Teens bring gift of music to seniors
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Cellist Christina Cheng, pianist Jeena Lee and violinist Flora Li are using their musical talents to bring joy to local seniors.
The musicians — all 4S Ranch residents who attend Del Norte High School — have been performing together as Trio con Fuoco since August 2011. They go to the same music teacher, Luyan Guo, who often has the trio perform chamber music in the hour-long monthly concerts that also feature some of his other students. The girls also perform individually.
“Seeing their joy when we play music (is the reason),” Li said for choosing to perform at senior residential facilities.
Among Rancho Bernardo and Poway venues have been Casa de las Campanas, The Remington Club, The Gateway and Villa Rancho Bernardo.
“One lady told me she used to play violin, but she got too old and her fingers were not strong enough (anymore),” Cheng said. “(But through our performance) she said she did not have to give up music. It is nice seeing their reactions.”
The concerts are also an extension of their community service work they do through various clubs at Del Norte High, they said.
Lee said the community performances are a lot less “nerve wracking” than their competitions too.
The group, whose name means Trio with Fire, has won several awards. The most recent was in July, when they won the grand prize in the California State 2012 Satori Strings Contest. Other honors have included first place in the 2012 MTAC VOCE competition (Music Teachers’ Association of California’s contest for vocalists, orchestral instrumentalists, chamber music and ensembles). They also placed first in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) 2011 Ensemble Auditions and received an unanimous superior award in the CAPMT 2011 Fall Performance Contest. The trio also performed at the CAPMT Piano and Ensemble Southern California Festival last January.
When youngsters, all played the piano and said they had different reasons for selecting the instruments they now play.
Cheng, a 16-year-old junior, said she previously played the piano and flute before choosing the cello four years ago. The switch was inspired by the movie “August Rush,” in which one of the main characters was a cellist, she said.
Lee, a 15-year-old sophomore, said she began playing the piano at age 6 because she could take lessons from a friend of her mother.
Li, a 14-year-old sophomore, said she started playing the violin six years ago because it was another instrument for which her teacher offered lessons.
The girls practice together for an hour in addition to their private lessons and individual practice at home. Most of their selections are by Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, whose music they referred to as “challenging and fun.”
Though they also perform in other groups — for example, Cheng and Li are in San Diego Youth Symphony — they said performing as a trio is special because of their friendship that existed prior to forming the group.
“It’s a lot of fun and a lot different from playing as an individual,” Lee said. “It’s more fun when with your friends and playing for other people.”
“It’s a lot of work and taught me to be dedicated because I do not want to let these guys down,” Cheng said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s a great experience in general and (we like) all aspects of music,” Li said, adding when they go to senior homes they are in “a really friendly environment.”
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