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William Mendelbaum: Mastering the Piano Keys on a Global Stage

William Mendelbaum, a standout in the new jazz scene, boasts a career of over 600 concerts. Trained by masters at "EMA Réunion" and through lessons with jazz luminaries, he has performed at renowned venues globally. His albums, collaborations, and numerous awards, including Global Music Awards, showcase his diverse talent.

Recognised as a New Talent in 2022, his debut album "Live in Sunside 2022" garnered acclaim and prizes. With 135+ awards from 45 international piano competitions, William's artistic range extends to painting, poetry, circus, and more. A creative force, he's also a film music composer, TEDx speaker, and author. March 2024 sees another milestone: a performance at Carnegie Hall, highlighting the continued ascent of William Mendelbaum in the world of jazz and beyond.


Now, let's explore together this rising star who seamlessly blends classical and jazz styles. Discover how he utilises the piano to bridge different artistic realms, igniting a splendid interplay between classical and contemporary music!

Topic 1: What initially inspired your compositions? Were you influenced by anyone? Have you experienced changes in your musical journey?

Shu Ya: My initial inspiration comes from a passion for exploring the world, contemplating the universe, and expressing thoughts and the beauty I see through music. In this process, I aim to touch myself first with my music, then resonate with others, sharing the beauty and profound ideas. I believe music is a brilliant gem in human civilization, with great music resonating through history and becoming an everlasting part of our cultural legacy.

My creative thinking has been most influenced by my teacher, composer Ju Wenpei. From my enrollment at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Middle School in 2015 to my graduation in 2021, I studied under Professor Ju. An accomplished composer, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Golden Rooster Award and the "Five-One Project" Award. In class, she ignited our passion for creativity and encouraged us to freely explore philosophy, literature, art, and drama. She guided me to use the feelings from these arts in my music, helping me find unique perspectives in my compositions.

In my musical journey, my creative mindset has constantly evolved. Overall, the scope of my work has broadened, and my mindset has become more inclusive and open. From art songs, piano solos, and chamber music to pop, symphonies, concertos, ethnic orchestral music, electronic music, choral, world music, and even to drama and musical theater, I've adjusted my creative approach in each genre, constantly learning new knowledge in various fields.


Topic 2: What elements or experiences inspire your compositions?

William: It is true that this is my strength. I play a bit of all music with backgrounds in contemporary music, jazz and classical. I prefer jazz because it is a free music, always researching the musical language through improvisation.



Topic 3: Could you share your creative process with us? How do you find inspiration in your daily life?

William: I am constantly inspired by the elements of life around me, things are always happening, you just have to be aware, present. Then I take the instrument and it goes very quickly.


Topic 4: You have extensive experience collaborating with others. Can you share the differences in your creative experience between personal projects and collaborative ones? How do both aspects influence your musical style?

William: I am a musician very open to collaborations, however I am much more engaged in my music since it is more personal. These 2 aspects constantly enrich my music.

Topic 5: You've been named ECM's artist of the month several times. Could you share your thoughts on this honour? What efforts contributed to your achievements today?

William: I have worked hard and I am very proud to have won these awards. It's a shame that there isn't invitation concerts in prestigious venues. I currently want to play with an orchestra but it's quite complicated and the opportunity doesn't present itself. It would be great if the winners would have support in their careers.


Topic 6: You've ventured into different artistic fields such as theatre, dance, film music, and advertising. How do you leverage your musical talent in these diverse areas? How does this diversity impact your music composition, and how do you balance between these different fields?

William: I worked in these areas following meetings. It's very inspiring to work differently, it allows you to work on your creativity again and again.


Topic 7: Additionally, how do you integrate music with visual arts such as painting and sketching? Are these creations extensions of your music, or do visual arts provide stimulation for your musical composition?

William: It must be said that everything inspires me. For the visual arts, I can't help but see them in movement through music, it stimulates the imagination.



Topic 8: As a musician acclaimed as an "extraordinary musician and composer," what are your recent or future music plans and goals? Could you enlighten us on that?

William: I would really like to perform with an orchestra playing my compositions. I also want to play in the most prestigious venues in the world, continue competitions, and continue collaborations, and to perform internationally.


Topic 9: Do you have any advice for young musicians aspiring to excel in the field of music? Any encouraging words for them?

William: I think you always have to try, try again, try again, surround yourself well, be patient. You also have to have fun when you play, because if the pleasure is not there, you will get bored and you will spend much less time than a passionate person. I try to stick to this advice even today and there are quite difficult moments when we are alone in our art.


Topic 10: Is there anything you'd like to share with the audience regarding recent activities or interesting projects?

William: I like surprises, follow me I'm performing in quite a few venues for the year 2024, and still creative projects in progress, it's a formality.



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