Yonsei Academy students win 8 gold, 5 silver at Tumon Bay Music Festival

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CLASSICAL musicians from Yonsei Academy on Saipan won eight gold and five silver medals in the recent Tumon Bay Music Festival on Guam.

Jihye Yun, Yonsei Academy president, said 13 of her students joined this year’s completion.

Those who received the gold medal were Kate Ishida, a senior student of Marianas High School; Grace Li Zhang, 17, MHS; Steven Chen, 16, Saipan International School; Eric Lai, 14, Grace Christian Academy; Ruby Zhang 16, Agape Christian School; Cherry Liu, 15, ACS; Abbie Kim 11, Saipan Community School; and Grace Kim, 15, MHS.

The silver medalists were Tina Zhen, 15, MHS; Seiyul Hong, SIS; Olivia Hwang, 14, SCS; Nancy Han, 17, ACS; and Jennifer Hart, 9, Brilliant Star School.

Yun said her students won in their respective solo piano competitions.

Ishida, who has been competing at the Tumon Bay Music Festival since fifth grade said it was sad going up on the stage for the last time.

“When I first joined TBMF, I was not a good player compared to other kids my age. But looking back, I realized that I grew so much as a musician every time I came back from the festival,” she said.

Over the years, she added, she grew close to some of the most important people in the music community on Guam.

“I became involved with a lot of musical events there,” Ishida said, adding that she participated in the Young Artists Competition and played in the pit orchestra in the Guam production of “Les Misérables.”

Yonsei Academy students pose for a photo after winning 8 gold and 5 silver medals at the Tumon Bay Music Festival. With them is their teacher and president Jihye Yun.

She also joined the Young Artists group in performing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

“The music community is very small on Saipan so I would not be where I am right now if it wasn’t for TBMF,” she added.

Zhang said it was a great experience for her to compete at the TBMF as a graduating student.

“Performing music is a very joyful thing to do. I enjoyed the couple of minutes I had. Although this year we all faced an obstacle: we had to play on a digital or electronic piano,” she said.

In the competition, she played Felix Mendelssohn’s “Fantasia in F-sharp minor, Opus 28” which was selected by her teacher.

“She helped me realize that learning piano might not always be torture, in fact it could be quite fun,” Zhang said, adding that her teacher uses a very interesting way to explain music by giving real life examples to the melodies.

Yun said this year, of her 13 students participating in the Tumon festival, nine were first timers in the competition.

Steven Chen, who was among those who competed for the first time, received a gold medal. He said the competition was very challenging and hard, “but I’ve definitely learned and improved a lot. I am grateful to the festival for giving me a chance to challenge myself, and I am grateful to our teacher for her care and help in this competition.”

Yonsei Academy of Saipan students at the Tumon Bay Music Festival.  Contributed photos

He is also grateful to his parents for their encouragement and support.

“I hope I’ll further improve my piano skills in the future, and strive to reach a higher level,” he said.

Jennifer Hart, who is the youngest competitor from Yonsei Academy, said: “Before the competition day, I injured my finger while doing P.E at school. So I could not practice for 10 days. I felt nervous and worried.”

After the piano competition, she said she felt proud. “But I also felt sad…at the same time. I wanted to get the gold medal but since my finger was injured and could not practice before the competition, I felt like I did not do as well as I could have, had I been able to practice more. I was still happy to get the silver medal. It was my first time to join this piano competition, and I am glad that I got this opportunity,” she added.

Yun said the Yonsei Academy performers were outstanding at this year’s festival.

She wants to see more academy students participate in next year’s event.

The best way to be good at playing the piano is to practice regularly, she added. “Hard work beats talent every time,” said Yun who obtained her degree in Hamburg, Germany.

“I’ve been running Yonsei Academy for four years here on Saipan, and I am continued to be inspired by many students with musical purity, and I am eagerly waiting to meet more students with musical interests,” she said.

For more information, call Yonsei Academy at 789-8163.

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