Aileen Gozali
Aileen Gozali
Pianist

"Youngest International Piano Competition Finalist on Her Performing Philosophy" by Kati Vereshaka

NEW YORK—Out of 14 talented pianists, six finalists emerged on stage at Carnegie Hall Oct. 5, 2014, during the Future Stars Recital as part of the NTD TV International Piano Competition.

American-born Indonesian Chinese pianist Aileen Gozali who was 19 years old at the time, received an Honorable Mention Award. She made her concerto debut at the age of 10, and has since been performing on stages all over the world, including Asia, Europe and the United States. 

Gozali spoke to Epoch Times about her unusual environment when she learned to play the piano and her future aspirations.

Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Epoch Times: At what age did you start playing the piano?

Aileen Gozali: I started to play the piano at age five and a half. I grew up on this island in China that is called Gulangyu, and it is nicknamed the island of piano. It is how I started because everyone on the island owns a piano; all the kids learn to play the piano, so naturally, myself and my two other siblings started playing the piano. It didn’t start off as a carrier path, it was more [like] something that everyone did. So we did it too. My brother switched to cello and my sister switched to violin, but I stuck with it. I was a very shy person when I was younger, so I wouldn’t talk to people. I felt most comfortable when I was playing the piano.

I was born in California and my parents are Indonesian Chinese. We moved to China when I was younger and I didn’t speak the language at all, which is also why I didn’t like to talk to people. So music was a way for me to communicate with other people.

Epoch Times: How long do you practice everyday?

Aileen Gozali: I started off with 15 minutes a day. Then, as I got more serious, it became one hour, two hours … and now a minimum of six to seven hours.

Epoch Times: What made you decide to participate in the NTDTV competition?

Aileen Gozali: My previous teacher (at Cleveland) was Antonio Pompa-Baldi, who was the professor that gave master classes at the competition. I knew about the competition through him. I looked up the repertoire requirement, and I happened to know all the pieces that were required so I thought, why not? I also thought that because the piano competition is partners with NTD Television the contestants get a lot of exposure, and that was another thing that I really liked about it.

Epoch Times: You might be the youngest of the finalists.

Aileen Gozali: Yes, I was 19 at the time and I’m currently 20.

Epoch Times: At what age did you start entering competitions?

Aileen Gozali: I started entering competitions when I was eight. In China there are a lot of national competitions and it’s part of our piano education that everyone does competitions, so it’s pretty natural [for me].

Epoch Times: What is your advice to pianists about entering in competitions?

Aileen Gozali: I definitely think that preparedness is very important when it comes to competitions because when the nerves kick in and being in a completely different environment, surrounded by all these wonderful musicians, you never know what’s going to happen.

There are many ways to prepare for a competition: perform many times in front of an audience of many guises—from just your family members to your friends, the general public, and run through your pieces many times. At the competition this should allow you to let go of your nerves, or be more at ease, so that you’ll be able to really just play the music that you love, instead of worrying about all the notes and the mistakes that you will probably make.

Epoch Times: What is the most important thing when you are playing in a competition?

Aileen Gozali: It’s definitely hard to let go of the idea that you are in a competition but for me, competition or performance—there should be no difference. The only difference would be that there are people there who are judging you; but in either case you shouldn’t be playing the music for the judges. You should treat it like any other audience that you would play for. So play your heart out. Put your whole soul into it. Do what you love.

Epoch Times: What do you consider to be the hardest piano piece to play or the hardest composer to play?

Aileen Gozali: I grew up playing Mozart and for me Mozart is the most comfortable to play. Actually the hardest for me is Beethoven because they are so different in terms of personality, style and everything in their compositions. For me it’s hard to switch from Mozart mode to the Beethoven type of playing.

Epoch Times: Who are your favorite composers and why?

Aileen Gozali: Mozart is one of them. I definitely love Chopin. There is so much intimacy and personality that you can put into [playing] Chopin’s music. I also feel that Chopin speaks closest to the audience because his style is very vocal, very narrative, it’s close to speech. Another composer I really love is Rachmaninoff. I’m more geared toward the romantic composers.

Epoch Times: What is the highest achievement you are aiming for in your musical career?

