The Wong kids kept it all in the family by scoring accolades at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s International Music Festival.
Produced by the Vancouver Area Youth Arts Society, the fall edition of the festival took place online in October – and the transition to a virtual event proved to be a welcome change for Brookswood’s Gabrielle Wong, Catherine Wong and Dominic Wong.
“I think all of us found it a little bit less stressful, because normally, it’s like you play it, you get one shot, and that’s it. And then the adjudicator is right there listening to you play. And this time it was a little bit more removed. So it’s definitely a bit of a different experience doing it all online,” Gabrielle recalled about their piano performances.
Gabrielle, the eldest, was awarded an outstanding performance medallion in the solo piano senior division.
“We all recorded our pieces at home, and then we submitted them to the festival and then later we got feedback from the adjudicator,” the 18-year-old explained.
Her younger siblings Catherine and Dominic also gave noteworthy performances.
Catherine, 13, was recognized as the promising intermediate piano student for her work.
She also won an outstanding concerto performance medallion, and an outstanding piano ensemble medallion alongside her 15-year-old brother, Dominic.
The pair are students at Langley Fundamental Middle and Secondary School.
But the trio all study under Richard Haack at the Western Conservatory of Music. An education they all began in Kindergarten.
“He really does a good job of balancing excellence in music, but also making sure that it’s still a very fun activity,” said Gabrielle. “And I think that’s definitely part of the reason none of us have ever thought about quitting.”
Gabrielle graduated from R.E. Mountain Secondary and is currently studying at Simon Fraser University, but says piano remains key to finding meaningful opportunity in life.
“I’ve been able to use it (music) for some forms of social good,” she said.
Gabrielle currently serves as a program coordinator for a nonprofit called West Coast Youth Music Society.
“We organize concerts for seniors homes; recently, digital concerts because of COVID,” she explained. “And that has been an outlet for me to use music as a way to bring joy to others and spread the value of music to other people.”
Meanwhile, Catherine and Dominic say it’s their passion to play piano that keeps them motivated to continue to perform.
The siblings estimate they each spend at least seven hours a week sharpening their skills.
But they advise young performers wanting to take up the instrument not to get caught up in winning awards.
“Just kind of focus on the feedback and focus on enjoying the music you hear and you play,” Catherine shared.
The trio want to thank their parents for their support and for not minding when they practice piano at “odd hours of the day.”
For a complete list of award winners visit vayafestivals.ca/kpu-international-music-festival/kpu-music-awards-bursaries.
Also, KPU is now accepting registration for its spring edition. The 22nd annual festival will also take place online. Soloists and small groups are asked to submit links to their performance on YouTube or Google Drive.
Select performers will be invited to compete at the 2021 provincial festival in June 2021.
Deadline to register is Feb. 21.
For more information visit vayafestivals.ca/kpu-international-music-festival.