Pianist Wu Qian arrives at Chichester

Wu Qian – pianist in the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio – admits it was a huge culture shock at the age of 13 to leave Shanghai behind her for the UK.

In 1997, she began at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

“It was a shock in every single way that you could imagine,” says Qian, who brings the trio to Chichester for the latest in the Chichester Chamber Concerts series in the Assembly Rooms in North Street on Thursday, February 7 at 7.30pm.

“Now everything is so much more accessible. Everything is a lot easier. Back then there was only one other Chinese student there. I couldn’t speak much English, and everything was so difficult. Or the first three months were difficult. Really I think I adapted quite quickly.”

And it was there that she met her two colleagues in the trio – German-born Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) and Russian Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin).

“We met at the School when we were 12 or 13 or 14. We didn’t play as a trio. We were just studying, but we have known each other for half our lives! There was a project, but it didn’t really come off, but we were playing together and we found that we enjoyed playing together and so we continued. We thought ‘Why don’t we just carry on?’”

And so the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio was born, in around 2006-07. Its success ever since, she believes, comes down partly to the fact that each is a soloist in his or her own right.

“We do a lot of solo concerts outside of the trio and that makes it slightly different. I think the audience pick up on that. It is like three soloists who come together who have also been playing together for six years. I think you get the quality in the playing. Not being arrogant or anything, but I think the level of playing is bound to get higher when you are also playing solo concerts.”

First prize-winner of the International Commerzbank Chamber Music Award 2008 and recipients of the Nordmetall Chamber Music Award at the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival 2009, the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio has emerged as one of today’s outstanding trios.

As she says: “We have been very lucky. We have just tended to enter things and win them. We have been very fortunate!”

Fortunate too in their management. They have been picked up by the agents of the now defunct Florestan Trio, which in turn is creating opportunities.

“We are very honoured that their agents took us on once they had disbanded. That was like a very big confirmation for us.”

The trio recently performed at the Wigmore Hall’s Coffee Concert series and was immediately re-invited for an evening recital as well as another Coffee Concert. They have also been broadcast several times by BBC Radio 3 including on the In Tune programme and the lunchtime concerts series.

Significantly for Qian, last September they played a number of dates in China: “We played in four different cities, and for me it was very exciting because I had not been back there performing.”

Similar excitements are lined up for their 2013-14 season including a trip to Australia.

Their programme for Chichester will be: Mozart - Piano Trio in C K548; Brahms - Piano Trio No 3 in C minor Op 101; and Mendelssohn - Piano Trio No 2 in C minor Op 66. Tickets on 01243 781312.