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A little maestro amazes SZ music lovers
Latest Updated by 2004-07-20 09:47:57

The slim but magic fingers were flying on the keyboard - Rachel Cheung delivered two enthralling performances to Shenzhen music enthusiasts over the weekend. Her piano concerto in D minor went perfectly with the Junior Chamber Orchestra of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts at the Shenzhen Daily Readers' Concerts.

A strenuous journey

Masterful blend of technique, sense and sensibility, this is the very first impression of 12-year-old Cheung's concert playing.

Cheung's story, like those of many athletic and artistic prodigies, is typical of an entire generation of Chinese parents and their children, their high expectations and extreme sacrifices for a better life.

Cheung seems a natural pianist. She loves to listen to the music and seized every opportunity to be exposed to music. "Reading and listening to music are my hobbies. Classical music is my favorite and it is a great pity that I don't have time to play more musical instruments in addition to piano. My parents also love piano, so I chose to play the piano," said Cheung.

At the age of 4, she started piano lessons and was admitted to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) as a junior student studying under professor Eleannor Wong, artist-in-residence and senior lecturer of the academy. Since then she has begun a very strenuous and artistic journey with an average practicing time of six hours every day.

"I have general study lessons in the morning, practice the piano in the afternoon and in the evening I will do two of them according to my specific plan. Many people thought I would be too tired, however, I don't feel so. I am very happy playing the piano and I like it very much!" Cheung said.

"Rachel is not so talkative and she only has a few friends who also play the piano. She is totally concentrated on piano. She is so exceptional because she not just works very hard but also thinks very deeply when she plays the piano. So Rachel has a very good musical understanding in addition to playing skills. I think she will rival those adult masters!" said Benedict Cruft, dean of the Music Department at HKAPA.

A gifted player

Unlike some other prodigies, Rachel Cheung does not come from a family of professional musicians. But as she expresses she has another mother in her life - Eleannor Wong. "Miss Wong taught me many things. I often went to her home to practice. Sometimes she even accompanied me for a longer time than my family members. She was strict with my lessons but very nice out of class."

With more than 20 years of teaching experience, Eleannor Wong nurtured many famous young pianists and accumulated extensive experience in spotting budding talents. Whenever she was asked to comment on Cheung, she always could not hide her excitement: "I taught many children to play the piano. Some are gifted for music understanding, some have a good sense of rhythm, and some boast very solid playing skills, and few have them all, however, Rachel is one of them. She is so young that she surely has great promise."

"She has a particularly remarkable attribute - very good intuition. She develops a spontaneous understanding whenever she touches upon something new. Sometimes I teach one thing to all students but in the end only she can absorb it and employ it in her playing as if it was her own creation," she added.

Though only 12 years old, Cheung is already a veteran performer with countless recitals in Hong Kong and overseas. Participating in the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival for five years, she captured numerous first prizes and awards including the Junior Exhibitioner Award 2001 and Piano Concerto under 18 Award 2002. Her most glorious success was the winning of the International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz in Ukraine, her very first No.1 in an international competition. On June 27, Rachel Cheung again took the championship of 2004 Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, the United States.

Cheung does not look or sound like a young celebrity. "Many classmates are avidly talking about fashion, food, star, TV series, but I am not interested in them at all. I am only interested in piano," Cheung said.

Many Hong Kong-based young artists follow the path of going abroad to develop their musical careers, however, Rachel Cheung sets her sight on becoming a truly Hong Kong musician. "I do not plan to go overseas. I was born in Hong Kong and I will continue to study here and try to draw more experience from all over the world. I will become an excellent Hong Kong pianist!"

Editor: Catherine

By:Florence Sun Source:szdaily
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