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Creativity Under Constraint: Ipoh Boy Debuts Two Consecutive Albums 

By Mei Kuan

Keith Tan Jian Li

Keeping creativity flowing during the global pandemic, 20-year-old Keith Tan Jian Li recently debuted two consecutive albums featuring solo piano pieces in the span of just two months. The said albums are “Strings of Fate” which was released in February followed by “Wander” in April. 

Marking his composition debut, it has recorded 35000 streams from 35 countries on Spotify while 500 physical copies of the albums have been sold across Malaysia to date.

Kicking off his piano-learning journey at the age of 6, the Ipoh boy later found true joy at playing the instrument when he discovered The Piano Guys at 12, citing the American powerhouse musical group as his first inspiration. 

A shining example of an all-rounder through secondary school, he had represented Perak in national-level chess tournaments in addition to excelling academically. Now a first-year medical student of Monash University about to embark on his second year, he shared how he juggles it all, “I can do so much as everything is online since MCO. For instance, I get to watch recorded lectures at my own pace and speed. Plus, it does not take long for me to compose a tune as I spend around 10 minutes per piece. I did all of the recording at home, composing on a keyboard for better sound quality then editing on the computer.”

In these difficult times, the release of both albums brimming with soothing instrumentals could not be more timely. Did I mention that sheet music is available for the first album?

Earning a spot in the Sam Tet Symphony Orchestra, Sunway University Ensemble and at present the Monash Chamber Orchestra, the solo performance during his grandpa’s 60th wedding anniversary at a hotel in Ipoh remains his most memorable. 

Sheet music is available for “Strings of Fate”

When asked on the importance of music for the times we are living in, the amiable Keith explained, “Music serves a therapeutic purpose. It’s just nice to play especially when one is stressed as it really heals the mind.”

“The community playing classical music in Ipoh is quite small compared to Kuala Lumpur where competitions are held everywhere,” he observed, suggesting that more competitions in Ipoh will enable classical music to reach out to a wider audience here.

“My piano teacher, Patricia Liew, has taught me from grade 1 to diploma,” he added. As for composition, the South Korean composer cum pianist named Yiruma has continued to inspire him. Equally a fan of Japanese animation (anime), a pianist on YouTube called Animenz who does advanced piano arrangements of various anime songs is his favourite.

Getting to grade 5 on violin with piano being his forte, jazz is one music genre which he is pursuing next by perfecting his technique and structure of composition.

Find his public artist page on Spotify via following link: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6vOMKTRdffWhGbmm2uYhSQ

For more updates (and piano covers!), do check out his Instagram profile (@pianobun). To get hold of the physical albums and sheet music, readers can reach him at 0175500772 (WhatsApp only) or through email: kiffybun@gmail.com

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Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

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