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The night before Fan-Ya Lin’s audition at Weber State University, she sat down at Yu-Jane Yang’s piano to play Chopin’s Ballad No. 4. Yang worked with her on the piece, note by note, and before they knew it, it was after midnight.
The next day, Lin played that same piece at her audition and, to Yang’s amazement, implemented every last tip from their lesson.
“I asked her how she fixed all the suggestions,” said Yang, WSU’s director of keyboard studies. “She said, ‘Oh, after I went downstairs, I wrote down everything we had talked about in the lesson and then just went over them in my head from the beginning to the end.’”
Lin was accepted into Juilliard for her undergraduate studies, but chose to attend WSU in part because of the bond she had already formed with Yang.
“For me, it’s kind of different, because she’s not just a teacher,” Lin said. “She’s like a mentor and more like a mother sometimes, because I don’t have any relatives here in the United States.”
After receiving an individualized and well-rounded education she said she would have missed out on at Juilliard, Lin will finally head to New York after graduation. There, she said, she hopes to study more music from the Romantic Period, her favorite, and her favorite composers, including Chopin and Mendelssohn.
Lin recently played at Carnegie Hall as one of the first-place winners in the American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition 2013. There she played a few contemporary pieces to perform and e-mailed the composers to inquire of their inspirations for the pieces.
“We have to learn the background, the history and (about) the composer himself,” Lin said. “. . . The more you know about one piece, the more you can get connected to it. It’s very personal, because every piece, I want to love them so much, because when I’m playing, I have so much to say, so I feel comfortable performing in front of so many people.”
Lin said in the Lieberman piece she played, “Gargoyles,” the third and fourth movement were her favorites.
“Practically speaking, a gargoyle is a water spout, so the third movement has this watery feeling,” she said. “. . . For the fourth movement, gargoyles are frightful-looking creatures that scare away evil spirits . . . (It) is a battle between the evil and the good, and it’s exciting to play it because I can imagine my own stories and try to portray and try to demonstrate it to the audience.”
Yang said Lin has a unique ability to not only convey the emotions of the pieces she plays, but to make the members of the audience feel those emotions too.
“She will be playing, and you look into the audience, and so many people have tears streaming down their faces.”
Lin said she hopes to be a concert pianist and perform around the world.
“Hopefully, with some connections I can find in New York, like engagements or agencies and also with more competition experience, I can have more engagements and play in different places.”
She said one of her other biggest dreams is to compete in the Chopin International Piano Competition.
“It’s kind of one of the biggest competitions in the world. I would hope I can get in and have a feel for what it’s like to compete in such a big competition.”
Yang said Lin is well prepared to enter this next stage in her journey.
“I’m looking forward to all the wonderful things she is able to do now.”
Lin will also perform at Commencement with fellow piano performance student Zoe Lu, who has been accepted into the Manhattan School of Music’s master’s program in piano.