Pianist Alana Chiang ’24 Strives to Shine Unique Individuality Through Music

Despite her personal connection with her instrument and the music she plays, Alana Chiang ’24 did not develop her passion for the piano at first sight. Having played the instrument from age five, Chiang reveals that the first person who truly sparked her love for music was a teacher who, unlike the ones she had before, motivated her to change her passive perspective towards piano.

“My role model is my teacher… because he works really hard, and he inspires everyone in his studio to try their best…[he] taught me why I should play the piano and taught me all about the musicality…behind the notes on the page,” said Chiang.

Currently attending Andover on weekdays and The Juilliard School Pre-College on weekends, Chiang has returned to Andover after a year of focusing on her musical commitments. During Junior year, she played for several chamber groups; this year, she hopes that she will become more involved in music at Andover after coming back from her leave.

“Andover’s community, because it brings so many diverse students with different backgrounds and talents, there [are] so many great musicians here… I can have the opportunity to have other students who have the same interests as me, and I can also play with them and work with them in chamber music,” said Chiang.

According to Chiang, playing the piano goes beyond playing the notes on the page to the specific emotions of the piece, which she analyzes through the historical backgrounds of the piece. Through her performance, Chiang hopes that her individuality and her unique interpretation of the piece is conveyed to the audience.

“I feel like each specific piece of music has its own color and intent. And each performer has the ability to interpret it in the way that they want to…at some point it stops becoming the technical part of piano… There isn’t one specific emotion that I want an audience to feel. But it’s more like I want them to sort of see or glimpse a little bit of what I see in music. Even if they won’t fully be able to understand what I hear,” said Chiang.

In addition to playing the piano, Chiang has been exploring different ways to grow musically, such as conducting and creating compositions. She conveys that while playing the piano is more individualistic, conducting and creating compositions have helped her develop an understanding of how different instruments complement each other.

“I started conducting four years ago… It’s a lot different from playing the piano because with conducting, it introduces a whole other level of collaboration [between you and the orchestra members] that you have to account [for]… I [also] started composition a little bit… I’m working on a piano trio. I wrote my own solo repertoire stuff with piano, but I’m trying to add more instruments to the mix,” said Chiang.

Looking into the future, Chiang is still finding more ways to explore music in different kinds of communities across campus. She not only plans to perform a piano quintet as a chamber group with string players Kei Obata ’23, Andrew Zhou ’24, Karen Wang ’24, and Hanbie Park ’23, but also has made efforts to start a classical music club this year. Despite the challenges she has faced along the way, Chiang comments that her sentiments towards the piano remain clear in the face of uncertain futures.

“I’m still not sure whether or not I want to go into music or if I want to do something else, but I will definitely be keeping piano…[as] a major part of my life…whether it be playing in chamber groups or occasionally performing…because it’s been that way for a long time, and I really enjoy it,” said Chiang.