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Musical sense

China-born pianist found music at an early age

China-born pianist found music at an early age

March 19, 2009|By KATE COLEMAN

Twenty-six-year-old pianist Chu-Fang Huang learned Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 as a child, but she's never played it with an orchestra.

She has soloed on Beethoven's other four piano concertos. Her performance of the third with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra this weekend will mark her "grand closure," she said in a recent telephone interview.

Huang's musical gifts arrived early. Because her parents both worked full time, Huang was home alone from the age of 3.

"Very illegal in the States," she said, "but it was common back then in China."

She already had learned to read and do math and was bored and making trouble when she started elementary school at 6 1/2, so a half-day school schedule was arranged.

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A teacher said she had shown talent in music class - the little girl had perfect pitch and always sang the loudest - and suggested she learn to play an instrument.

She chose piano because she had seen a beautiful grand piano on television. Her parents bought an upright, and Huang's musical journey began.

At 12, she received a full scholarship to the Shenyang Music Conservatory's pre-college division. In her second year, she played a master class with Fernando Laires and Nelita True, professors from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., who were visiting China for Shenyang's international music festival. Laires told Huang she should come and study in the United States, and he helped make it happen.

Huang made her American recital debut at 15. Her dad came to take care of her a year later when she began her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree. She received her Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and is in postgraduate studies at Juilliard.

"Chu-Fang Huang is a truly gifted pianist, and I know audiences will thrill to her performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto," said Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

Huang lives in New York City, but she's been there just four days this year because of her demanding touring schedule. She recently spent two weeks in China, performing as well as doing the work of Ameri/China International Music Foundation, which she founded.

"Its main purpose is to bring closer the two musical cultures of the two great nations, which I happen to know pretty well," Huang said. "We set up competition/auditions in four different cities so that talented kids from China can study in the West."

It's payback for the generosity of the people and schools who helped her, Huang said, and she hopes the next generation will continue the tradition.

"That's how we keep music alive."




If you go ...



WHAT: MasterWorks IV: Dawn of the Romantics, featuring works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Schumann

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 22

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: $22 to $49; $12 to $25 for ages 12 and younger and for full-time students.

CONTACT: Tickets are available online at www.marylandsymphony.org, by calling 301-797-4000, and at the MSO box office. Last-minute, "rush" tickets will be available for full-time students beginning 90 minutes before each performance for $5 cash.

MORE: Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze will talk about the program's music and composers one hour before each performance. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders. For information or to listen to selections from the weekend program, go to the MSO Web site.

EVEN MORE: The MSO is collecting and donating food to Food Resources Inc. and will reward donors.

oFrom 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday, March 20, drop items at MSO office at 30 W. Washington St., Hagerstown. For every 10 items donated, donors will receive one free concert ticket for this weekend's concerts.

oFrom 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, or from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 22, drop items at The Maryland Theatre. For every 10 items donated, donors will receive a voucher for 20 percent off the price of a ticket for MasterWorks V concerts, featuring Williams' "Star Wars" theme and Holst's "The Planets."

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