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Warrick Wang: Sabah's Beethoven In The Making?

Last update: 09/05/2010
By Emin Madi

KOTA KINABALU, May 9 (Bernama) -- He impressed me with his eloquence, fluent English and his sound knowledge of some of the world's greatest composers and pianists, such as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

But this is not exactly the reasons why this reporter was excited to interview this young lad from Sandakan, the east coast of Sabah. He is, afterall, one of Sabah's very talented young piano players.

At 13, Warrick Wang is already a diploma holder from the Interlochen summer camp (Art) at Michigan, USA, and a fifth grader in music theory (writing).

The 156cm tall Warrick later demonstrated, courtesy of a music centre here, why he is such a gifted piano player when he masterfully played a piece from Baroque, Mozart's classical, Chopin's romantic and Rachmaninov.

The only child of Mr Wilson Wang Vui Soon, a secondary school mathematics teacher and Cecilia Chai, a librarian, Warrick first started learning organ at age four but switched to piano just before seven.

"My husband was listening to a classical music CD in 2005 when Warrick got interested in 'moonlight sonata' by Beethoven. He liked the song so much that he asked me to search the score for him.

"I told Warrick it was a very difficult piece, but he insisted. It took him only about a week to master the piece," Chai told Bernama in an interview.

According to her, a professional piano teacher in Sandakan, Clare Math, took Warrick as her Grade 4 student after he impressed her with his enthusiasm, but after she moved to Kota Kinabalu, one of Math's former student, Chu Lee Fong, took him under her wing.

Chai said, Warrick, who practised playing piano four hours daily, had so far, participated in the KK Music Festival and KL Youth Music Festival, where he won the top two prizes.

He will also be taking part in the 4th ASEAN Chopin International Piano competition in Kuala Lumpur in November.

Last year, Warrick, who does home school, earned his diploma in piano after attending a three-week intermediate piano course at Interlochen School of Art in Michigan, USA and was the only student from Malaysia in that batch.

Describing his short stint at Interlochen as both exciting and challenging, Warrick said the course was basically aimed at exposing students to the various methods and disciplines in piano playing, including the life histories of the world's renowned composers and pianists.

"We were also taught how to play (piano) with the mind and with the whole body, soul and heart," said the teenager who is also a big fan of the Chinese piano maestro, Li Yundi.

According to Chai, the summer camp at Interlochen cost US$4,200, but almost half of the fee was borne by Interlochen's scholarship.

"The scholarship was given on the basis that we couldn't afford to pay the full amount and also on the basis that Warrick was good enough to enter the school.

"Warrick was accepted again for this year's summer camp, but we just cannot afford to send him," said Chai, adding that he also needed to be accompanied because of his age.

Meanwhile, Warrick's father, Wilson, hoped the state government, via the state youth and sports ministry, had the foresight to actualise the potentials of Sabah youths by providing meritorious scholarship.

"And I sincerely hope that Warrick is counted as one of them," he said, adding that his son had indicated many times of his desire to further his piano studies in Great Britain.