Pianist Cindy Thong is returning to Nova Scotia to give performances, including a recital at Grace United Church in Dartmouth on Sunday, March 10, as part of its concert series. Thong, who grew up in Dartmouth and then Jeddore on the Eastern Shore, has been studying and performing around the world.
“I’m glad to be back in Nova Scotia performing,” Thong says. “I try not to forget my roots. I’m grateful to be from the East Coast.”
Thong started playing piano around age six when she and her family moved to the Eastern Shore. Her mother offered to sign her up for lessons with a local piano teacher. Thong is now a doctoral candidate at l’Université de Montréal, studying piano under the direction of Jimmy Brière. She’s also pursuing a second master’s degree at La Haute École de Musique de Genève, where she studies piano with Dominique Weber.
Now, at age 27, Thong has an impressive career in music. She’s won first place in competitions, including the NSRMTA Competition, the Halifax Kiwanis Festival Rose Bowl, the FMFNS Provincial Music Festival and the NSYO Concerto Competition. She has been a finalist or prize winner with the FCMF National Music Festival, the CFMTA National Piano Competition, the Concours Hélène-Roberge, the Concours Prix d’Europe and the Canadian Music Competition. She also won the 2009 Debut Atlantic Award for Musical Excellence.
“It’s an expression of myself, of what I thought I could share with the world,” Thong says.
In 2013, Thong performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18, under the direction of Juno award-winning composer, conductor and pianist Dinuk Wijeratne. She was also a soloist with Nova Sinfonia.
Thong says one of the highlights of her career has been the friends she’s made. They live in different parts of the world, but she says they all share a love of music.
“To be able to connect like that, even though we don’t speak the same language,” she says.
At the piano recital at Grace United Church, Thong says she will play works from the golden age of piano, including Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Haydn.
Malcolm Bradley, who is the director of music at Grace United Church and organizes the concert series at the church, says he and Thong planned a performance in 2017, but the timing didn’t work out. Bradley says he’s heard her work, but never heard her live.
“This seemed like an ideal opportunity for people in the area to hear Cindy perform — people that have enjoyed her performances in the past and perhaps some that have never had the opportunity to hear her play,” Bradley says. “This is the first solo piano performance that Music at Grace has presented. It will be exciting to have that first with such a fine performer.”
Thong’s played at venues of all sizes, but enjoys small, intimate settings, like the venue at Grace United Church.
“I like to speak with the audience and get to know them,” she says. “It’s a more personal experience.”
She’ll perform at Grace United Church on Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and are available at the door or by calling the church office at 902-466-3329.