Yonsei students win 8 medals at Guam festival

Yonsei Academy students are joined by Ji Hye Yun, a director of Yonsei Academy, as they pose with the medals they earned at the Tumon Bay Music Festival. (Contributed Photo)

Kate Ishida, a music student of the Yonsei Academy on Saipan, received a perfect score from every judge at the ongoing Tumon Bay Music Festival in Guam. That feat earned her a gold medal.

The academy’s other students—Heechan Kim, Grace Zhang, Joseph Zhang, and Nancy Han—also received gold medals.

Students of the Yonsei Academy competed at the music festival on March 3, 2018.

The festival itself is from March 1 to 10, 2018. There will be an encore concert on March 10, together with the awards ceremony.

The academy sent a five-person delegation to the music festival last year; all five returned with three silver and two gold medals. Ishida won a gold medal last year. She has been competing at the festival for six years now.

This year, Ishida, a 16-year-old sophomore at Marianas High School, played the prelude to Claude Debussy’s Pour le Piano on the piano.

“Every year is as exciting as the last. I get to meet new people, reunite with the friends I made in the previous years, and I always learn something new with each performance.

“I have grown so much as a musician from the first time I competed at [the Tumon Bay Music Festival] when I was 11 years old to now. [The festival] has helped me get out of my comfort zone and [meet] every challenge and opportunity out there.

“I am thankful to my teacher for pushing me to be the best pianist I can be, and for my family and friends for always supporting me,” she said.

This was Grace Zhang’s first time to compete at the Tumon Bay Music Festival. She played the piano piece Pathetique.

“Leaning this piece nearly broke my wrist. I couldn’t believe it when they announced my win,” she said. “I am so thankful to God. …I am also very, very grateful to my teacher.

Grace Zhang said that without her teacher, she wouldn’t have been able to win. “Mrs. Yun brought me to a whole new world of music; she is the best piano teacher anyone can ever have. After this year’s competition, I am inspired to play piano more.”

This was also her brother’s first time to compete at the Tumon Bay Music Festival. Joseph Zhang plays the violin.

“I was stunned to hear my win,” Joseph Zhang said.

He gave thanks to God, Mrs. Yun, his violin teacher, and his parents. “Without [Mrs. Yun’s help] I wouldn’t have won. She also gave me the motivation to practice my violin more. I also would like to thank my violin teacher, Mrs. Lim, for teaching me. Lastly, I would also like to thank my parents and everyone who supported me.”

Kim, a senior at Mount Carmel School, is no stranger to the Guam music festival. This was his third time competing at the festival. He got a silver medal in 2016 and 2017, but this year, he won a gold medal, playing Lizst’s Nocturne No. 3 Liebestraum.

“My piece, Liebestraum, also called Love Dream, is a serene, melodious piece. It was such a joy to perform this piece before a large crowd. All my effort was so meaningful. It was an unforgettable moment when I received applause! Finishing my senior year with a gold medal was wonderful,” Kim said.

Another gold medalist, Han, goes to school at Agape Christian School, and it has only been five months since she started learning at Yonsei Academy. It was also her first time to compete at the Tumon Bay Music Festival. Her parents live in China and she is currently staying at the school’s dormitory.

The school’s other students—Sua Kim, Cindy Kim, and Judy Simeng—all received silver medals. It was Sua Kim’s and Simeng’s first competition but they say it was fun and a very good experience.

Although Cindy Kim is just 15 years old, she first competed at the Tumon Bay Music Festival when she was just 11 years old. She says it was still just as nerve-wracking as the first time, but it was very memorable and she learned many new things.

Ji Hye Yun, a director of Yonsei Academy, said that, for many of the students, this was their first time to compete at the festival “but they practiced very well and could enjoy their time while we were there. It was a very memorable experience for both me and the students, but the scores that the judges gave us made it even more memorable. I am very proud of each and every one of my students.”

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