Do Re Mi Music School students win anew in TBMF


The Do Re Mi Music School Stringstars kept their winning tradition in the 2016 Tumon Bay Music Festival for the 10th straight year. The Stringstars’ quintet won gold in the Ensemble category of last week’s annual event that gathers the best musical talent in the region.

Kate Ishida, Judy Kim, Kevin Liang, Justine Xu, and Alan Yu are the members of the Stringstars—considered as the Team A of Do Re Mi instructor and president Ao Zhang, who is a former member of the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra. Xu is the only one based in Guam among the five members.

Kim, Liang, and Yu also competed last year in the Solo category along with Alexander Chen and Jane Torres, who is now studying in the U.S. Kim and Liang won gold, while the rest brought home silvers.

Csárdás by Italian modern/contemporary composer and conductor Vittorio Monti was the Stringstars’ winning piece for this year. Monti’s piece is played with a piano accompaniment with pianist Miri Kim joining the group in Guam.

The five painstakingly endured more than two months of practicing Monti’s piece first individually and as a group in the final weeks before the competition. Their hard work paid off as all three judges gave them scores worthy of the gold.

Zhang said that Xu, a fifth grader at St. John’s School, sometimes had to fly to Saipan three times a week either for a one-on-one session or to practice with the group. The four also did the same, flying to Guam just to rehearse with Xu.

“Xu learned the piece in Guam and she sometimes fly here to practice with us. I also taught the four individually then as a group. We also had some rehearsals in Guam and practiced again as a group almost a week before the competition,” said Zhang, who added that last year they encountered problems with their flight.

“This time we had no problems with our flight. We decided to go to Guam early for our final rehearsals and also to avoid the same problem that we had last year when our flight first got delayed and then got totally cancelled,” said Zhang.

In 2015, Zhang with Kim, Liang, Yu, Chen, and Torres had to book another flight via Korea to Guam where they arrived on the same day of the competition.

Ishida, an eighth grader at Saipan Community School who also performed solo in piano in the TBMF’s 12th staging, said Zhang’s strict approach every practice paid off big for the quintet.

“If it wasn’t for him [Zhang] we would have not won the gold medal,” said Ishida.

“He [Zhang] is very strict,” added Liang, who is now in sixth grade at Saipan International School.

“Yes, I’m very strict when we practice. I want everybody to work hard but later they would know why I’m strict with them,” said Zhang, a graduate of the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, considered to be the Julliard School of China.

Ishida first started learning and playing the piano after seeing her sister as a member of the Saipan Southern High School’s Manta Ray Band. “I wanted to be like my sister. Then I decided to shift to violin when I was 10 years old since I love to learn new instruments.” she added.

Kim, a Mt. Carmel School sophomore, said they had to learn how to manage their time with their studies and practice schedule.

Yu, a Marianas High School freshman who started learning how to play the violin when he was 8 years old, said that he plans to pursue a degree in music when he goes to college.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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