at GVSU.

Sookkyung Cho, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Piano at GVSU, helped organize Luong’s visit to campus. Cho said she was excited about the composition Luong decided to speak about and play.

“Beethoven’s Op. 90 is something everybody should know and have the chance to know about,” Cho said. “I think just going in depth about what the piece is about can be really helpful (for piano students). It (Luong’s presentation) is such a treat for us because our undergrad students get to experience what graduate students do.”

Luong ended the event by playing the entirety of Beethoven’s sonata and encouraged the students in attendance to keep exploring and seeking new life experiences. 

“Sometimes you don’t have to sit in front of the piano to get ideas or inspiration,” Luong said. “Always keep your eyes and ears open to the music. Keep your mind and heart open– the answer might already be there.”

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