Hills Grammar A Classical Ceremony

Each year the new Hills Grammar scholars are welcomed into the cohort with a morning tea for staff and parents, a badge ceremony and an address by a former scholar.

The covidera has presented many challenges for performance artists, however, it also has meant internationally-acclaimed classical pianist Van-Anh Nguyen (Class of 2004) was available to address the 2021 Hills Grammar scholars.

Van-Anh was born to Vietnamese refugee musicians and commenced her piano studies at the tender age of 13 months old, with a debut appearance at Sydney Opera House just seven years later.

She has enjoyed remarkable success as a composer, recording artist and concert pianist with an ARIA chart-topping album and several iTunes #1 singles. Her love of performance and intense (pre-covid) touring career across the globe saw Van-Anh based in both Los Angeles and Sydney.

In 2009, with only a year to go before completing a Law degree Van-Anh realised she could not maintain her commitment to both all-consuming careers.

Music was the victor, yet it was not an easy path to becoming a celebrated recording and performance artist. Her style did not exactly ‘fit the classical mould’.

“I guess I was trying to stand out without consciously knowing it. When you’re younger, life is all about fitting in, but when you’re older, life is all about standing out. Standing out is how you land jobs, it’s how you get those gigs and kick your goals. Don’t steer away from standing out; embrace it.

Whether it was how I chose to dress for a concert breaking traditional dress code boundaries, to what I do now, which is bridging the gap between classical, pop and electronic music by creating mash ups and playing in unconventional venues, I kept pushing.”

Van-Anh left her audience with this important message and a stunning performance of Piazzolla Libertango followed by a spell-binding duet with Year 9 Music scholar Jack Theakston, performing Chopin Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Minor, Op. 65.

Hills District readers will recognise Jack as a regular artist in the Galston Concert series and Van-Anh, a 2004 Hills Shire Council Creative Arts grant recipient.

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