Local youth selected for national piano competition

She has performed at music institutes, conservatories and concert halls around the world. At 16 years old, La Crescenta pianist Connie Kim-Sheng is making a name for herself and proving she's got the talent to make music all across the keyboard.

The youth was recently selected to compete in the June 22 to 27 New York Piano Competition, an annual event presented by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation at the Manhattan School of Music. Kim-Sheng is one of 22 youths selected from across the country to compete in the event. One other California pianist, Xuan “Amy” Zhang of Laguna Niguel, also was chosen for the competition.

Kim-Sheng, who has been playing the piano since she was 3 years old, said she's excited to take part in the competition. “A friend of mine went to the competition two years ago and she said it was wonderful,” Kim-Sheng said. “I know it's going to be very exciting.”

She also will be performing closer to home at a Junior Chamber Music Concert on May 16 in Los Angeles.

It's not surprising Connie Kim-Sheng has a passion for music. Her mom, Juli Kim, is a concert pianist, artist and piano teacher. Her brother, Michael, 14, plays guitar, drums, and piano. And she's the daughter of violinist Zhong-Xin Sheng of Arcadia.

Her family's La Crescenta home is an homage to music and the arts, with sketches and paintings created by the youth and her mom, a dining room wall filled with musical instruments and no less than six pianos in the home, four of which are grand pianos. One of those grand pianos is in Kim-Sheng's bedroom, where she can close the door to shut out the rest of the world in typical teen fashion, her mom joked.

Though she enjoys many of the activities of kids her age, such as attending a recent prom at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Cañada, Kim-Sheng isn't a “typical teen.” The youth is a serious musician whose life is filled with music, performance and practice. She practices about seven hours every day and has spent most of her summers learning music theory and techniques, and performing at music camps and institutes around the world. “Practicing sometimes gets tiring,” Kim-Sheng said, adding that she enjoys the results of that practice — performing for crowds and earning the praise of peers and music lovers around the world.

Kim-Sheng attended a private boarding school, Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, Calif., for part of her ninth grade year, and attended Flintridge Preparatory School for the rest of that year and through the first quarter of her junior year. However, she has since opted to be home-schooled, because of the time needed for her musical studies. “Flintridge is really academic and I loved it there, but there was so much homework that I had to make a decision for my music,” she said.

Juli Kim said her daughter was “an excellent student at Flintridge, but she got little sleep. So, she had to make sacrifices.”

Last month, she was a featured artist in Sedona, Arizona, where she performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Verde Valley Symphony. She also led and performed at a lecture recital for children of that area. “That was a lot of fun,” she said. “The children were wonderful.”

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