Interview with Bridget Yee
BBC Young Musician 2020 Keyboard Finalist Bridget Yee has been studying music in the UK since the age of 11. A multi-instrumentalist, Bridget has performed around the world in countries such as Germany, China and Japan. We were excited to chat to Bridget about her time on BBC Young Musician, and what’s next for this rising star.
Congratulations for progressing into the keyboard category finals in the 2020 BBC Young Musician of the year! What made you want to enter the competition in the first place?
“Thank you, it was a wonderful experience! Actually, it wasn’t the first time I’d entered the competition. I entered the 2018 edition because a few other people from my school were doing it too. I remember being absolutely gutted when I didn’t get through the first round, but two years later, I’ve grown and learnt a lot more.”
The huge audience that watched you in the show saw you play a programme of Scarlatti, Rachmaninov and Messiaen – how did you go about programming this?
“My teacher and I went through countless drafts of programmes with a wide variety of different composers but we finally landed on a fun Scarlatti sonata, the deeply touching Rachmaninov Moment Musical No.1 and the glorious “Noël” from Messiaen’s Vingt Regards.
The first time I heard the Rachmaninov, I immediately knew it was what I wanted to play in the category final. I wanted my programme to be something that could showcase various skills and techniques, as well as having a diverse range of music.”
How did you first get into learning the piano?
“Both my mother and my aunt are musicians, so my house has always been filled with music. According to my aunt, I begged my mum for piano lessons after seeing her teach, so eventually my aunt took on the role of my first piano teacher and then my mum became my second. I’m so grateful that music has always been accessible to me because I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to explore music.”
What is your favourite piece to play on the piano?
“That might well be one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked! Pianists are immensely lucky to have such a huge repertoire and as Rachmaninov said: “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”
I must say that I have an absolute blast playing concertos, especially ones like Liszt’s First Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Second. I’m currently playing Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy which is one of the most amazing pieces I’ve ever played, and I also learnt Schumann’s Carnaval and Kreisleriana over lockdown which I absolutely love! Honestly, I could go on and on!”
You also play cello and double bass – why did you choose these three instruments to play?
“Being the daughter of a double bassist, it was inevitable that I would fall in love with the warmth and sonority of the instrument when I began playing it at eight years old. It gave me a chance to explore magnificent works like Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Missa Solemnis, as well as Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. I learnt so much from Kevin Field, Benjamin Zander and Jac van Steen, whom I’ve worked with. I have found that playing two orchestral instruments have added an additional dimension to my piano playing.
The cello is a relatively new instrument for me that I took up a couple of years ago because I’ve always loved the tone of it and I really enjoy playing it.”
What’s next for you?
“I wish I knew! I’m currently studying for my A-levels and trying to balance my academic school life with piano, which isn’t the easiest. The music industry has been hugely affected by the pandemic and so it’s difficult to come up with any plans for future concerts at the moment, but I’ve used this time to learn as much repertoire as I can in preparation for future concerts and my applications for music conservatoires next year. The next major step for me is what happens after sixth form and where I go from there – I’m very excited to see what the future holds!”
Do you have any advice for any budding young pianists who look up to performers like yourself as they embark on their musical journey?
“From a young age, my dad has instilled a deep sense of self discipline in me which has carried me through life so far, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have achieved anything without it. Something else I always do is seek inspiration everywhere, even from non-music related things, because they impact you as a person and therefore your music-making. For me, my inspirations are sports, literature, philosophy and psychology. But whatever it may be, stay curious and seek inspiration everywhere.”
©Alex Burns 2021
See Bridget’s final performance on BBC Young Musician HERE