Ian is on key

MONTVILLE’S Ian Lucas has returned home after achieving his musical dream of performing in front of a packed auditorium at the prestigious Sydney International Piano Competition, last month.

The Sydney, as it is known, is described as one of the world’s greatest piano competitions, with the professional section open to 32 of the world’s elite young professional pianists (18 to 32).

In conjunction with the professional section, the event holds the Sydney Piano Lovers Competition, which is for amateur pianists over 30.

Ian, who is 65, has twice won the event. He was named joint winner at the inaugural Australians-only event in late-2020, but due to the pandemic he was unable at that time to perform live at Sydney.

His second win in 2022 was even more significant as the event had been widened for the first time to also allow entries from pianists from New Zealand.

Ian was subsequentially surprised and honoured to be invited to present the opening recital at The Sydney by the event’s artistic director Piers Lane AO, possibly Australia’s most well-known classical musician.

“This invitation was very special, and I practiced extra hard so not to let him or the competition down,” Ian explained.

“For those who understand the importance of ‘The Sydney’ for professional world-class pianists, it’s an unexpected honour to be included amongst the elite players, and to be able to meet, socialise with them and play for the judges and the audience.

“It’s lovely, I’m 65 years old, it’s nice in some small way to be associated with one of the great piano competitions. It’s a lovely thing.”

As a child, Ian was taught piano by his mother, his most patient teacher; however, in his late teens his life took a different path and he embarked on a career as an airline pilot. He calls this time in his life as “the closed lid years”.

It was 32 years later, having retired from flying and with encouragement from his wife Lee, that he again sat at the piano and began to play.

“It wasn’t until after I turned 50 and my wife Lee said, ‘You should get a piano and return to music’,” Ian explained.

“So, I slowly began to regain my piano technique, it was quite a slow and painful process, returning to the piano made everything hurt.

“The skills didn’t return overnight, believe me, it took quite a few years to learn to again play as close to as I had in my youth.”

Thankfully, Ian’s talent and skills have prevailed, and he is today reaping the rewards of his new-found dedication.