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Four prestigious schools come calling

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 14:22 14/05/2014
Sylvia Jiang
HIGH NOTE: Pianist Sylvia Jiang has been offered full scholarships to four prestigious American music schools including The Yale School of Music and Juilliard School.

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Being invited to attend a top class American university is the stuff of movies and dreams for many.

But it will soon be a reality for 18-year-old pianist Sylvia Jiang.

The former St Cuthbert's College student in Auckland has been offered full scholarships to four prestigious American music schools; Juilliard School, Yale School of Music, Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and New England Conservatory .

Sylvia started learning the piano at age 4 and never imagined her hobby would take her so far. 

"I had no way of foreseeing the future and whether I was even going to be good at this or not. I was definitely not one of those young child prodigies who could play all their Mozart sonatas by age 11, I just wasn't that person," she says.

"So the fact that I am getting accepted to these schools now is almost unbelievable in every sense of the word."

She says it was an honour to get a live audition at the schools let alone the chance to start fulltime study at one of them.

"I was shocked to be invited to all four schools because you are told, 'you apply to these schools and you might get two recalls and it would be good if you get in to one'.

"The faculty over there is just so incredible, you are literally performing for people who you have watched or read about and it is suddenly like, 'no way, I am here with them'."

Sylvia is one of only a handful of New Zealand undergraduate students to ever be offered a spot at Juilliard but has yet to decide which offer she will accept.

She says the support of her mother and her love of music has kept her at the piano over the last 14 years.

"Playing the piano is almost, for me, like acting but your music is your words and instead of holding your script you have your score," she says.

"Off stage you delve into what this piece of music is about and what you want to say with it. Music is a language so it is always about communicating something, it is about what you want to say."

Last year, while completing year 13, she also studied a Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance under Auckland University's Young Scholars programme.

She will continue studying for the rest of the semester before heading to America later this year.

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- East And Bays Courier

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