Ben Chung (Pianist)
What Role Does Music Play In Culture? Music is like a language that delves into the abstract communication of emotions. It provides a medium for people to express themselves and share their feelings with others who can empathize, relate, and celebrate. This in turn strengthens our mental well-being and interpersonal bonds, creating a more resilient and unified society. Which World Culture Is The Most Fascinating To You? I tend to be a very detail-oriented person so I don't necessarily see a collection of people as separated or defined by a single culture, because even within a culture there are all kinds of people with different values and beliefs. I prefer to relate on the personal level: I believe every single person has their own story, equally valid and compelling as the next, and can offer all of us something to learn from. You mentioned in one of your Instagram post that the pianist Chopin evokes contrasting emotions from his piece Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48 No. 1, why is this your favourite Nocturne by Chopin? Are there any personal experience/s that makes this piece resonate to you at a deeper level? I discovered this nocturne when I was a teenager grappling with loneliness. At first I was drawn to the sorrowful melody, reminiscent of a single, isolated singing voice - a musical exemplification of loneliness. But my favourite part of the piece is when this theme is repeated with triplet accompaniment in the tumultuous final section. The triplets add a sense of urgency and agitation, as if in an act of defiance seeking to overcome the initial loneliness.
It was in this defiance and determination where I found hope that perhaps I could overcome the loneliness that I was feeling.
What gravitates you towards more melodic, sentimental, and ballad-like pieces? Listening to slower pieces tends to inspire introspection within me, providing an opportunity for me to process emotions that I'm feeling day-to-day. Playing them helps to put me in a meditative-like state, helping to balance the stress and noise of daily life. In difficult times such as this, can you share some pieces of music/songs that brings you inner peace, solace, and hope? The Prayer - duet with Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
Nella Fantasia - Sarah Brightman
Second Movement from the Pathétique Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 13) - Beethoven Consolation No. 3 - Liszt
Kiss the Rain - Yiruma What Does It Really Mean To Love Someone? To love someone is to know and understand everything that defines them, accept all those aspects of their individuality, and consciously, constantly choose to be involved in each other's lives. This definition transcends romantic love. What Do You Fear For In The Future? I don't believe in fearing too much about the future because it distracts too much from the present. Especially for things that are larger than yourself, that you do not have control over, it is simply a waste of time and energy. For things that we do have control over, it is important to be prudent and plan accordingly. What Gives Life Its Meaning? What I find meaningful is when I have the opportunity to help and connect with other people. That can be through the music that I perform, but is also a value I strive to uphold in the work that I do as a scientist performing research towards the development of new medications. What Do You Think Your Purpose Is? The existence of a purpose implies the presence of an intention. In this sense, purpose is more an end goal, while intention describes how one hopes to achieve it. I much prefer to focus on the process than the result, probably because I find it easier to adapt and respond to circumstances than to manage the grief of unmet expectations. That said, I hope to share the beauty and joys of playing piano (whether classical or contemporary) with as many people as possible; whether I achieve that has yet to be seen! Amidst the global pandemic, how are you coping? It's a very strange and challenging time with a lot of uncertainty right now. A lot of it stems from not knowing what the future holds, which goes back to my previous answer: that it is a waste of time and energy to worry about things you cannot control. However, what I can control is my response to it. I'm striving to stay present, continuing with my regular routine as much as I can (of course within the constraints of social distancing). Being present also involves checking-in with your current mental and emotional self, allowing yourself the time and space to feel what you're feeling, and letting the thoughts come and go as the days pass.
I try to remember gratitude, that despite any difficult news there is still a lot to be grateful for, that without hard days we can never truly appreciate the good ones. These days it seems like we are constantly inundated by the topic wherever we go whether it's in the news or daily conversation, so it's important to keep some distance when it starts to feel unbearable. At the end of the day, I am truly grateful that I can always pour my heart out at the piano for a moment of reflection and respite.