A young violinist put the CNMI on the map after winning at a recent international competition, gaining for himself an invitation to another prestigious contest next year.
Zhen Yu Su of Do Re Mi Music School successfully captured two awards at the 3rd Hong Kong International Violin Competition held in Sha Tin Town Hall from Jan. 28 to 31.
Established in 2011 by the Asia Musicians Association, the annual event showcases the talent and competence of young violinists from Hong Kong, mainland China, United States, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia.
The 16-year-old Su, who was making his debut in an international competition, bested dozens of other aspiring violin players after winning the Excellence Award in the Professional Division and the Performance Award in the Junior Division.
In the Professional Division, Su impressed the judges with his rendition of Handel's Sonata No. 4 in D Major, Pablo Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, Lalo's Concerto in D Minor, and the Chinese folksong Sunshine Over Tashkurgan. In the Junior Division, Su played Paganini's Caprice No. 5 and also Sunshine Over Tashkurgan.
In an interview yesterday, Su said he did not expect to win given the tough competition.
“I feel really good about winning. I feel like it's a big accomplishment because bringing home two awards is a big task. There was a lot of pressure but I just wanted to make my family and friends proud of what I will accomplish when I went there,” Su, who traveled to Hong Kong by himself, told Saipan Tribune.
Being surrounded by other remarkable violinists from all over the world, Su said, “I tried to keep my composure and not be nervous because being nervous before a competition is bad for you. I just tried to do my best.”
Su also made several new friends and was awestruck by Melody Chang, another winner in the Professional Division for Adults, whom he described as having “amazing tone quality.”
“I was speechless when she was done. Watching her perform was really exciting and it's really rare that you get to see a talent that great,” he said.
Su's teacher and trainer, Do Re Mi Music School president Ao Zhang, disclosed that Su actually did not have enough time to prepare for the competition because organizers were unable to send the invitation on time since they did not know where Saipan was.
“This competition is very difficult. It requires a lot of talent and very high technique. I contacted people from Hong Kong and they were all very impressed with him. He's really special. Now he has a good future and can be recognized internationally. I'm very proud of him,” said Zhang, who was also awarded an Honor-Teacher certificate for his work with Su.
Su's mom, Hong Chao Chen, had to email the organizers before they emailed her back on Dec. 25, giving her son only a little over a month to practice.
“I think it's a very rare experience and a very good opportunity for him to meet professionals and kids his age so he could see the level of his skills, learn from his fellow competitors and encourage him to study hard and pursue success,” said Chen.
Su impressed the judges so much that he was invited to join next year's Schoenfield International String Competition in Germany. He also revealed plans to participate in the 2014 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in Austin, Texas.
Although he is eager to join more contests, Su wants to focus this year on college applications so he could receive advanced music education.
Both Su and his mother expressed appreciation to Zhang and another Do Re Mi Music School teacher, Yi Wang, for teaching the young musician in the last decade.
“It's not just the techniques that they teach him but even personal character. Our family really appreciates the time and effort they put on him,” added Chen.