The keys to success

Few piano duos have earned the acclaim bestowed on husband and wife team Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung.

From meeting in Japan in 1997 to their first performance together as a duo in 2003, this musical team has performed on stages from Canada to Russia and in no less than a dozen countries in between.

Although they are both acclaimed as solo artists, Bax and Chung will perform throughout the Atlantic provinces as a part of Debut Atlantic’s 2012 tour roster. Their show this coming Friday night in Moncton will be staged as part of the Moncton Community Concert series. Friday’s show is dedicated to Ruth Aiken, outgoing president of the Moncton Community Concert Association who has served a dozen faithful years helping to bring music to Metro Moncton.

With a program slated to include the works of Schubert, Brahms and Astor Piazzolla, the duo will also perform ‘Centaurus A’, written by Canadian composer Heather Schmidt.

Reached via phone by the Times & Transcript, Lucille Chung was in Seoul, South Korea and was preparing to embark on a 12-day cruise scheduled to depart from Dubai. She and Bax performed four shows over the 12-day span on the MS Europa, a cruise ship that carries up to 400 passengers catered to by a staff of approximately 500. Not a bad way to spend almost two weeks. In fact, Chung goes so far to call it a semi-vacation for the couple.

Chung says that rather choosing to play the piano, she likes to think that music chose her.

‘My parents love music and the arts but neither of my parents were musical in the sense that they played,’ Chung says. ‘When I was six years old, I was attending a private school for girls and it seemed as though everyone there was taking piano lessons. My teacher was actually a trained violinist and had a wonderful sense of joy and love for music that I was immediately taken with. I didn’t even own a piano for the first year but my teacher started enrolling me in both local and regional competitions and I started to win them.’ By the time she was 10 years old, Chung had performed with the Montreal Symphony.

She believes that having started to play piano at such a young age helped her approach the instrument with unbridled passion which might not have been the case had she started later in life.

‘From the first time I stepped on stage, I loved being up there. I love walking on stage and feeling the audience is there with me. It becomes kind of an intoxicating feeling.’ In addition to being acclaimed performers, both Bax and Chung also dedicate their time to education, including giving master classes at institutions including New York University and Cornell University while also serving together on juries for international piano competitions in North and South America.

For better or worse, neither Chung nor Bax will see much rest over the next couple of months. Their schedule is full until around June 9 when the husband and wife team will retreat to their New York City home for almost two full weeks. While this might not sound like any significant amount of time to those of us who do not live the life of a professional musician, Chung insists that it is indeed going to be a nice little break for them. ‘We are very fortunate to be able to travel to these places. Both of us truly enjoy being at home though. Alessio loves to cook and we find that a big part of our days at home tend to revolve around food and what to buy and what to cook. It will be nice to decompress at home; it is a very nice feeling to live a somewhat normal life, even just for a period of time,’ Chung laughs.

Article published in April 25, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript