Archive for Monday, July 2, 2007

Gathering of young pianists raises competition to lofty level

George Fu, 16, of Frederick, Md., competes in the International Institute for Young Musicians Summer Music Academy semifinals Sunday at the Lied Center. The finals of the competition are tonight, and the winners will give a concert next weekend.

George Fu, 16, of Frederick, Md., competes in the International Institute for Young Musicians Summer Music Academy semifinals Sunday at the Lied Center. The finals of the competition are tonight, and the winners will give a concert next weekend.

July 2, 2007

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Young Musicians International Piano Competition

George Fu, 16, of Frederick, Md., is talks about his 25-minute performance that he just finished in the semi-finals of the 2007 International Institute for Young Musicians International Piano Competition on Sunday at The Lied Center. Enlarge video

Dominic Cheli, of St. Charles, Mo., competes in the International Institute for Young Musicians Summer Music Academy semifinals at the Lied Center on Sunday.

Dominic Cheli, of St. Charles, Mo., competes in the International Institute for Young Musicians Summer Music Academy semifinals at the Lied Center on Sunday.

George Fu can trace his love of playing the piano to when he was 5.

He tried to sneak an electric one into his family's vehicle to start pounding the keyboard. Soon after, he was imitating songs he heard on television.

"That's when I started playing by ear," said the 16-year-old from Frederick, Md.

On Sunday at the Lied Center, the high school junior's progress in 11 years was evident as he played a 25-minute repertoire that included pieces by Bach and Beethoven.

Fu and 13 other semifinalists competed in an international piano competition organized by the International Institute for Young Musicians in collaboration with the Kansas University School of Fine Arts.

"You never have a perfect performance, but that's always something you can strive for," Fu said.

The young musicians represent the next generation of concert pianists, so organizers feel grateful to get them in one place, said Scott McBride Smith, the institute's president and CEO.

The competition is part of the institute's Summer Music Academy, where 100 pianists, ages 11 to 18, study at KU for most of the month.

"I can comfortably say this is among the highest-level competition in the world," said John McCarthy, director of preparatory and extension divisions at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Christine Kim, 15, of Palo Alto, Calif., remembers starting to play piano when she was also 5. She plans to pursue English as a potential major in college but is grateful for her musical experience growing up.

"I think it's really rewarding - performing and getting to learn new pieces, exploring different sounds," Kim said.

Dominic Cheli, 14, of St. Charles, Mo., can attest to practicing long hours to prepare for the competition. He sat down in front of a piano four to five hours a day to practice his repertoire, which included Bach, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

But seconds after he wrapped up his performance Sunday afternoon, the crowd's reaction made him realize why he loves to perform, he said.

"I have a lot of adrenaline going through me right now," Cheli said.

Playtimes

The piano competition finals, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Lied Center, are free and open to the public. The winners will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.; the cost is $12 for adults and $7 for students.

Comments

Ragingbear 8 years ago

Ok. This is not a critique of the article, or this gifted young man that has a true gift that I envy (Very little artistic talent). Now, that being said....

Didn't the Photographer notice that the picture of him at the piano looks like he is enjoying it a little TOO much?

I always think that newspaper photographers get interesting pics, but it's the editor responsibility to make sure that the pictures (because they probably took 100 or so) don't look goofy or weird.

franklincarolek 8 years ago

You obviously do not know George. This is no act. I know, because he came that way when he started lessons with me at the age of 6 years. His is a rare gift that is achieved by only a select few. What you see is real and sincere. It comes from his heart. Enjoy this amazing young talent.

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