Stevenson cello player wins West Suburban Symphony’s solo competition
Updated: April 29, 2013 2:14AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Stevenson High School sophomore Chris Gao’s performance on the cello is a talent he’s acquired from years of strict practice and a love of the instrument.
On Feb. 9, Gao won the West Suburban Symphony’s 2012 — 13 solo competition for high school musicians. As a result, he will be performing the second movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra” at the West Suburban Symphony’s “The American Stage” concert at Hinsdale Central High School on May 19, and will receive a $500 cash prize.
Gao was additionally one of the 13 students from Stevenson named to the 2012 – 13 all-state music groups by the Illinois Music Education Association (IMEA). He performed with his peers at the IMEA’s annual conference in Peoria last month, and gave two performances with his school’s Baroque Ensemble of which he is also a part.
Q: Where do you live?
A: Long Grove.
Q: How long have you been playing the cello?
A: Some 11 years.
Q: How did you get into cello?
A: My sister started playing musical instruments first—she started out with the piano when she was two—so I decided I wanted to try the piano too. Then she started playing the cello and I wanted to do that then too, and now I’m still doing it!
Q: Why do you think cello stuck with you more than piano?
A: I was at the age where I had to pick one or the other, and I felt that cello was much more fun. I actually played piano longer than cello, and every once in a while I try to play it again, but I stopped taking lessons. I’ve basically dedicated more of my time to cello. I think with cello, you have more options. It’s not just about playing a piece; I can play cello in an orchestra, chamber groups and I can also do solo. There’s also a lot of cool music I can play with cello.
Q: Who is your favorite composer?
A: One of my favorite composers is Shostakovich because the music he writes is different — kind of violent-aggressive and barbaric.
Q: Do you plan to pursue music and playing cello beyond high school?
A: I actually haven’t given that much thought — I’m trying to put that off as long as possible!
Q: Who inspires you musically?
A: It’s not really one specific person, but it’s more me going on Youtube to find anybody playing the same piece as me, and if I like it, I will sort of draw from that
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: It’s kind of hard for me to find the time, but in my spare time I’ll play tennis. Balancing school and music, though, it’s hard to find time to relax.
Q: What’s your favorite genre of music?
A: I listen to a little of everything, unless it’s for the purpose of my performance. I don’t usually listen to a lot of classical music.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “The Dark Knight Rises”
Q: TV show?
A: I usually watch what’s on TBS.