‘My father taught me to uphold people’s trust’

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The following interview is with pianist and teacher of the Mongolian State Conservatory G.Oyun-Erdene. She is the youngest daughter of songwriter and colonel L.Gavaasuren, and a teacher, music theorist, writer, and State Honored Artist D.Tsetserleg. Her eldest sister G.Erdenetungalag is a well-known singer, while her younger sister G.Oyuntungalag specializes in drama and directing.

After graduating as a pianist from the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, you started composing music. Do you feel like you have inherited your parents’ talent in music and creativity? What other traits did you get from them?

I think a lot of people around me have shaped me to become who I am today. As Mongolians say, children take after their parents. My parents are honest about everything. People who worked with them know this very well. Like my father, I tend to see the end of whatever I start to do. My father used to stay up all night, writing lyrics and doing his work under a table lamp. He’d go to work in the morning before I woke up. My father has taught me responsibility, honesty and integrity. He taught me that it’s more important to uphold people’s trust than a night’s rest. My eldest sister taught me to do things thoroughly but quickly from  from an early age.

Were there any advantageous to having two older sisters?

We taught each other many things. We used to do our housework every week. When I was younger, I actually felt like I was cleaning my sister’s house and tried to finish all the chores before going to bed. My sister used to nag at me, telling me to wash the dishes again. That’s when I started to do things thoroughly so that I wouldn’t have to do it again.

As a kid, I used to clean the classroom before lessons started. The teacher was very happy about that. He would praise, “Our Oyun-Erdene is sincere in everything she does.” Besides my family upbringing, I think my teacher helped me develop a lot of good qualities and abilities.

Why did you become a musician, a pianist at that? Was it your own decision to become a pianist or did your mother or sisters force it on you?

I don’t remember how I told my family that I wanted to major in piano. I only remember sitting for the entrance exam. Of course, my mother, father, and family influenced my decision. My mother, in particular, wanted at least her one daughters to get professional music education. But even as a child, I loved music and art. As I grew up, I fell in love with my profession. There is nothing I can do better than play the piano.

You work with other artists while teaching. Do you enjoy playing solo or with others and why?

-I like both. It’s even more fun to play with other people because it develops creativity. We don’t have many people who watch solo performances, and we don’t have such an atmosphere in the society, so I am working with other musicians and artists to organize concerts and attract listeners and increase their desire to listen to classical music.

I heard that you also sing well. Did you sing at your family’s concert or just play the piano?

My family held a concert in 2018. It was organized on the occasion of International Family Day. I came from Moscow and sang cappella and played music with my sisters. I also performed old Russian songs with my mother, and played the piano with one of my sisters. ,y father recited a poem while I provided piano accompaniment. Well-known artists performed popular songs made by my parents, and my two sisters sang marvelously.

You run your own podcast as well as the “Music Room” on clubhouse. I noticed that you also do humanitarian work. What do you hope to achieve through these activities?

The two years since the outbreak of COVID-19 have been fruitful for me. I came up with many new ideas. I launched the Classica MGL podcast to provide information about the history of world best artists and useful tips to students of vocational schools. However, now it’s not just musicians listening to my podcast but also people with other professions and music enthusiasts. As a musician, I’m not good at speaking out and expressing myself although I wish to be with others, so I decided to learn to speak face to face and work on my weaknesses.

There is also a lack of professional journalists who can talk more deeply with artists. For these reasons, I started doing interviews on the podcast. Our podcast team is gaining experience based on people’s suggestions and requests, and we are gradually improving. It used to be held only among classical music communities, but the “Music Room” on clubhouse includes all kinds of artists. Through it, the “Music Room” has the advantage of promoting and introducing professional artists, giving Mongolians living and working abroad the opportunity to listen to live performances, and giving artists the chance to directly interact with the audience. It’s also a very energetic environment. When people of different professions come together in one “room”, they get to meet new people, create new circles, and gain new creative ideas and energy.

There is another topic that we can’t skip. You demonstrated with other teachers at your school last summer for many days to protect the Mongolian State Conservatory. Can you talk about this?

My parents have never turned a blind eye on injustice. I have always fought against it as well. Many people talk about injustices in the society. Even while living abroad, I used to hear about thieves and swindlers, and various injustices in Mongolia. I was really upset and angry for a long time when I found out that injustice existed at my workplace, especially in the school that I used to go to. When fences of the Mongolian State Conservatory were put up around the school ground and a building was being built, the teachers fought against it, no longer able to endure such injustice.

Throughout July, I worked only to protect my school. Teachers and graduates also demonstrated without sleeping, eating, or meeting their families. As a result, the construction of the new building was stopped.

Your students have successfully participated in international e-competitions. Can tell us about some of the achievements of your students?

My student B.Guen won first prize at the Mozart and International Youth Music Competition. E.Enguun won second place at the Great Master International Piano Competition named after the famous pianist V. Khorovats. I am so proud of them.

My professional teacher Ch.Tungalag gave me an understanding about teaching. I graduated from the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, Russia under the guidance of Honored Cultural Worker of Russia TN Tarnovskaya. My teachers taught me a wide range of skills, including concertmaster skills and various teaching methods. I am always grateful to pianist B.Solongo and State Honored Artist U.Tsetsegmaa, who taught the piano.

Conductor B.Lhagvasuren gave a basic understanding about minority music. I am grateful to my teachers for developing me in many things by giving me a general knowledge of music and the psychology of a musician. I’d like to thank all of my teachers.

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