Five students from Yonsei Academy joined Guam’s annual Tumon Bay Music Festival this year. All five students came back with medals.
The Yonsei Academy performers were Yuan Hua (Whispering Palms School), Kate Ishida (Marianas High School), Nan Shane Xie (Marianas High School), Heechan Kim (Mount Carmel School), and Sharon Paek (Saipan Southern High School).
These students brought back three silver medals and two gold medals. The silver medalists were Heechan Kim, Nan Shane Xie, and Sharon Paek. The gold medalists were Kate Ishida and Yuan Hua.
Ishida played Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No. 4.
“Learning this piece nearly killed my fingers. There is so much technique involved,” she said.
This was Ishida’s fifth year of competing on the piano. “Every year things get more and more competitive. But it’s an amazing experience. I get to meet talented people and get to interact with a lot of them.”
Ishida was modest with her win, crediting her music teachers. “Winning a gold medal gets more challenging every year, and I only managed to get one because of all the support I received from my family and friends. And most importantly, a huge thank you to my teacher, Mrs. Yun. Our former piano teacher left the island just a few months ago, and Mrs. Yun came to the rescue. It was hard for everyone to adjust to such a big change, but here we are, more successful than ever. If anybody deserves a gold, it’s [Mrs. Yun].”
This was Hua’s first time to participate in the TBMF. “I was so excited. I practiced very hard at home. …Chopin was a romantic poet pianist and waltz is a dance full of turning and gliding. It’s an extremely entertaining dance for all. …My teacher, Mrs. Yun, told me to play my own music. I think and feel the music. When I play, sometimes I can see a girl dancing gracefully, sometimes I can see a man dancing proudly. I appreciated TBMF for giving me a stage to share my music.”
Paek said: “There are many amazing competitors each year, but this year was a lot more special because I got to attend the award ceremony and see the talents of older and younger students, or students my age. I will miss attending the Tumon Bay Music Festival after I graduate.”
Paek’s piece this year was Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No. 8.” It was a big jump from my piece last year, but I’m very thankful that I still pushed on and never gave up, thanks to my wonderful teacher, Mrs. Yun. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Mrs. Yun to get ready for a competition right after she came to Saipan. Fortunately, she never gave up on us.”
Yun came to Saipan in November 2016 to teach at Yonsei Academy. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Music Education in Korea, she moved to Germany and studied under Prof. Mathias Webe. She also participated in the Max Reger Tage Festival. After graduating with her master’s degree in 2008, Yun studied under Russian pianist Maraia Sukimanova, at J Brahms Konservatorium. She graduated with the highest award from the jury in 2011. After returning to Korea, Yun lectured at Hanbat National University Lifelong Education Center and is now conveying her knowledge to her students in Yonsei Academy.
“Although I had a lot of difficulties preparing for the Tumon Bay Music Festival as soon as I arrived, it was still a very special experience. It was a different atmosphere from the festivals from Korea and Germany, but it was very alluring to watch and hear the music of other students (especially students in Guam) other than the Yonsei Academy students. I will work hard for my students in Saipan to have various musical experiences in the future.”