Talented concerto winner aims toward goal

Richard Guy presents violin concerto winner and Beijing native Yuan Yuan with the Marsha Specht Guy Memorial Prize named for Guy's mother, a La Sierra alumna.
Richard Guy presents violin concerto winner and Beijing native Yuan Yuan with the Marsha Specht Guy Memorial Prize named for Guy's mother, a La Sierra alumna.

April 29, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE (www.lasierra.edu) -- La Sierra University music certificate student Yuan Yuan works as hard practicing her violin as many people do at their jobs. She puts in an average of 30 hours per week on her instrument, and that’s a decrease from her childhood average of 50 hours per week spent practicing.

But the past 18 years of patient, long effort have laid a strong foundation and brought rewards. The talented young musician, a native of Beijing, has nailed a number of major competitions including second prize in China’s national violin competition and third prize in her country’s national violin sonata competition.

On Saturday evening, April 16, Yuan displayed her dazzling abilities as the featured performer in La Sierra’s 53rd Annual Concerto Concert held during alumni weekend in Hole Memorial Auditorium. She won this year’s event and its Marcia Specht Guy Memorial Prize of $2,500. She received a lengthy, standing ovation in response to her riveting performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.” She was accompanied by the La Sierra Symphony Orchestra under direction of maestro John Carter. The program included a performance by pianist Jonathan Mamora, winner of the Inland Empire Piano Festival.

Jason Uyeyama, La Sierra’s director of string studies and Yuan’s violin teacher informed the young performer by e-mail that she had won the concerto event. “I so excited and felt happy,” Yuan exclaimed. She credits her accomplishment in part to her own self-belief, but largely to Uyeyama. “Jason Uyeyama said, ‘Yuan, you will be great.’ That inspired me to be more confident,” said the violinist.

Yuan has been in the United States only four months. She arrived here to study violin at La Sierra. She and Uyeyama connected in 2009 when he taught and performed at Yuan’s school, the Central Conservatory of Music, the national leading music school in Beijing. “I was filled with admiration for his amazing violin performance technique and his high teaching skill,” Yuan said. Coincidentally, the two musicians also shared the same renowned violin teacher at different times in the past, the late Yao Ji Lin. Yuan determined it was her destiny to study with Uyeyama. She decided to travel to the United States after graduating from the conservatory and enter La Sierra’s music certificate program.

Yuan prepares for performance and competition by practicing “very hard and carefully,” she said, and building endurance. In addition, “a very important thing is having a great professor who would like to help you achieve that higher level,” she said.

Yuan was not born into a musical family, she said. Her mother is an engineer and her father is a disabled soldier. When she was a child, her mother spent most of her time caring for her father who had suffered a leg injury in a battle. “She did not have enough time to look after me, so at that time I studied violin, calligraphy and singing,” Yuan said. The various occupations kept the young Yuan busy while her mother tended to her father.

As with her musical endeavors, Yuan exhibited the same work ethic and patience in practicing calligraphy. As a result, she won than 30 domestic and international awards for her skill.

Currently the La Sierra student is practicing her English, her violin and planning to earn money selling books on campus. Next year, she will audition for entrance info the famed Julliard School in New York City and for a master’s program at Yale University. “Hopefully my dream will come true,” said the musician.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  April 29, 2011