Meet Ima Hogg Competition Semi-finalist Samuel Chan! This talented 22 year old marimba player began percussion studies at age 6. A graduate of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) and New England Conservatory, Samuel is currently attending The Juilliard School to pursue a Master of Music degree. We recently got a chance to ask Samuel a few questions about life, music, and most importantly…food!
Houston Symphony: Where did you grow up and how did that community affect who you have become?
Samuel Chan: I was born and raised in Hong Kong. There are always a great variety of concerts, such as pop, new music, Chinese and Western classical music. I think growing up in that community has made me have diverse musical tastes. I enjoy listening to a wide range of music genres.
HS: Are there other musical people in your family?
SC: No one else in my family is a musician, but they all like music and are always very supportive of me. When I performed in Hong Kong, they would always come to see my performances. I feel fortunate to have such a supportive family.
HS: At what age did you begin playing your instrument and what memories do you have of your first rehearsals or performances?
SC: I began studying percussion at age 6, first learning how to play drums. I picked up marimba at age 9, and it has become my favorite percussion instrument.
HS: What has been the most exciting event for you in your musical career?
SC: The most exciting event for me in my musical career is when I performed a marimba concerto with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra when I was 17 as a result of winning a competition. I was really excited and nervous at the same time because it was my first time playing with a professional orchestra. It was an absolutely amazing experience!
HS: Do you have any pre-performance habits or rituals?
SC: I usually think about the piece that I am going to perform and do mental practice slowly in my brain.
HS: Who are some of your most profound influences and what is the impact they have had on you?
SC: I would say my parents and all the teachers that have taught me. My teachers have been a great musical influence and inspiration to me, and without the support of my parents I wouldn’t have gotten to pursue a career in music.
HS: Who is the most famous person you have met or worked with?
SC: I guess the most famous person I have met is Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie. I played in her masterclass in Hong Kong. I really admire her strong will to overcome her deafness and become a world-class musician. She is a wonderful person and a true inspiration to me.
HS: What are the “top five” pieces or songs on your playlist or iPod?
SC: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Bach’s Largo from Violin Sonata No. 3 in C major and any album by Hiromi Uehara.
HS: Do you have any favorite TV shows?
SC: “Keeping Score” created by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, although I’m not sure if it really counts as a TV show. [Laughs]
HS: Do you have a favorite kind of food?
SC: Japanese food.
HS: Do you have a favorite city or other destination to visit?
SC: My hometown, Hong Kong!
HS: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music?
SC: I love cooking and trying out different kinds of recipes!
See Samuel Chan perform Sejourne’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings and Koppel’s Concerto No. 1 for Marimba and Orchestra for FREE at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music on Thursday June 2. And don’t forget to get tickets to the Finals Concert!