By Vania Cao
Bethesda, Md. – The 2013 Asian American Music Society (AAMS) International Competition took place on October 26th in Bethesda, Maryland. The Bethesda Presbyterian Church saw a steady stream of performers from as far as New York and Washington State, as young musical artists competed for cash prizes at their assigned competition time in the categories of Strings, Woodwind, Piano and Voice. Student performers competed in the Peewee (Grades 1-5), Junior (Grades 6-8) and Senior Divisions (Grades 9-12); each artist self-selected two contrasting pieces for their 10 minute time slot.
The 1st place winners from each category and division walked away with a small scholarship and the honor of performing at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage during the AAMS Winner’s Concert on November 25th, 2013. Micah Tsoi, a 10th grader at Urbana High School and a third time participant in the competition, won first place in Piano for the Senior Division. His conviction to improve his performance from past years paid off despite stiff competition this year. “I thought it was pretty intense,” he said. “There were lots of big pieces today, and it was really interesting to hear everyone else.”
The AAMS International Competition has been a long-recurring event over the years, and is chaired by Dr. Mira Yang, Professor of Voice at George Mason University and President of the AAMS. In partnership with members of the Friday Morning Music Club, a volunteer symphony orchestra in D.C., Dr. Yang created this event to help young musicians, particularly in the Asian community, prepare for competitions. “Many parents send their children to music lessons, but they are not sure how to keep up with it,” Dr. Yang said. She hopes that this competition will inspire students to keep practicing on a daily basis, whether or not they placed on Saturday. “Keep up with it,” she said. “Use that spirit for your life’s obstacles!”
Seasoned music professors and music professionals were invited as judges for each category. Dr. Linda Apple Monson, Associate Director of Keyboard Studies at George Mason University, praised the organization of the event. “I do a lot of judging, but this is my first time with this particular experience,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience. Each [competition] is wonderful because when you are judging…there’s always that sense of joy, to see such wonderful young artistry and such glorious potential for continued growth.”
Haewon Min, who teaches keyboard at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Georgetown University, agreed. “The level of the students is really high,” she said. “It’s really exciting to listen to all the accomplishments of the young artists.”
Students and judges alike gained experience and grew from their participation during the event. “It gives young people an opportunity to get the feedback from professional artists, from people who are at the university level and beyond, to continue on their path,” said Patricia Miller, Director of Vocal Studies at George Mason University. “We’re here to encourage and help them grow. This program that Dr. Yang has done is outstanding, for the community and also to help students, to guide them to the next step. This has been exciting to me.”
Although the majority of the students competing were of Asian descent, the AAMS International Competition is open to everyone, and there was a diverse mix of participants on Saturday. Pieces performed ranged from Liszt’s Legend No. 2 “St. Francis Walking on the Waves”, to vocal performances from Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.
The 2013 competition results, and more details about future AAMS events, can be found at their website: http://www.aamsopera.com/
Asian Fortune is an English language newspaper for Asian American professionals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Visit fb.com/asianfortune to stay up to date with our news and what’s going on in the Asian American community.