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Young artist: Christopher Yeong, 13, rehearses for symphony concert

April 04, 2001|By ANTHONY LONGORIA, Staff Writer

When talking to Christopher Yeong, one's first impression is he's a shy, quiet 13-year-old with few words to offer.

Yet on stage he speaks volumes as his fingers move briskly over their ivory notes.

Christopher was amazingly calm and focused through his rehearsal with the Imperial Valley Symphony on Tuesday night, breezing through Haydn's "Piano Concerto in D."

Technically proficient at the piano, his artistry will grow as he matures; a promising hint of that growth was heard during a few passages of his piece.

Christopher, of Brawley, is this year's winner of the Imperial Valley Symphony Association's 26th annual Young Artist Competition — the youngest to win the honor.


As part of his winnings, Christopher will receive a $500 award and is featured in the Imperial Valley Symphony's Young Artist concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Southwest Performing Arts Theatre in El Centro.

"It feels like an amazement," Christopher said of his win.

To win the honor, Christopher competed alongside several other young local musicians in January.

The win came as a surprise to both Christopher and his teacher, Ethel Lange, as both thought the competition was tough.

"I never thought I'd be here until at least (age) 18 or 19," said Christopher.

"He's prepared for a long time for this," said Christopher's father, Joseph Yeong, who sat in the audience, his face beaming with pride during rehearsal and accompanied by his video camera to archive the event.

Said Joseph Yeong: "Christopher is always asking me ‘Are you proud of me?' and I say ‘Of course I am!'"

Preparations for the competition and concert started six months ago when Christopher began work on Haydn's "Piano Concerto in D," a piece he called the most difficult he's played.

Christopher was introduced to the piano seven years ago after his father encouraged him to learn to play an instrument.

"I tried the piano and got interested in it," recalled Christopher.

During his first few years of study, Christopher practiced on his church's piano until his family purchased one for their home.

In preparation for Thursday's concert, Christopher said he's been practicing every day, although he said it's difficult to find time to practice between homework and school.

He is in the eighth grade at Barbara Worth Junior High School in Brawley.

In spite of his win, Christopher said a career in music isn't in his future. He wants to be an architect or computer analyst, although he said he'll always play the piano as a hobby.

"Just to play and have fun, that's why I like to play the piano," he said.

This summer he plans to attend either Arrowbear Music Camp or Idyllwild Music Camp, using the money he won from the competition to attend.

The Imperial Valley Symphony will accompany Christopher on his solo piece, "Haydn's Piano Concerto in D." The program will feature the symphony performing Rossini's "La Gaza Ladra Overture" as well as Bizet's "Carmen Suites Nos. 1 & 2."

The concert is free and will include a music appreciation talk within the concert by conductor Joel Jacklich.

Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452.

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