“I am 16 years old and live in New York, USA. My favorite color is inky purple - it is an incredibly regal color and is also the representative color of my favorite K-pop band, BTS. One of my favorite foods is roti prata; my parents were from Singapore/Malaysia and it is a familiar comfort food to me. In addition to being a violinist, I am also a writer, with my works published in books and magazines, and am highly enthusiastic about astronomy and astrophysics!
I have many favorite composers, so it is hard to pick just one! Of course, I enjoy all the periods of classical music, but I do have a preference for Romantic composers. I am working on the Sibelius violin concerto and am really drawn to the temperamental, wintery, and fierce nature of the piece. I would say Sibelius is my current favorite composer…though it might change in the future!
I do not come from a musical family, but my parents and grandparents all really enjoy music in all its forms. I have played the violin for more than ten years now—in addition to piano—and currently study at the private studio of Professor Li Lin at the Juilliard School. Professor Li Lin has been a great guiding force in my violin career; the amount of dedication and care he gives to his craft is wonderful to experience firsthand. He offers me much advice in improving my playing to greater heights, and I am grateful to him. My other very influential teachers are Dr. William McNally and Mr. Alexey Koltakov, both who taught me piano. They were the first teachers who encouraged and fully supported me on my music journey, and are simply amazing people all around. I would also like to give a shout-out to my mom; she has been with me every step of the way since the beginning, and has put in so much time and effort into supporting and helping me achieve my dreams! I am eternally thankful to her.
On weekdays, I get up at around 6:00 or 6:30 AM to practice violin before school, which starts at around 9:00 AM. I arrive home at 4:30 PM and spend the rest of my time doing homework. Once a week after school on Wednesdays, I do community outreach to my alma mater, volunteering in the school orchestra to assist the orchestra teacher with the students. I am currently writing a science research paper for publication on the green valley theory of galaxy evolution, and organizing astronomy outreach events to schools and organizations, so those take up a large chunk of my day as well. A favorite pastime of mine is reading and writing fantasy and poetry. On Saturdays, I commute to NYC—which is about an hour and a half to two hours away from where I live in Long Island, so it is a bit of a long drive—to take violin lessons and/or rehearse with my pianist. During Sundays, I work in a planetarium as an assistant educator, where I deliver programs and presentations to the public and do educational astronomy activities with children and their families. I find there is a really strong connection with astrophysics and music; both require deep exploration and refinement, and there is so much beauty to be found in each field, which is why I am so drawn to these areas.
I practice every day for around two hours before school. Unfortunately, homework takes up a lot of my time in the evenings, so I try my best to play as much as I can in the morning. Homework—especially since I am in my junior year of high school—is a big load, and my astronomy projects are also very important to me, so every day is a bit like a juggling act. In a perfect world, I would love to spend as much time as I can on music, but sometimes if my workload is heavier on another end, I will have to trim off some time from my other activities to accommodate what I need to do. Conversely, I also can put more hours into practicing if I have more free time. My favorite part of being a musician is definitely being able to deliver the genuine beauty of each piece of music after long hours of hard work—it is so amazing to be able to express the inner depths of emotion—and share it with the audience.
Each music competition from WOMCF I have entered is so different, and I am appreciative of all the feedback and advice from the judges. Most recently, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful experience performing on the Island of Procida, Italy, for the Mimas Festival as a competition first prize winner. These competitions have given me amazing opportunities to perform in renowned concert halls, such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and I learned so much each time I perform onstage. These experiences are one-of-a-kind, and I am grateful to have known what it is like to participate in so many different ways and places.
Competitions are not a determining factor of how good you are as a player, but they are excellent learning grounds for improving your skills and getting to experience the joys of being connected in the wider music world. I would focus on delivering your music in an authentic and joyful way—the care for your craft will always shine through. No matter how hard or thorny the path might be right now, if you keep your love and dedication to your craft alive, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.”