Hong-Kong-born pianist and musicologist Po Sim Head presents two Latin American composers, the Peruvian Francisco Pulgar-Vidal as well as Ecuadorian Blanca Layana Gómez, and performs their rich works with great verve and precision on BETWEEN THE ANDES AND THE AMAZON. The selected pieces are imbued with their composers’ respective cultural heritage and eclectic style: blending influences of Peruvian folk music with atonality, Latin polyrhythms with European counterpoint, and musical forms such as the sonata with elements of local dance and song.

Today, Po Sim Head is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about her writing endeavors, and how a morning run provides her with a kickstart to her creative process…

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

If I were not a musician, I think I would be a writer, a lawyer, a painter, or a yoga instructor. I don’t paint and do yoga often enough these days. However, whenever I paint and do yoga, I focus and pay attention to the details as much as when I practice piano.

I also write for an online magazine. I like writing and enjoy the research process. Despite not being a musician, I think I’d make a good lawyer because I’d still want to make the world a better place.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

It would be great to collaborate with a cellist, hopefully, Jacqueline du Pré!  

What advice would you give to your younger self if given the chance?

I’d tell my younger self to pursue music more aggressively.

What emotions do you hope listeners will experience after hearing your work?

There are two composers on my album, one from Ecuador and one from Peru. Francisco Pulgar-Vidal was an influential composer in Peru, while Blanca Layana Gomez is a living Ecuadorian female composer known in her hometown. However, both of their works are rarely performed internationally.

After listening to the album, first and foremost, I hope they enjoy the variety of styles in their compositions. I hope they find something interesting enough to return to the album again. I also hope that this album can inspire listeners to listen to more works by lesser-known composers from South America.

How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?

Getting older has helped me grow as a musician. I look forward to my birthday because I feel every year I will progress as both a musician and an individual.

Where and when are you at your most creative?

Probably during my sleep or during/after a morning run. Running definitely helps me to be adventurous and take my creative ideas into practice.

  • Po Sim Head

    Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Po Sim Head is a pianist, educator, and musicologist who has a strong passion for discovering lesser-known piano repertoire from Latin America. Head received a doctorate degree in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Kansas under the instruction of Scott McBride Smith. Her thesis introduced a few piano compositions written by a Peruvian composer Francisco Pulgar-Vidal, some of which are included on her Navona Records release. Prior to her doctorate degree, Head received her master’s degrees in piano performance and musicology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and earned a bachelor’s degree in music composition and production at Hong Kong Baptist University.