by Barbara Cottavoz, from La Stampa of 14 September
“This competition saved my life: during the lockdown I lost all my work commitments and I could no longer study due to the sadness of the situation the world was going through.” Tianyi Lu, 30, is the winner of the Cantelli Prize for conductors. She is the new heiress of the Novara maestro who died in a plane crash in Orly in 1956. Small and tough, she was born in China, lived for a decade in New Zealand where part of her family is, spent confinement in England alone and in June moved to The Hague but she also speaks a little Italian. She is conductor in residence at the Welsh National Opera and the St Woolos Symphony in the UK and, until last December, she was assistant conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. On Sunday, at the Cantelli prizegiving, Tianyi Lu also won the Orchestra Prize of the Teatro Regio Torino and the Youth Prize awarded by a jury of students and artistic writers to conduct a concert at the Coccia Theatre Foundation and one at the Teatro Regio Torino.
Did you already know the maestro Guido Cantelli?
“I discovered his story many years ago and it struck me a lot. When I learned of the online competition, I decided to sign up. It was not a competition with others but with myself: I was in a very sad moment”
What did this award mean?
“For me, the Cantelli Prize meant hope for the future after difficult months in which the pandemic had caused the cancellation of all my engagements and I wasn’t even able to read music, I saw everything black. When they invited me, I tried to get to know Turin and Novara better and I was very struck by the courage with which this region was fighting the pandemic. So, from the start, I decided that if I won I would donate part of the prize to charity”.
Who did you choose?
“I decided to donate to the “Specchio dei tempi” foundation because it supports the elderly and people in need. In this difficult moment, we need to help each other. It is natural to be afraid but we must not give up hope”.
What was the best aspect of this experience?
“I loved the orchestra of the Teatro Regio: its musicians are very generous and friendly and I found myself in total harmony with them. I felt at home”.
You seem to dance on the podium…
“When I get on the podium I feel like a child playing with music and discovering its infinite possibilities. Every time I go on a journey with the orchestra to discover this wonder. Music and art must survive, without them we risk forgetting who we are”.