Young musician Chang Tao, a graduate of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, returned to home soil to quietly celebrate his biggest achievement. The pianist, who is studying music at the University of Kansas in the United States, won first prize in the third J. N. Hummel International Piano Competition, held in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. For Chang it was a special honour. He was the first Asian to win the prize. Named after the composer and virtuoso pianist Johann Nepomuk Hummel, a contemporary of Beethoven born in Bratislava in 1778, the competition has prizes of US$3,000 (HK$23,200) and concert engagements in a string of European cities. The venues include Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow and Bratislava. The pianist flew to Hong Kong soon after the competition, to catch his breath before he returned to university, where he is in the final year of his Master's degree in piano performance. He is also working on a repertoire for his tour next year. Chang said the win had come as a real surprise. He had entered purely for the experience, he said, at the suggestion of his teacher, concert pianist Sequeira Costa. He said he had resolved to 'lean back and enjoy the music', a factor that may have helped him win. Chang said the real test lay ahead, when he set out to prove to some of the most musically sophisticated audiences in Europe that he deserved to win the prize. He would also like to leave some kind of Asian imprint on his concerts next year. He recently found a piano transcription of an ancient Chinese song, Reflecting Moonlight on a Lake, which would do well as an encore, he said - 'if they want one'. A pupil of Gabriel Kwok, head of the Academy of Performing Arts' keyboard department, Chang graduated with distinction in 1992, with an Advanced Diploma in Piano Performance. As a student at the academy, he won several piano competitions and gave regular solo recitals, as well as performing with its symphony orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Earlier this year he was a winner at the University of Kansas concerto competition.