In 2017, Artistic Director Natalie Zhu invited then 8-year-old Ian Lin, the son of former KCMF treasurer Bing-Xuan Lin and Christine Liu, to a KCMF piano masterclass. He participated again the following year. Fast forward six years and the now 14-year-old Lin is poised to return to a KCMF stage for our 2nd Annual Young Artist Mini Recital on August 2, 2024.
Lin will perform Franz Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy in C major, Op.15. He says he is excited to showcase his musical growth and give a composer he sees as an “underappreciated prodigy” a spotlight.
Regarded as Schubert’s most technically difficult piece, Lin notes that the Wanderer Fantasy was “an experience” to learn. “It’s unique,” he says. “There is no break between movements, but each movement still has its own form while being part of a bigger work.”
Since his experiences at the masterclasses, he’s been looking forward to playing at KCMF again. He says that seeing “musicians of the highest level close to home” has inspired him to appreciate music and pursue it more seriously. “I saw William Ge at last summer’s Young Artist Mini Recital. He played amazing, and I got inspired,” he adds.
A Rhode Island native, Lin studies piano with Zhu and Meng-Chieh Liu, piano faculty at both Curtis Institute of Music and New England Conservatory of Music, as well as music composition with Dr. Ke-Chia Chen at Curtis.
He credits Zhu’s teaching style with helping him find direction in music and motivating him to practice more. As someone with skills and interest in playing both the piano and violin – as well as tennis – he had options. “After taking lessons and being connected with Natalie, he really focused on the piano,” his mother Christine Liu explains.
“She really understands what each student needs to learn in the best way for them,” Lin says of Zhu. “She’s very supportive and encouraging. She gives very specific feedback, and now I actually enjoy practicing.”
The admiration is mutual. “I simply feel lucky to have Ian as my student,” Zhu says. “What most impresses me about this young fellow is that he consistently demonstrates a remarkable ability to grasp complex concepts and apply them effectively. Ian’s curiosity and eagerness to learn is truly inspiring!”
As Lin continues to impress and delight audiences wherever he plays, he notes that his motivation is about more than just developing expertise.
“My favorite composer has always been Bach,” he says. “He was such a genius yet really humble. At the end of most of his works he writes s.d.g (Soli Deo Gloria in Latin), which means ‘Glory to God Alone’, and I keep in mind that everything I do should be for the glory of God, just like Bach claimed.”
“He’s not doing this for his own glory,” Liu adds about Lin. “Music is one of the closest forms to God that people find spiritual rest and peace in. It makes playing it much more meaningful.”