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Lucas Giles-Kang has become a piano virtuoso at the age of 14. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Muso discovers passion for piano

A Hauraki Plains College student who admits he didn’t have the patience for the violin, has become a virtuoso of playing the piano instead.
Lucas Giles-Kang recently impressed his peers at the Ngatea college by playing Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ – captured in a video that has had more than 29,000 views on Facebook.
But Lucas’ heart lies with a more classical repertoire, and he hopes he’ll one day be able to pursue the art professionally.
The 14-year-old Year 10 student began learning the piano after being introduced to it at his cousins’ house almost two years ago.
“Of course, their piano was over one hundred years old – it was terrible and out of tune and it sounded more than a semitone down,” he said. “But I love Mozart and Chopin and after a while, I did piano coursebooks, but didn’t even finish the fourth one because I got bored of it…
“And you can’t play music unless you actually enjoy it.”
So, Lucas decided to teach himself how to tickle the ivories, and eventually tackled a “really complicated piece”.
That piece was Chopin’s Heroic Polonaise in A Flat Opus 53.
It is regarded as one of Chopin’s most admired compositions, with the physically-demanding piece featuring difficult technical aspects, such as trills with the weaker fingers and quick scales.
“It was very complex,” Lucas said, “but I seem to have got the hang of it now.”
He admitted he “gave up once or twice” when trying to master the composition, but said he was inspired to continue learning by a Russian pianist – the late Vladimir Horowitz.
“He was very skilled, and I don’t think anybody could replicate him, and he was kinda what made me continue with this piece,” he said.
Lucas taught himself how to read piano sheet music, but when he performed the seven-minute-long Heroic Polonaise for The Profile, he remembered the piece by heart.
“All the time, in my head, chords will be coming along. I think about them all the time,” he said. “But this piece was the first difficult piece I tackled, and I notice that when something’s really difficult, sometimes you’ll play it well, sometimes you won’t play it well, but after that, you start to develop more confidence.
“I performed it for the school, but I really wasn’t happy with the way I played, because I tried to do it too much like Horowitz – and I have to be myself.”
When asked if he had plans to pursue piano, Lucas said he thought “about it every day”.
“You don’t always make the most money out of music, and it’s a lot easier for some people than others to pursue it, but everyone from any background still has to work hard,” he said.