Young Artist Interview: Ke Ma

Pianist Ke Ma studied piano performance at the Royal Academy of Music with Christopher Elton and chamber music with Michael Dussek and Andrew West. A winner of the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ prestigious Prince’s Prize and a Maisie Lewis Young Artists Fund concert, she performs as a soloist, chamber musician and with leading orchestras and conductors worldwide.

When did you start playing the piano?
My grandfather introduced piano to me when I was three years old.

Do you play, or have you tried playing, another instrument?
I did, but not very seriously… I was born in a musical family; my father is a composer and conductor, so I tried his baton, and my mother’s viola when I was little. I remember a strange feeling coming over me when I tried violin and viola and thinking that if I played too much it would hurt my arm. Maybe it was not very comfortable to hold and play compared to the piano.

What’s the hardest part about being a pianist and what’s the best?
The hardest thing for me is being a versatile pianist! Today’s music world is so competitive that you can’t just practice piano 24 hours a day at home. I have to arrange my schedule very carefully so things don’t clash and that I have time to reply to emails, prepare for concerts and read etc. The best bit is I can play and perform with many different people and share my musical ideas with others, no matter how much we disagree with each other. I always find inspiration or even stimulation in that process.

What’s your most memorable performance?
I once had a nosebleed during my performance in a music festival in Canada. Afterwards my mentor told me not to worry because I was wearing a red dress… I still remember it!!

If you were the artistic director of a concert hall what would be on your programme this season?
I would find charming and attractive works for the audience that would engage them. I would not completely focus on contemporary music, but find a better way of delivering classical music.

What makes a good live performance in your opinion?
Someone said there are generally two kinds of performance: those that make you want to go for a drink after the concert and those in which you’d prefer to go to bed. When I hear a really good performance I prefer to go home and sleep because it can make me so emotional and I like to reflect on the performance again by myself.

How did winning the Prince’s Prize and Maisie Lewis Young Artists Fund help your career?
They gave me more public exposure and helped me further my study and music experience.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
I am going to be involved in a professional recording project with my friend. We are recording a disc for Champs Hill record label in April, which will hopefully be released at the end of this year.

Where can people find out more about you?
Please visit my website at or connect with me via Facebook (Ke Ma) or Twitter @KeMaPianist .