Saipan Yonsei Academy’s Hans Xu competed in this year’s Guam Young Artists Competition at the University of Guam and placed first overall.
Xu, an 11-year-old pianist who studies at the Saipan Yonsei Academy, competed in this year’s Young Artist Competition and won first place overall (elementary, junior, and senior division). Xu’s winning piece was Scherzo E Minor Op 16 No. 2.
“This piece was very challenging because it required me to play very fast, which I was not used to. After learning the piece, I did find some parts I enjoy playing, such as the very powerful and strong middle and the light ending.
“This piece also required a skill which I did not have before, playing with an intense feeling but also keeping my entire body relaxed,” he said.
According to Saipan Yonsei Academy director Ji Hye Yun, Xu played calmly and passionately.
The Guam Symphony Society organized the Guam Young Artists Competition at the University of Guam. Held on Jan. 24, 2018, it is one of the highest level musical competitions in Guam. Many from Saipan and Guam competed this year.
The first round of competitions was held last Jan. 24 and the finals was held the following day, Jan. 25, for the top five students from each division (elementary, junior, and senior).
A winners’ concert was held last Feb. 11 at the St. John’s Chapel, which allowed only the top three winners overall to perform.
Yun said many people showed interest in the performance and the Guam broadcasting system was there to record the wonderful performance. The winners received a plaque, cash reward, and prizes
Xu said he is most thankful for his instructor and his parents.
“I want to thank my teacher, Mrs. Yun, for teaching me the piece, how to master it and how enjoy the music. I want to thank my parents for telling me that if I want to play well, I need to practice,” he said.
Xu was not expecting to win, especially since it was his first year competing. “To win on my first year was a huge surprise because I did not know what to expect from the judges, and I heard some of the other musicians who played were really good,” he said.
Xu hopes to one day be able to play a range of pieces from other classical composers.
“When I get older I would love to learn a wide variety of pieces such as Beethoven and Chopin. This year’s experience showed me how much time and practice it takes to master just one piece. Overall this was an amazing experience for me.”
According to Yun, Xu is very diligent, hard-working, possesses a good musical touch, and is very good at showing emotion through his playing.
“When I first met Hans…he had many bad habits while playing the piano. Fortunately, he tried his best to fix them and follow all my teachings. …Hans is very consistent and never had a relapse while playing and learning the piano, which makes me look forward to the future of his musical life. My lessons with Hans is always fun and worth looking forward to,” she said.
Kate Ishida also represented the CNMI in the competition through her violin. Ishida placed third in the senior division.