Guest Posts
Yoonie Han: On Enriching Students’ Musical Experience

Piano Seminar at Hong Kong Baptist University

Dr. Yoonie Han with her students at Hong Kong Baptist University Piano Seminar

Dr. Yoonie Han, Assistant Professor of Piano at the Academy of Music at Hong Kong Baptist University, is also a Steinway Artist and Steinway Honorary Teacher. She has encouraged Hong Kong students to join international music festivals and competitions to widen their perspectives and broaden their social networks.

A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard School, State University of New York, she is the first-prize winner of the Washington International Piano Competition, World Piano Competition, Fulbright Concerto Competition, and Juilliard’s Gina Bachauer Piano Competition. Yoonie has performed with the Berliner Symphoniker, Buffalo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Miami Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Juilliard Symphony. As an international artist, she has appeared at the Berlin Philharmonie, Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Kennedy Center. Yoonie’s albums have been published on renowned labels such as Steinway records, Universal Music Group, Centaur records, and Concert Artists Guild.

Istanbul Piano Festival & Steinway Awards 2018

Istanbul Piano Festival & Steinway Awards 2018

During her four years at HKBU, her Hong Kong piano students were accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University, Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, Boston University, the University of South Oregon in the USA, University of Montreal, McGill University, University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary, and Western University in Canada. They have won top prizes at the Hong Kong International Music & Arts Festival, Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme, Hong Kong International Piano Pedagogy Association’s competition, Hong Kong International Youth Performing Arts Festival, the Musicus Society Young Artists Audition, Macau Youth Piano Competition, and the Asia Youth Music Competition, just to name a few.

Her students say these accomplishments and accolades would not have been possible without Yoonie’s devotion to their professional development and her broad network in the world of music education. Everyone in Yoonie’s classes becomes part of a family and true colleagues in musical development. They enjoy getting performance opportunities in studio classes, piano concerto seminars, masterclasses, and concerts organized by her. They think of Yoonie not as a piano teacher, but as their mentor.

Korean Cultural Center HKBU Students Chamber Music Concert 2019

Korean Cultural Center HKBU Students Chamber Music Concert 2019

As an Artistic Director and Founder of the Istanbul Piano Festival and Steinway Awards, and as an External Events Coordinator at her previous university job, she has produced multiple concerts for students. She believes that it’s a responsibility for a pedagogue not only to teach the next generation but also to prepare them to be a well-rounded musician by giving them performance opportunities and helping them to gain their international musical experience. Her HK Baptist University students are regularly invited to perform for the Steinway Galleries in Hong Kong, and the Korean Cultural Centre. They also enjoy attending Steinway virtual masterclasses with world-renowned professors.

Benefiting from her own experience studying and teaching in 6 different countries, she encourages her students to explore and appreciate other cultures, and pursue a greater understanding of the musical world. She realized that many Hong Kong students have not been exposed to the outside world. When there were opportunities for students to perform solo recitals and a concerto with a professional orchestra, and study with respectable professors, she thought this would be an invaluable experience for the students. She encouraged students to participate, and helped them to achieve generous financial support from the festivals.

Piano Masterclass HKBU 2021

Piano Masterclass HKBU 2021

Yoonie believes that just as actors interpret the script of a play or movie, musicians must interpret the original score, bringing their own ideas of tempo, phrasing, rubato and stylistic embellishment. Without the interpretation of performers, a musical score is as silent as a tree falling, unheard, in a remote forest. Achieving the imaginative interpretation and confidence to share with the audience are the performer’s responsibility. Seeing various cultures, working with different teachers, and having performing experiences are invaluable opportunities for young artists to demonstrate their abilities in a very meaningful way.

Yoonie and her students are looking forward to performing and traveling together, to explore learning opportunities in diverse cultures.

Students Feedback:

Lunigiana Int'l Music Festival 2019

Lunigiana Int’l Music Festival 2019

“The whole experience at MusicFest Perugia was eye-opening and inspiring. I had a chance to work with amazing teachers, observe all masterclasses, and had my concerto debut with a professional orchestra! Thanks to the international connections of Dr. Han, and her valuable advice in preparing for auditions and competitions. She is not only a great teacher and person but also my mentor. I have never imagined I could come to this step without those international exposure, and I am truly indebted to Dr. Han.”
– Anna Tse

“My first consideration to be a professional pianist came during the Lunigiana Music Festival. I learned to push myself to the limit and realized what I was capable of, and those experiences gave me lots of inspiration and ideas on what to work on and improve. Words are powerless to express my gratitude to you and for the international experience, Dr. Han!”
– Raymond Chan

After the student recital at MusicFest Perugia 2019

After the student recital at MusicFest Perugia 2019

“Dr. Han invited me to join MusicFest Perugia as she thought it would be a brilliant idea to play for other professors and have an opportunity to play with an orchestra. Finding a balance between being steady and staying musical has always been a challenge for me. Working with different teachers with their personal attention, I was able to improve my issues. It was my best musical experience so far.”
– Joseph Wong

“Through playing for different professors, I learnt a lot in terms of perspectives, techniques and musical ideas. The suggestions and views from various professors from different cultural backgrounds helped me discover more on how the piece could be interpreted versatilely.”
– Tiana Wong

“I have never been outside of Hong Kong, and it broadens my horizons. Performing in public has been difficult for me. I got lots of opportunities to perform onstage at the Lunigiana Festival. I am more confident now, and look forward to continuing my performance career!”
– Michele Lam

Inspirations and insights gained from international musical exposure

After the students’ concerto debut performance at MusicFest Perugia 2019

“It is a rare opportunity to play with a professional orchestra as a soloist. Another valuable experience at the MusicFest Perugia was that I was surrounded by great professors and passionate friends from all over the world.”
– Eric Chan

“I have learned and grown a lot from the international exposure at the festivals in Italy and Shanghai with you.”
– Briony Chow

“Not only for your intelligent teaching but also for encouraging me to participate in musical events, helped me to realize what I am capable of. There is no better lesson than that!”
– Minnie Ng

“I learned a lot of skills and gained confidence in playing the piano. The whole experience working with Dr. Han strengthened my hope that I would continue with my dream to be a performing artist.”
– Zoe Yu

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