Aileen Gozali: Of course I hope to be able to perform, play music for people and hope that they would be able to relate to my music. I feel like a lot of musicians are so much into building their careers that they forget that music is for people. The ultimate goal is to play music for the people and to bring all sorts of human emotions to your audience. I hope that I will be given the opportunity the future to be able to do that more often. That’s what I want to do.

Link to Interview

Epoch Times | December 21, 2015

Recent Interview as a Finalist at the NTD Piano Competition in New York, NY


"As a parting gift to Singapore before leaving for the States for her university studies, young Indonesian Chinese-American pianist Aileen Gozali gave an hour-long recital at Singapore's Steinway Gallery. A winner of multiple musical prizes and awards, and finalist at this year's Hilton Head International Junior Piano Competition, Aileen's recital was as varied as it was well conceived.

She began with Mozart's Sonata in D major (K576), revealing a crisp and fluent technique. Her pedalling and crafting of the slow movement's lament was examplary, one that touched the heart. Totally different was Bartok's Suite (Op.14), where her rhythmic control and ability to bring on the required muscle and volume to bear showed she could vary her style to suit the music. Yet the quiet ending to the work with its syncopated chords held the most resonance. Then came a most musical reading of Chopin's Fourth Ballade (Op.52), where poetry and passion were worn heart-on-sleeve as it built to a tumultuous climax. She leapt fearlessly into the treacherous coda, and although there were a few missed notes, the overall effect paid rich dividends.

The surest sign of her musical maturity came in her traversal of the eight Fantaisiestucke (Op.12) of Robert Schumann. Not only did she understand its idiom, she also lived its varied moods and emotions like a seasoned veteran. Des Abends was shaped with a pearly lustre while Aufschwung soared with unabated fervour. There was a minor lapse in Warum? but its individual voices came across clearly. Most spectacular was her steely control and tension she generated for In der Nacht, easily the most difficult piece - technically and interpretatively - of the set. The humour in Fabel and the dizzying pirouettes of Traumes Wirren were also keenly displayed before closing with a valedictoryEpilog, the echoes of distant tolling bells bringing the work to a glorious close.

As a cheeky encore, her spin on the Mozart-Volodos Turkish Rondo, with all its Horowitzicms, brought down the house. It was NOT her teacher's choice of work, she readily admitted, which shows that this is young lady - just all of 16 - clearly has a mind of her own too. She will be a massive success wherever she goes.

 Dr Chang Tou Liang | August 4th, 2011

Review on Aileen Gozali's Solo Recital, Steinway Gallery


Delightful and Confident

All of 13 years old, pianist Aileen Gozali tackles mammoth pieces such as Chopin's Ballade No. 4 In F Minor with gusto

Pianist Aileen Gozali's closing concert in the series by musical prodigies for the just-ended Asia On The Edge festival was a genuinely delightful affair, played to a roomful of supporters and parents with children in tow.

Apart from the odd shush and creak, the former Parliamentary Debate Room in The Arts House provided a quaint backdrop for a performance that seemed more like a private tete-a-tete than a concert.

The 13-year-old Indonesian's diminutive yet elegant stature betrayed no hint of the confidence she was about to display.

Haydn's Sonata In C Major was beautifully executed. The opening broken triad motif was cheerfully playful and carried through with brisk finger-work. It was comforting to hear this oft-tested piece in a different light, with more brevity and colouration than what most youth her age are able to convey.

A veteran of the Chopin competition circuit, she chose two contrasting works by the lyrical composer, Variations Brillantes On Je Vends Des Scapulaires and Ballade No. 4 In F Minor.

The latter is known to be one of the most technically demanding of Chopin's compositions and like every child prodigy worth her salt, such demands were clearly not insurmountable for Gozali.

She could rattle off the contrapuntals, the voluminous tensions and the trickling running notes. It was quite fixating to see such a demure-looking pianist confront the mammoths of a powerful work.

Debussy's Reflections In The Water had the usual poetically dreamy sort of feel but was slightly lacking in depth and expression. She made up for this with an interesting transcription of a Chinese melody (Longing For Spring) by Chen Pei Xun.

The choice of Grieg for the finale was an inspired one. Gozali's full-bodied interpretation of Piano Sonata In E Minor was powerful, tempered by warm second and third movements where her quiet maturity was evident. However, no compromise was made in the fourth movement, where intensity and romanticism reigned supreme.

Her choice of pieces were of special significance, as all except the Chinese folk song were learnt after moving to Singapore last July.

She has shown lots of potential, lots of promise and her new home would do well to support and encourage her development.

The Straits Times | December 6th, 2008

Concert Review on TO MY HOME Aileen Gozali (piano),The Arts House


厦门小学生举办个人专场音乐会

6月14日晚,厦门鼓浪屿音乐厅座无虚席,厦门音乐学校六年级学生吴平平在这里举办个人专场钢琴独奏音乐会,向社会展示该校学生艺术教育的成果。这是音校首次小学生个人音乐会。

年仅十二岁的吴平平同学自幼学习钢琴,2005年11月在印尼雅加达举办的亚洲地区钢琴协奏曲比赛中获A组第二名,2006年8月获全国“星海杯”钢琴比赛厦门赛区选拔赛一等奖,2007年3月在美国加州举办的国际青少年钢琴比赛中入围前五名(叶永庚)。

Newspaper Article on Aileen Gozali's Solo Debut in Gulangyu, China | June 15, 2007


印尼华人小留学生:从角落女孩到明星同学

 “水面上栏杆的一排倒影也跟着跳起舞来,岸上的木栏杆神气地看着自己的影子。鱼儿在木栏杆的影子上你蹦我跳。它们一会儿从水里冒出来,一会儿又在栏杆的影子里消失……” 
    这是四年级女孩吴平平写的《木栏杆的倒影》,这篇作文获得了第四届世界华人小学生作文大赛一等奖。而三年前,吴平平还一句中文都不会说呢。 
    吴家是个印尼华人家庭,漂亮的家就安在鼓浪屿龙头路。房子不大但收拾得非常舒适。客厅一面墙刷成柔和的红色,上面镶着完整的两扇中国式大木门,带着铜钉、铜饰,还有门框,非常中国风。这是大老远从北京搬来的。 
    当然,最引人注目的还是,这个家有这么多的乐器!两架钢琴,两把大提琴,当然还有小提琴。吴太太说,三个孩子要分头练习,所以需要这么多乐器。
    吴太太带着三个孩子来到厦门时,并没有想到会一住这么多年。原本准备今年平平的哥哥吴崇华小学毕业全家就回印尼,但是,现在这个计划改变了。妈妈决定让孩子们在鼓浪屿继续“留学”直到崇华初中毕业。


听说她要走,同学们哭了 
    孩子们很高兴。吴平平原本和班上同学说,自己今年就要离开中国了,她和不少同学都哭了。现在,这个文静的小姑娘满心欢喜地告诉同学们妈妈的决定,结果全班都欢呼起来! 
    吴平平是全班最受欢迎的小朋友之一。老师说,班上最调皮的男生,打遍天下却没有打过她。全班同学中就只服平平一个人。让平平坐他旁边,这位小男生的性情、学习都变好了! 
    老师说,吴平平特别善良、柔和,从没见她批评过别人。旁人不由得被她感染。 
    吴家三兄妹分别在厦门音乐学校六年级、四年级、一年级读书。他们心地纯良,毫无杂质,对同学温和友爱,所以同学们都喜欢他们。老师们形容三个小小“留学生”身上有种“很纯、很美”的特质。一位老师说,接手崇华班级的第一个教师节,就收到了这个小男孩亲手制作的小花篮,虽然取材是矿泉水瓶和鼓浪屿的野花,但是崇华做得十分用心,矿泉水瓶成为精致的花器,而野花垂挂在瓶外,十分优美,让老师感动得不得了。 
    平平刚上一年级时,可不是这样。那时她不会说中文,很内向,整整一个月都没叫过“老师”。连校领导都对这个紧闭嘴巴的小女孩有印象,因为“她老是找个角落躲着”。所幸音乐学校是小班化教学,孩子们都可以得到特殊的照顾和教育。


从音乐开始沟通 
    老师想,她对语言有畏惧感,但是对音乐没有畏惧感,而音乐是最容易沟通情感的,那就从音乐开始吧。她钢琴弹得不错,就让她表演钢琴;她英语好,就让她教同学们英语,她一读英语,全班都呆了。老师还安排同学们每天轮着读故事给她听,放学路上也有同学与她同路练说话。 
    集体和这位小女孩互相影响,平平像变了一个人,文静而又落落大方。我们说,“弹一首曲子给我们听吧!”她坐上琴凳,抬手就来一首。 
    哥哥吴崇华学大提琴,上一年级的小妹妹吴安安也在学小提琴,不过,妈妈说,全家还是平平最忙! 
    吴平平钢琴水平在学校里出类拔萃,成为音乐学校的重点培养对象,由校长亲自指导,而每当大师来校上课,她也有机会接受耳提面命。她的作文、书法作品经常参加比赛都得奖。她还是双语小记者团的小记者。


全职陪读妈妈善于学习 
    吴家经常成为孩子们的天堂。孩子们很开朗,周末经常邀请同学们到家里来玩,有时来一大群同学。但是吴太太从不嫌烦,她很欢迎小客人,她说,孩子们喜欢啊,他们可以和同学们多交流。 
    全职“陪读”妈妈已经在厦“陪读”了7年。这位留学硕士7年不工作,但是,身上充满一种少见的知识女性的韵味:谈吐有教养,态度平和从容。 
    她既像普通的家长,到学校陪孩子们学琴,接孩子们放学,但是,又比一般家长倾注了更多的心血。孩子有一道数学作业题不会做,而课上内容也没有教到,她会温和地和老师探讨:老师,出这道题的依据是什么?六一节,她领着孩子们到福利院,和那里的孩子一起过节。 
    孩子天真地告诉她,我长大后一定要娶班上那位女同学,她回答说,你看她的钢琴是不是弹得很好啊,你的大提琴是不是要好好练一练哪? 
    吴太太现在和孩子们使用中文交流,而两三年前她还完全不行。只要语速不太快,老师们的话她都能听懂。音乐学校的老师们称赞她真是一位善于学习的母亲。


和周围的人一样,真好 
    1998年,吴太太一家经人介绍来到厦门。那时印尼有的地方出现排华现象,一家人想到中国来避避社会动乱。他们打电话找到厦门的朋友,“你能安置我们吗?我们要带什么来?”厦门朋友说,没问题,带钱来就行。那时,他们完全不了解厦门,拿着中国地图也找不到厦门,更别提鼓浪屿了。心里很是忐忑不安。 
    一家连佣人共6人飞到厦门一看,厦门很好啊,什么都有,便决心安排孩子们在此读书长住,在鼓浪屿上先租后买了房子。 
    即使后来吴先生返回到印尼工作,吴太太还是带着孩子们在鼓浪屿“安居乐业”。她说,音乐学校的教育水平相当高,像这样开展音乐特色教育的学校,在亚洲也很少有。鼓浪屿成为家庭的重点轴心。几年间,吴先生飞厦门飞了30多趟。 
    “我们很高兴,我们在这里和周围的人都一样了!”吴太太说。她用她能运用的简单词汇表示说,我是中国人,可我不会说中文,因为我们小时候在印尼没有学中文。在印尼,我们和周围的人不一样,后来到美国,我们又和周围的人不一样,我们都不知道自己是什么样的人。 
   “现在我的孩子们和周围的人都一样,长得一样,说话也一样,他们觉得很轻松,和大家一样走路上学,很安全,这样很好!他们知道自己是什么样的人。可是,你知道,我小时候的童年可不是这样。” 
   每到周末,吴太太和孩子们还有一堂必修课——跆拳道。全家一起玩跆拳道,她微笑说,平时都在学习,练跆拳道喊一喊,可以轻松一下!(陈心华)

Article on Aileen Gozali by 厦门侨务 (http://www.overseas.xm.gov.cn/qxdt/qxdt/11986.htm) | 2005

 

Article on Aileen Gozali, 吴平平 —— “追求完美的”印尼侨生 | 2004