Student Highlight: Katelyn Tan, ’17
Many musicians dream of performing at Carnegie Hall in New York. This past May, Pacific student Katelyn Tan ’17 hit that milestone after receiving the Honorable Mention from the 2016 American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition. She was one of the youngest in her category (college students and professionals) to win an award. She also participated in the Gijon International Piano Festival in Gijon, Spain this past summer where she had the opportunity to study with faculty from Eastman School of Music, Julliard, Northwestern University and Peabody Conservatory of Music.
Tan remembers hearing her parents play piano at home, wondering how it was even possible for people to move their fingers with such dexterity and mobility and create beautiful, touching melodies She began learning music as a percussionist in third grade before picking up piano in fifth grade. After middle school, Tan was accepted to San Francisco Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, a pre-conservatory program for high schoolers devoted to the visual and performing arts. She knew that music was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
In any art form, there is an endless amount of learning. There is no limit to what an individual can do with art, and to Tan, there is always something she can do better. After finishing a performance, Tan thinks about all the things she did not do that would have made her performance better. “I’ve realized that this kind of thinking, although it’s negative, is what keeps me going,” she said.
Music is also a way for people to express themselves. When Tan plays or listens to a piece, she can feel the emotion being created. One of the most important things about music to her is being able to reach out to an audience and convey her feelings to them.
Tan feels lucky and happy to have the opportunity to learn about music and share her love of it with other people. “Winning competitions and going to festivals is like icing on the cake,” she stated. “Just knowing that I can wake up every day and make music is something that keeps me going.”
When asked if she had advice for aspiring musicians, Tan said, “Enjoy music, become obsessed with pieces, and make your own music. Just love it whether you’re good at it or not because skill and talent can always be crafted and improved with devotion. Hard work will take you to places where you thought you’d never be. As long as you know and feel that you’re improving, there’s nothing that should stop you from continuing music.”
Tan recently found out that she placed 2nd in the 2016 American Fine Arts Festival Golden Era of Romantic Music International Competition. She continues her music career at Pacific, and you can find her performing in a recital on Nov. 5 as part of Pacific Piano Day. She will also be playing at a chamber music concert on Nov. 17 as a part of Pacific’s Chamber Music Department series at the home of Michael Spencer in Morada.
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