Broadcasting his musical talent from the top

Broadcasting his musical talent from the top

Gently setting his bow on the strings of his violin, junior Ethan Yang prepares to record his debut performance on NPR’s classical music podcast, From the Top. 

Since he was eight-years-old, Yang has dedicated his time, money and efforts to the world of classical music. Having found a calling for this passion amidst his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and a stressful move, Yang said he came to love violin after watching a performance of a gospel music group on television. 

“I was super fascinated by the sound that they made, and their music became a remedy for my mental state,” Yang said via Instagram. 

Ever since, Yang has accumulated an array of achievements in music. One such award that has stood out to the violinist is winning the grand prize at the 2020 Phoenix Symphony Guild Young Musicians competition, which provided him with the opportunity to perform alongside the Phoenix Symphony. 

“This meant a lot to me because my private teacher at that time was part of the symphony, and she still is a part of them to this day,” he said. “Having the opportunity to play with her onstage was one [performance] that was extremely unforgettable.” 

In addition to competing in classical competitions, Yang has been in various orchestral groups. In the past, the junior held the title of concertmaster for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and was an active member of the Cactus Chamber musicians.

 It was due to his experience that Yang’s private instructor provided him with the opportunity to play for From the Top— a radio show highlighting young classical musicians’ talents and experiences. 

“I first heard about From the Top when my private teacher, Ms. Rose, introduced it to me and she wanted me to take a shot at it,” Yang said. 

While the performance itself was pre-recorded in a recording studio supplied by From the Top, Yang said he also played and was interviewed by the show’s hosts on Zoom. In preparation for the recording, Yang was challenged with scouring his previously learned pieces, as the show limited the time of a piece to be no longer than five minutes. Ultimately choosing to play “Red Violin Caprices,” Yang said he was given a month to prepare for the podcast. 

“Working with From the Top was a really amazing experience for me,” he said. “I got to learn many things that I have never learned before in other programs I have previously participated in.” 

For his successes in competitions, Yang has also been booked to perform privately. The violinist noted playing at places like churches, retirement homes and even at-home concerts. While Yang does accept some payment for more private events, he typically performs simply to spread his love for music. 

“For the retirement homes and churches and all those other events, I got invited to perform at those after winning some prizes at competitions,” Yang said. “[People] were very willing to pay, but I chose to treat it as an opportunity for me to share my passion for music to my audience instead of taking the money for granted.”