A pianist’s profession is a complex one that requires high skills. Not everyone with musical talents are able to become a professional pianist.
The following is an interview with rising pianist B.Oyungerel, also known as B.Oyu, about the music industry and other relevant issues.
Why did you change your name to Oyu?
My parents gave me the name Oyungerel, but there were many cases of mispronunciation at foreign and domestic competitions and events. I switched to Oyu in order to make it easier to pronounce as well as to pursue the standards set for artists to have a stage name.
Thousands of people are aspiring and making various works for the ever-difficult classical arts. The number of Mongolian pianists entering foreign music circles is considerably low. In general, how developed is piano music in Mongolian?
Mongolia is able to teach the basics incredibly well. All of my instructors studied in Russia. There’s an academy for only classical arts in Russia. It’s a major success that Mongolia was able to learn from Russia’s experience and establish the academy in Mongolia.
Although the basics are taught well, musicians aren’t able to train. Training to become a full-fledged musician isn’t solely dependent on instructors. Abundant intellect and funds are required. It also depends on many other aspects other than these contributions.
I hope the ministry and other relevant organizations unite someday and face one another head-on and accept their shortcomings.
Truthfully, young artists aren’t acknowledged. Their accomplished works aren’t recognized as it should. When they criticize the reality, they receive immense countercharge and get accused of disrespecting their elders. Even though Mongolians claim that we’re talented and skilled, we’re unable to qualify for the second round of A [high] level competitions. This is a fact. The competitions we enter aren’t of B level but of C level that are organized for amateurs.
When I took several children with me to Italy to participate in a competition, children who trained at the Music and Dance College of Mongolia, a vocational school, they won 100 Euros in prize or a certificate from competing against children who learned at home. When they returned to Mongolia, they got 14 million MNT from the state. This isn’t development, but destruction. Instructors and children aren’t entering competitions for improving skills. Why can’t that 14 million MNT reward be used for musical education? We should spend it on training children who are trying to take part in A level competitions. For instance, [the government] can become responsible for food, rent, and all other needs of children taking part in A level competitions.
I made three appointments to discuss this issue with the minister but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet her. Glooming over it will not solve anything. We need to search for other means and opportunities to resolve the issue.
In Europe, people focus on educating children through classical arts. It’s the same in Mongolia. There are tons of people who are interested in learning piano as an adult. Is it very different to learn piano at a young age than learning it when you’re older?
People at any age can learn to play the piano. The significance of learning to play at a young age is that it’s not only a matter of learning music. It becomes their upbringing and education and helps them mature. Many people are discussing education as it’s become a standard. It’s classified depending on whether it’s an education for the brain, spirituality, or upbringing. If it’s taught at early ages, it becomes a comprehensive education for these aspects.
A 30-year-old can learn to play instruments. However, it will not affect their mentality since they’ve already matured and developed their individual views of the world. The most appropriate age to teach instruments is when children are four or five. It’s the time when they start growing, understand ethics and morals, and start developing different emotions. Europeans realized this 300 to 400 years ago, and executed it in their daily lives. I’m grateful to know that this is being introduced to Mongolia and increasing the awareness of the people.
People often criticize the society for inclining towards one that is more frustrating, crude, and crueler. The key to this is arts and cultural policy. Especially classical arts education should be given to children from an early age. We should make opportunities for children to start enjoying drawing, painting, sculpting, and doing ballet and encourage parents to support their children to set foot in the amazing world of learning about oneself, feeling other’s love and respect.
How did arts contribute in your life and upbringing?
I didn’t notice it while learning. It may be because I hadn’t completely finished learning. When a woman turns 30, a new door opens. Some even explain this as another transition period. This door is starting to open for me and I’m beginning to know myself more. From the top, I’m realizing what sorts of upbringing and personality I got from the teachings of my instructors and music. A few days ago, even with my constant fault pin-pointing during a lesson, my student repeated the same mistake three times. At the moment, I started pondering on the fact that music may have taught me that we should learn from our mistakes. I don’t assess myself, but others do. There’s no such thing as a perfect man who doesn’t make any mistakes. A person’s wisdom is shown on how often you repeat mistakes, learn from it and develop good habits. I try not to make or repeat mistakes and try to realize when making mistakes. I was able to cultivate many positive characteristics such as having patience at any circumstance. For instance, I got a special award at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition which was organized in February. I was the oldest participant but I was proud of myself. Continuing this line of work is a very challenging thing to do in the music industry. Only few continue to work. I tossed everything to the side and trained for ten hours for a whole month to partake in the competition. It may sound easy but it’s difficult to actually do it. Rehearsing every day for a month, while overcoming laziness and turning my back to other important matters, requires a lot of patience. I make an effort to bring up this patience whenever I come across an issue or an obstacle.
What’s the foremost important thing the arts and culture sector should do to expand and grow?
Mongolia doesn’t have a sector for musicians. This sector isn’t developed at all. There isn’t a job position for solo pianists. The arts and culture sector should work to establish these job positions. Currently, half of the graduates of the Music and Dance College are working in their profession, and half have tossed it away. This is correspondent to the low salary. Policies and markets should be considered for increasing salaries. We should bring together people who are interested. Just like choral songs, music is able to bring people together. We should do something interesting and attract people in a similar way. By grabbing an audience and forming a market, a certain amount of money will be able to circulate. This’ll enable ambitions to flare up and motivate new graduates. At the moment, all of them are depressed thinking about where and what kind of work they should do. There are many talented and skilled graduates who are as valuable as “gold”. Monetary issue is the main reason why musicians and artists aren’t debuting. Also, we’re unable to neither work cooperatively nor support one another.
What is your future goal and how will you contribute in attaining recognition for Mongolian pianists internationally?
Classical art originated from Europe. We should get recognition by playing European compositions. In terms of cultural heritage and intellectual education, Mongolians are ranked comparatively high. My objective is to introduce music of Mongolian composers to Europe, if not, then at least to Asia. Mongolian musicians can’t surpass works of European composers as they are already well-known and played by everybody. Chinese famous pianist Lang Lang and other talented musicians of Korea and Japan have been acknowledged from Asia. It’ll take at least 100 years to surpass them. This is how outdated Mongolian music is. I wish to play amazing pieces of Mongolian composers who haven’t been recognized in Asia in order to lessen the distance.
In Mongolia, there aren’t any composers who were able to attain fame through compositions like that of Beethoven and Mozart. The simple fact of Mongolia having composers of this caliber may become a huge advantage for getting world recognition. Currently, Mongolia doesn’t know which aspect it should use to get world recognition. Although mining made uproar for a period, investors are now running away from Mongolia. Foreign trade is out of the question as it’s facing a crisis. Mongolia must find a gateway for getting recognition. Classical art itself has become the world’s measure for intellectualism. It’s the most valuable cultural asset. Mongolia has a potential to get recognition through classical arts.
I hope a lot of people support and cooperate to make this work successful. I will draft a project, work and make efforts for it. My primary aspiration is to contribute in stamping a better image and name for Mongolia and help get recognition from the world, even if it’s a small contribution.
Trans. by B.DULGUUN
Source: Undesnii Shuudan
Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=11233