Point Grey teen's talent takes her to the Big Apple

At age 13, Point Grey secondary student Maggie Chang has seen one of her dreams come true.

The passionate pianist played Carnegie Hall in New York City late last month. She was one of two young Canadians in an international field of 34 performers who were invited to play Nov. 25 as part of the American Protg International Music Talent Competition.

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Adjudicators not only selected Chang to play after watching videos of her making music, but the 13-year-old was also the first place winner in the 10- to 14-year-old age group and received a judges distinction award for her performance.

Chang isn't sure how many competed to play but those selected included musicians from Singapore, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, China and the U.S.

"Performing myself and also listening to a lot of the other performers play," she said, were her highlights.

Chang started playing piano at age five but quit twice, first when she moved to Canada from her birth country China, and the second time when she returned to China for a period.

"It takes some time to adjust to the new environment," she said. "I like to focus on single things."

But she couldn't give up playing piano.

"I have a really strong passion for music and arts in general," she said.

Chang studies piano one hour a week, practises two hours a day and plays in her school's concert and jazz bands.

"She's got a maturity level that you don't see in 99 per cent of people in Grade 8," said Stephen Fleming, music teacher and music director at Point Grey. "I've never heard her play piano, I've only heard her play saxophone, and her musical ability on that is far above everyone else in the class, so much so that the rest of the kids in the class know it, too. She's a soloist in jazz band and they all say, 'Wow, why aren't we all as good as Maggie?'"

Chang picked up the saxophone for the first time in September.

"I like to try new things," she said, noting she also plays the clarinet.

Chang has no desire to turn her skills and flair into a career.

"I don't plan to play professional," she said. "It's just one of my hobbies. There are a lot of other subjects [I like] and also for piano, it's very hard to be at an international stage. Like for example Lang Lang, the famous piano player, there's only one in the whole world, right. When I do something, I want to be really good at it, and excel at it, so it's far harder for me to be a superstar in the piano industry."

crossi@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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