We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeffery Ou and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeffery, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I think one of the great fortunes of being a musician is that we are doing what we love while we work, that we are not strapped down in the sense that a 9-5 job might do. Because music is such an integral part of my being and is my life, there is always an endless extent to which I want to discover – repertoire, all eras of it, all possibilities of programming for a recital, etc., as well as music that isn’t frequently performed. At the same time I am also a very adventurous and curious human being. I love to travel, love to discover new cuisines and attractions and just to be exploring the world in general. I always try to keep the two endeavors – music and time spent away from music – as productive and yet as balanced possible, because as with anything in life, over-exertion or exposure is never healthy. Now, as far as actually remembering to do any of that, I am sure if I didn’t have my planner to scribble in on a daily basis I would probably die.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Nowadays I give concerts around the DFW metroplex and beyond, and do selective/limited teaching on the side as well as coach performances sent to me by other pianists via written/recorded critiques. I hope to soon become involved in adjudicating for regional competitions, as I was heavily involved in those events as a teenager. I am also currently working towards a Performance Certificate from the University of Texas at Arlington, going back to school 5 years after getting my Bachelors and Masters from University of North Texas. In all that I am involved with in music I hope to accomplish one primary objective, to do as Sviatoslav Richter once said: “to allow the listener to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in (the performer). He shouldn’t dominate the music, but should dissolve into it.” This is what I hope to do when I am performing music – not to dominate, but to dissolve. I suppose that keeps one busy in the long term – to be in a state of constant reflection through their art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Catfish House…..so good! Also probably one of the many parks around town. We are fortunate in that there are a great variety of spots in Carrollton/Lewisville to sample.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Absolutely. I am immensely grateful and indebted to all my teachers who’ve nurtured, equipped, empowered and yes – even broken – me all throughout my years of development. They’ve walked with me on my journey since the moment I first met a piano and I owe everything I know about music (albeit still ever-growing) to their devotion. I dedicate this article to Wells Yi Wu, Baya Kakouberi, Dr. Steven Harlos, Gustavo Romero and Dr. John Solomons – each of whom have had a profound influence on me not just as a pianist but most of all as a human being. I am incredibly fortunate to have studied with a generation of teachers from the “great golden age” who represent a tradition that is today much more rarely embraced. In addition, I very recently discovered my artistic lineage traces directly to individuals including Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt. It is a legacy that I feel uniquely privileged to pass on.