As with Nick Onie, someone introduced me to Desmond before uni started. I am thankful for Desmond's friendship over the years so here is my tribute to him!! :)
The first thing that automatically comes to mind when the name 'Desmond Tan' is mentioned is his exceptional ability with the piano. So much so that his musical prowess is often just taken as a matter of common knowledge. However, in my view, to take this fact as granted would be a major discredit to the hard work and practice that Desmond has put in over the years. An extraordinary sense of discipline would have been required to practice those drills and pieces on a daily basis, especially while juggling dreaded university exams and part-time work. It would, therefore, not come as a surprise to anyone that the fruits of his labour manifested in the form of him making the 2011 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards** (Keyboard Final) in tandem with my school friend, Nicholas Young. Although Desmond might play this achievement down, the fact that he made it that far is an amazing achievement, especially considering his other academic, work and family commitments at the time.
Additionally, I feel that this aspect of his life mirrors his character well in that he is a studious and persevering individual. For example, I seem to always recall him starting - and even nearly completing - our university assignments well before any of us had even started them LOL.
It is 2016 now. Although I'm aware that it may well be the case that Desmond no longer practises the piano as much as he would like to (given the transition into full-time work), I feel that this aspect of his life should be acknowledged and recognised. To attain such a high standard in musical performance is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly and speaks volumes of his character and dedication.
Given what I've said above, perhaps it should come as no surprise then that Desmond is one of the harshest critics of pop music. And certainly there's nothing wrong with (and in fact, good on him for) demanding higher standards from the music industry LOL. However, notwithstanding the above, I hold deep, deep reservations regarding his interest in that Icelandic artist Björk LOL. In fairness, I suppose it is always good to look for something different... and to try new things, a concept just as applicable to music genres as it is to life in general.
My other strong impression of Desmond is that he is a loyal friend and family member. He holds a genuine concern for his friends and is willing to hear them out. I have a distinct memory of him helping me out during a tough, dark time in October 2013 for which I am still thankful for. I also recall that he is a dutiful son to his parents, and is very respectful towards elders. Even if the going is tough, that will not put him down from performing his duties to his family and friends.
At the time of writing, it's been about 2+ years since I properly met up with Desmond. In many respects that is largely my fault, but that does not mean I think of him as any less a friend.
Thanks for everything over the years, and I look forward to our next eventual catch up Dezman Tan.
** I only found out somewhat recently that these Awards have been cancelled!! What a real shame - as I understand it, the Awards had been ongoing from about the 1940's up until 2015. Despite my lack of musical training, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Desmond and Nick Young performing at the 2011 Awards and I think it is a real loss of an opportunity to aspiring classical musicians in Australia.