Di Xiao

AdvPGDip Music (Piano)

The best thing about studying at the Conservatoire is having access to the people and the facilities; everyone tries their best to help and the resources are excellent. I am really grateful for the wonderful tuition and support from both of my tutors, who went beyond education into the realms of mentorship.

What I value the most is the connection between the Conservatoire and Birmingham’s two amazing concert halls: Town Hall and Symphony Hall. There are so many music events and you can see performances by the world's top class artists only five minutes' walk from the Conservatoire.

Additionally, the Conservatoire's 'Symphony Hall Prize' offers the winner the opportunity to give recital in this gorgeous hall. I gave my debut there in 2006 and have now played there four times! It is still one of my dream venues.

I think the best thing about Birmingham is its size: two beautiful concert halls, a museum, a number of art galleries, the biggest shopping mall in Europe, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Central Library, theatres, cinemas, China town (very important to me!) - all within walking distance. It's really convenient; the only difficulty is deciding at which venue you are going to spend your night!

During the 2008/09 season I was selected as the UK's representative to the European Concert Halls Organisation (ECHO) Rising Star series of concerts. I gave concerts in 11 major halls including Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Vienna's Konzerthaus, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Salzburg's Mozarteum and Birmingham's Town Hall - its name may not be as glamorous as some of the others but I can assure you it is one of the best! Recordings from these live performances were played by radio stations across Europe.

In addition, I have played for some of the major music festivals including those in Buxton and Leamington and for the Bremen Musikfest. Apart from my solo career, I enjoy playing chamber music and recently gave a concert with Julian Lloyd Webber and his wife in London. I released my first CD in 2008 (recorded in Symphony Hall), which has received some quality airplay including on BBC Radio3.

While at the Conservatoire, I won its Piano Prize, Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Prize and Symphony Hall Prize. Since graduating, I have won first prize in the 28th Brant International Piano Competition (2007) and a Silver Medal from The Worshipful Company of Musicians of London (2008). To new students, I would say: Never give up your dream and the freedom to pursue your happiness. No doubt the conservatoire gave me a very good foundation. It prepared me for my first European tour and gave me the tools I needed to develop myself as a concert pianist.

More information on Di Xiao's website