Question: You once said that playing Bach is like playing Nintendo. How so?
Hilda Huang: Well, okay so, when I was really young, I loved playing
video games and I kind of noticed that when you play video games, you
have to be really, really focused. So if you're playing maybe "Mario
Cart" on the Nintendo 64, so you're driving along and of course there's a
koopa waiting to hit you. But if you blink or you say, "Oh I need to
get something to eat or I need some chips," so you put your controller
down, and, wham, the koopa smashes in to you, so you die and lose a
life. And of course, in video games, you have plenty of lives, so it's
okay. But in Bach, when you're performing, you don't have that kind of a
privilege. So you have to stay really focused through the whole thing
and you can't stop.
Question: When was your first public performance?
Hilda Huang: I think that was when I was five or six. I think
six. I went to this piano competition in Oakland and I was playing a
piano concerto with my older piano teacher, and I think that was the
first time I ever played in public, which is kind of interesting because
it wasn't actually a performance, it was a competition.
Question: Do you get nervous before a performance?
Hilda Huang: I mean of course I get nervous, so I just try to
focus on the music itself. I try not to think about anything besides the
music. So usually before I walk on stage, I'm just kind of playing the
piece over to myself again and again and walking through some of the
spots where I know I need to be focused on what kind of sound or
character I'm producing.
Question: What happens if you make a mistake during a performance?
Hilda Huang: Often in Bach, if you make a big mistake, it's
really difficult to find your way back, so it's almost necessary to just
stop and start over again, which I've done that a few times. But if
just little mistakes, like if you miss a couple of notes, I try to
forget about that section and maybe skip to a few bars forward so that a
few bars forward, I know that I can keep playing and it'll be fine.
Recorded on June 7, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman