PNJA student Madeleine Xiao wins piano concerto competitions

Madeleine Xiao, aged 14 and a student of the Pettman National Junior Academy for the last three years, was recently awarded first prize in the North Shore Performing Arts Society’s piano concerto competition. She performed a section of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 17, K. 453, in G minor. Of her recent success, Madeleine comments: “I’m really proud of myself as it was my first time playing a piano concerto in front of an audience. I really enjoyed working with the orchestra and it was a great experience”. 

About six musicians (up to the age of 17) entered the concerto competition, with three advancing to the final. Madeleine, who currently goes to Carmel College, studies piano with the vastly experienced duo of Rae de Lisle and Bryan Sayer and has been learning since the age of five. At the competition itself Madeleine performed the first movement and cadenza of Mozart’s seventeenth piano concerto, written in 1784, no doubt impressing the panel of judges in the process.

It may have been Madeleine’s first time performing a piano concerto in public, but competitions are far from unfamiliar to the rising Pettman Academy star. She has been involved with the North Shore Performing Arts Society since the age of nine, recently winning first prize in the J. S. Bach piano competition (giving an outstanding performance of the Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp major, BWV 872), first prize in the 8-minute recital category, and second prize in the Classical section.

In 2018 she was a junior finalist at the Wallace National Piano Competition, and in July of this year will compete in the semi-final of the main section of the competition. The event will be adjudicated by Charles Owen of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and Madeleine will perform a programme of works by Haydn, J. S. Bach and Schumann. Impressively, she is the youngest person to ever be awarded a place in the main section of the competition.

Of the academy, Madeleine says: “I look forward to coming each week. It’s a great opportunity to learn new things, perform music individually and as an ensemble, and make new friends”. She has particularly enjoyed the masterclasses offered by the academy as they provide the opportunity to learn from different musicians and experience new perspectives on music.

Madeleine seems to be gaining much from the chamber music programme that is going on in the academy at present: “I really like the idea of different instruments coming together to create something beautiful”. Her longer-term ambition is to be a professional pianist; already she has hopes to one day go to the USA for further study and to compete in the very prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition. Everyone at the PNJA is delighted to hear about Madeleine’s successes and we are certain to hear about many more of them in the future!