Sheena Hui ’20 plays in Metropolitan International Piano Competition

One of the many benefits for students attending Claremont McKenna College is having the ability to take classes at the other Claremont Colleges. For Sheena Hui ’20, a 3/2 management and engineering major at CMC, and music and piano performance major at Scripps College, taking classes at the two colleges has been emotionally and intellectually fulfilling.

Now 18, Sheena has played the piano since she was 3 years old. During her senior year of high school, however, her interest in playing waned a bit. That changed after she met Hao Haung, the Bessie and Cecil Frankel Endowed Chair in Music and Professor of Music at Scripps College.

“I fell in love with the piano again so I decided to do a piano major,” Sheena said. “Before, I probably practiced one or two hours a day and now I practice about five hours per day.”

As her love to play continued to grow, Sheena set her sights on playing in the Metropolitan International Piano Competition in New York City, part of the Metropolitan International Music Festival.

The cost of getting to New York City initially impeded her plans. Then one day, when talking with a friend on the CMC Art Council, Sheena’s friend mentioned that the Art Council offers funds for students to pursue opportunities to embrace their artistic side. Sheena jumped at the opportunity and authored a short application. The Art Council granted her $200 for the trip, which enabled her to go to New York for the competition at the end of January.

“We were thrilled Sheena could have this memorable experience at the Metropolitan International Piano Competition with help from the Art Council Fund,” said Kris Brackmann ’17 of the Art Council. “As leaders, Jessie Capper ’17 and I have always loved hearing what unique proposals students interested in art present to us, and we knew Sheena would really grow from this opportunity.”

Sheena’s two-day trip to New York was a whirlwind. She arrived in the morning the day before the competition and returned to Southern California immediately after the competition. On the day before the competition, Sheena’s host family in New York arranged a dinner for her with a few musicians.

“It was very exciting to meet a singer, a violinist, and a conductor,” Sheena said.”

One of the individuals she met was Yu Long, conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout her life, Sheena had participated in small-scale competitions in her hometown of Hong Kong, but the Metropolitan International Piano Competition proved to be her biggest performance so far, in scale and audience size. She played two movements during the competition that lasted about 20 minutes total. Although she didn’t win a prize, Sheena believes the experience, and knowledge gained from the judges’ comments were quite beneficial and will help in her development as a pianist.

Since Sheena is in only her first year at CMC, her career path and goals are not completely defined at this point, although she does know that being a performer is not a goal. Instead, she hopes to use her mechanical engineering and musical background to work for Steinway & Sons, Yamaha or another prominent manufacturer of musical instruments.

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