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Two Glenelg High musicians travel to Vienna, New York as winners of international competitions

Glenelg High students Sihyun Jennifer Park, a 10th grade cellist, and Max Lu, a senior violinist, won awards in November. Jenny won first place in the Golden Classical Music Awards and was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. Max won an international composition contest and traveled to Vienna, Austria.
Glenelg High students Sihyun Jennifer Park, a 10th grade cellist, and Max Lu, a senior violinist, won awards in November. Jenny won first place in the Golden Classical Music Awards and was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. Max won an international composition contest and traveled to Vienna, Austria. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Two Glenelg High School orchestra students recently won international music competitions, taking one to Carnegie Hall in New York City and the other to Vienna, Austria.

In November, sophomore Sihyun Jennifer “Jenny” Park, a cellist, took center stage at the famed Carnegie Hall as one of the Golden Classical Music Awards first-place winners.

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Max Lu, a senior violinist and composer, went to Vienna for about a week in November to witness his original piece, “A Child’s Dream,” come to life at the Wiener Konzerthaus concert hall.

“[I’m] super proud of them. It takes a lot of work to get this good," said Kevin George, the orchestra teacher at Glenelg since 1996. "You can have all the talent in the world, but you need to practice.

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Glenelg’s music program strives to have students participate in as many performance settings as possible to help them develop, George said.

Max’s music career began at a young age when he started taking piano lessons. In the fourth grade, he began playing the violin.

He stopped playing the piano for a few years in high school, but when he picked it back up, he said, he began to “mess around” with composing his own pieces.

The 17-year-old taught himself the composition basics through YouTube videos by learning music theory. Eventually, he started studying with a composer.

“Composition comes in bursts,” Max said. He can work on a piece for two hours, getting nowhere, or sometimes he writes for four hours straight.

He decided to enter Sounds of Children’s Rights, an international composition contest hosted by the Austrian Federal Chancellery’s Department for Families and Youth.

To capture the theme, Max wrote a piece titled, “A Child’s Dream,” focusing on a child’s right to dream.

The piece, written for both piano and violin, is about 8 minutes long. Max worked on it for about two months, crafting softer opening and closing sections to portray a child falling asleep with a more uptempo section in the middle.

When in Vienna, Max said he had an “out-of-body experience” when he heard his own music come to life, being performed by a pianist and violinist.

After graduation, he hopes to attend a college to pursue both music and engineering.

“I’m looking for places where I don’t have to give up music,” Max said. “I won’t do that, no matter what.”

Jenny, 15, who first picked up a cello in first grade, performed Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in New York. Elgar was an English composer in the late 1890s and early 1900s who is probably best known for composing the Pomp and Circumstance marches, a portion of which is heard at almost all high school graduations across the United States.

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“As I walked onstage I thought, ‘That’s a lot of people.’ I was nervous,” she said. “But overall it went well.”

For contest consideration, Jenny recorded herself playing the piece and submitted it. An international competition, the Golden Classic Music Awards is open to all age levels and all nationalities for vocal, strings, piano and wind musicians. The competition is divided into age categories; Jenny won first place for the intermediate level, 13 to 15 years old.

As a fourth grader, Jenny became more serious about studying cello, sticking with it because she said she “realized I have a talent, and I started cultivating that talent.”

Jenny, who plans to go into the medical field one day, wants more Glenelg students to become involved with the music program.

Both students perform in Glenelg’s Chamber Orchestra, the Howard County Gifted and Talented Orchestra, and the Maryland All-State Orchestra.

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