Music Academy Spotlight: Joy Wei

Joy Wei, 17, studies with Henry Gronnier in the Music Academy. This is her second year at Colburn. Joy is from Taichung, Taiwan.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

Why did you decide to study at Colburn?
My dream was to come to the US to study music, but at the time, my violin abilities weren’t up to the school’s standards. So I chose Colburn because of the environment here. All of my colleagues are supportive and make me want to practice every day.

When did you start playing violin?
I’ve been playing violin since I was four years old.

When did you decide to become more serious about it?
When I was 13. I went to a music festival with an orchestra and I saw many violinists who worked very hard after they went back to their dorms, and it made me want to be like them.

What do you think of Colburn?
I think Colburn is a very competitive school. The teachers are very kind and nice to every student and care about the students a lot. Mr. Gronnier, the Virtuosi [Orchestra], music theory, everything is really good. All the teachers really take care of the students.

Has your playing has improved since coming here?
Yeah, I think I improved last year. I practiced, and Mr. Gronnier taught me many skills and gave me a lot of practice. There are many chances to perform here, which makes me want to play better. When you go on stage, it will not be 100% perfect. You’ll be nervous so you’ll only play at 80% or 90%. So you have to practice in a practice room to make it perfect.

What are you performing on this weekend’s Music Academy Young Artist Performance?
I’m playing Carmen Fantasie by [Jenö] Hubay. It’s originally from Bizet’s opera Carmen, and the melody is for the mezzo-soprano. There are three composers who wrote different arrangements based on this opera: Sarasate, Hubay, and Waxman. I feel very surprised when I play the end because it’s very fast and technical. It’s very hard, and I really need to practice it a lot.

How long have you been working on it?
1-2 months.

Have you performed on a Music Academy Young Artist Performance before?
This my third time performing a solo piece. The first was last year; I did Wieniawski’s Polonaise Brillante. And this January, I did Wieniawki’s Scherzo Tarantelle.

What’s the experience like?
It makes me want to improve my playing. I know if I don’t do well this time, I will practice harder to improve my performance next time. My goal is to play my piece as well as I can on stage. And I think that’s the reason why I improved a lot this past year.

Do you like living in the US?
Yeah, sure. I like living here but because the environment is really different from my country and it’s a really different culture, I’m still adjusting. I have also been to Pennsylvania. I went there when I was 14 for a music camp. I really like the US.

What are your plans for the next few years?
I’m a senior this year and I’m applying for college. I really want to study here [at Colburn] and I want to be a violinist in an orchestra in the future.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding faculty and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.