7 October 2015

Piano concert by Gerard Willems

At the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Sydney on Saturday 17th October 2015 took place a unique piano concert performed by the eminent pianist Gerard Willems and his two talented young students Celine Kang and Michelle Li.

The concert program included among others the works of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.


Gerard Willems AM


Gerard Willems is one of Australia’s finest concert pianists and leading Beethoven scholars.   As a child in Tilburg, Holland, Gerard Willems toured Europe as a chorister and was awarded a professional scholarship for piano from the Brabant’s Conservatorium. With his family, he migrated to Australia in 1958 where he entered the Sydney Conservatorium and graduated with High Distinction. After winning many prizes at national competitions, he pursued advanced keyboard studies in Munich. He settled in Amsterdam for several years and he made his debut in London in 1974, in Munich in 1977 and in Amsterdam in 1978 and returned to live in Sydney in 1981. Subsequently he has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand and in December 2000 completed a tour of Israel. In 1981 he joined the staff of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he was Chair of Keyboard and is now Professor in Piano. 


Gerard Willems is the first Australian and Dutch pianist to record the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle on CD. These recordings have been awarded the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Award). In 2013 the Beethoven-Willems Collection has been presented, the culmination of fifteen years research and performance consisting of fourteen CD’s and one DVD of the “Emperor” Concerto which won the World Music DVD prize in New York. In 2015 his double CD edition of Grieg, “Morning Mood” was launched at the Sydney Opera House.


Gerard Willems has performed with all the major orchestras like the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Australis. He has appeared at the Sydney and Adelaide festivals, with ensembles such as the Australia Ensemble and Acacia Quartet. He has also performed with singers such as Luciano Pavarotti, Laures Elms, Ron Stevens, Jennifer McGregor, Beverly Bergen, the cellists Julian Lloyd Webber and John Kennedy, violinists Karen Adam and Ronald Thomas, violist Esther van Stralen and collaborated in 2013 with Russian violinist Evgeny Sorkin. Gerard also established his own piano trio Mozartrois.


In 2003 Gerard Willems was awarded a Centenary Medal for Services to Music and in 2012 an AM award for his services to the arts as a concert pianist, educator and mentor to young musicians. In 2012 he was appointed as Artistic Director of the Southern Highlands International Piano Competition.


Celine Kang


Celine Kang, a young talented 15 year old pianist, began to learn to play the piano at the age of eight. She first was taught by her mother and then later, at the age of eleven, she began her musical dream with the help of Gerard Willems. Since then, she won many awards and broke records in competitions and eisteddfods, such as The Sydney Eisteddfod and The Australian National Eisteddfod. She also passed her AmusA and LmusA with a distinction at the age of thirteen and fourteen. Celine is currently in year 9 and is attending MLC school with a full music scholarship and she wishes to continue to journey through her musical career with her teacher and inspiration, Gerard Willems, to be a global concert pianist and a famous composer.


Michelle Li


Michelle Li began playing the piano at the young age of five. As a young child, she displayed substantial musical potential and quickly progressed in her learning. In 2009, Michelle joined the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Rising Stars Program and has been an active participant since then. She has represented the Rising Stars on numerous occasions, including performing several recitals at the St John’s Anglican Church. In 2013, Michelle was invited to perform at a public concert on behalf of the Vivid Sydney Festival and just last year, at age 13, she was awarded her Licentiate Diploma in piano performance. Michelle is currently a full music scholarship holder at SCECGS Redlands and she continues to be passionate about music and piano performance.

© 2012 Ministry of Foreign Affairs