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Budding Virtuoso Nian-Kai Chung Wins National Contest
Nian-Kai Chung, a junior in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Sciences, came in first place in the zhonghu solo category of the University B Division in the 2013 National Young Musicians Competition, bringing honor to his school and giving a major boost to his music career. In his acceptance speech Chung stated, "Learning to play the zhonghu is like venturing into an endless cavern; every time you think you are nearing the end, you suddenly discover that you still have a long way to go."
 
For the shy-looking Chung, learning to play the zhonghu is best described as developing a relationship with the instrument. He's always had an interest in Chinese classical music, and that's how he fell in love with the zhonghu: "It has only two strings, a small body, and a slender neck, but the sound it makes is magical." In Chung's experience, it's as if the zhonghu chose him, rather than the other way around.
 
Chung began learning zhonghu when he was in the fifth grade, and in the sixth grade he joined the Miaoli County Youth Orchestra. During junior high school he joined the Hsinchu City Youth Orchestra, and currently plays with the Hsinchu Youth Orchestra. His main teachers have been Li-Ting Yeh,Wei-HaoWu, Jia-Yu Li, and Bi-Ru Tsai. In his short career he has already shared the stage with a number of highly accomplished musicians, including Min Hui-fen, Tang Feng, and Sun Huang.
 
Although the zhonghu has long been his constant companion, it has not always been smooth sailing. When he was in primary school there weren’t many other students learning the zhonghu, so his talent soon became apparent, leading him to become a bit arrogant. However, when he started playing with orchestras he soon discovered that there were lots of other talented musicians, and he quickly disabused his illusions. It was also at that time that he first encountered the frustration of practicing hard without attaining the expected results. As a result he learned the supreme value of patience and perseverance.
 
His diligence has paid off. In December of last year he came in first place in the Hsinchu City Music Competition, and in March of this year he represented Hsinchu City in the national competition. Despite the stiff competition from a wide array of outstanding musicians, Chung managed to again come in first place.
 
Nian-Kai Chung (right) studying directing with Hui-Chang Yan.

Nian-Kai Chung (right) studying directing with Hui-Chang Yan.

Nian-Kai Chung practicing the zhonghu.

Nian-Kai Chung practicing the zhonghu.

 

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