A music school on Saipan handily won eight awards at the 2019 Tumon Bay Music Festival in Guam, with four awards going to students who competed for the first time at the festival.
Eight Yonsei Academy students brought home seven gold medals and one silver medal, including Hans Xu, Ruby Zhang, Jemima Lin, Jennifer Woo, Sua Kim, Judy Liang, and Kate Ishida. One student, according to a press release from the school, was unnamed.
The unnamed student won silver at the annual music competition, and is reportedly going back to South Korea.
Xu played Impromptu Op. 29 on the piano and is a 7th grade student at Grace Christian Academy.
“This piece was kind of hard for me because last year I practiced a piece with light finger with quick notes, but this year’s piece required connected notes, which was a rather hard transition for me,” he said. “I had to practice a lot so I could get used to all the connected notes and play better than before.”
First-time competitors Lin and Zhang expressed gratitude to their piano teacher Jihye Yun. She also taught Xu and the other students.
“I appreciate that I got gold for my first time to join the Tumon Bay Music Festival,” Lin said.
Woo, a 6th grader at Grace Christian Academy and also competing at the festival for the first time, said she is always nervous when doing contests and concerts. “I was nervous the entire time. I kept thinking that I might have been the worst [to perform],” she said. “But when it finished I realized that even if I made mistakes I can still do it! So, when it ended I was happy and proud of myself.”
Kim, a 7th grader at Mount Carmel School, also competed at the 2018 TBMF and got silver. For the 2019 competition, she was able to get a gold.
“I tried my best, because it would be my last time for the TBMF. By this experience, I improved my piano skills. I think I got the gold medal because of my teacher and my efforts,” she said.
Agape Christian Schools’ Judy Liang, a senior, also won gold.
Kate Ishida, the only competitor to compete in the violin division and got gold, had been playing the violin for seven years and had competed at the TBMF as a soloist three times.
“It was really interesting this year because I only got three lessons from my violin teacher before the competition since he lives in Guam now,” she said, adding that trouble brought by Super Typhoon Soudelor also affected her practice.
“I wanted to represent my island as the only solo violinist from Saipan and to show that we are resilient. I want to give a big thank you to my piano teacher and accompanist, Ms. Jihye Yun. She didn’t have to, but she helped me with this piece and guided me when I was stuck. I also want to thank my violin teacher, Mr. Ai Zhang, for teaching me all these years and giving me the skills to be able to compete,” she said.
“Yonsei Academy students have been winning competitions such as the Young Artists Competition and the TBMF consistently for two years,” a statement from the music school noted. “…Yonsei Academy is getting ready for their Annual Music Concert in May.”
For those interested in enjoying the student’s performances, you may watch them on www.youtube.com under the Yonsei Academy Saipan channel.