January 2015


With the support of my friends and family, I have decided to enter CBC’s Piano Hero, The search for Canada’s favourite amateur pianist. I am very happy to have submitted something, although I was extremely ill at the time I recorded (you can see I am even wearing sweatpants for the recording!). I decided to play Liszt/Schumann Widmung, a piece I just learned recently for encores in past performances. It’s a piece that has become very close to me, as it reminds me of all the things I love in life. Hopefully you will be able to hear some of this emotion coming through the video.

This competition is put on by CBC and the prizes are pretty amazing. There’s a trip to Toronto to perform with the TSO, a private lesson with Emmanuel Ax, a video taping session, and even an upright piano sponsored by Steinway. For me, I think it is great that CBC has adopted the idea of an “amateur pianist”, as this definition has been something I have been pushing so hard over the past number of years to develop. When I first heard of the term “amateur pianist”, I always associated it with something of a lesser value. Ever since competing in the Paris competition in 2006, I have devoted my musical life to be an ambassador of amateur pianists around the world, in hopes to inspire people to never give up on their passion to play. It was difficult and humbling to admit that I wouldn’t be a concert pianist, but little did I know it would be the best decision of my life. Even though we have careers and obstacles in our lives, we can still find time to do the things we love. 

This particular Piano Hero event is open to all ages, whether you have studied in music school or not. It’s a little odd to see most of the entries are from people who are currently attending music school or planning to enter a musical profession. I’m not really sure they should be considered amateur, as they probably aren’t aspiring to become amateur musicians. For instance, when I was in dental school I never called myself an amateur dentist! Nonetheless, these are the regulations and there is no judgement on who should or should not enter. For me, I can be proud to say that I am a true amateur pianist, always having taken private lessons in between academic studies and professional work, and never taking payment for my performances. I don’t think anyone can debate that I am not an amateur by definition.

The term amateur is latin for “love”, so as long as we are all lovers of piano, then we are all amateur pianists! Kudos to CBC for bringing us into the spotlight for a while. I really do hope you get the chance to vote. If it happens that you vote for me, then all the better! Please feel free to vote daily for the next week. Good luck to all entries! Here is the link (you can use Facebook, and if not you can register your email address as well):


Anyone who dares to play Beethoven's last Piano Sonata Opus 111 must be fearless and confident in his skills. In the case of Thomas Yu, both are true...[He] plays the piece with elegance and depth...and his interpretation was the highlight of the festival day.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's largest newspaper, translated.

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