Carnegie Concert Part of Senior's Graduation

OGDEN, Utah – In addition to getting ready for graduation and applying for graduate programs, including at Julliard and Yale, Weber State University pianist Fan-Ya Lin is practicing for her debut concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31.

Lin will perform as one of the first-place winners in the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition 2013, in the “College Students and Professional Musicians” category. Lin is the only winner from Utah and joins a group of elite performers from around the world, including the U.S., South Korea, Lithuania and France. She is excited to perform with the other winners.

“I enjoy international competition because you see how people play and how they perform,” Lin said. “Every single one of them plays an important role in the music society because they all add so much with their individual style. They all have a different approach towards music and the piano, and you just feel so refreshing listening to them. It’s so inspiring. It’s actually spiritual.”

The petite pianist with a firm handshake and warm smile earned her honor after submitting several recordings to the American Protégé competition. She had an excellent selection of concerts from which to make her selection of recordings. As the national first place winner of the Music Teachers National Association Steinway Young Artist Piano Competition in 2010, Lin was awarded a $23,000 upright Steinway piano and a chance to play at Steinway Hall. 

She generously donated her upright piano to WSU and performed two benefit concerts to raise additional funds to exchange the upright for an $83,000 Steinway 7-foot concert grand piano.

From those concerts, she chose three pieces for the Protégé entry: Lowell Libermann, “Gargoyles Op. 29,” third and fourth movements; Franz Liszt, “La Campanella” and Fredrick Chopin, “Sonata No. 2.”

The judges have asked Lin to perform her Libermann piece at Carnegie Hall. It’s one of the first contemporary pieces in her repertoire.

“It was hard because it was kind of like a new language to me,” Lin recalled. She received some help with the interpretation of the work when she emailed both Libermann and pianist Eric Himy, who premiered the piece in 1989.

“They actually replied by email — both of them,” Lin said. “It was very nice. That piece has become a strength in my playing.” 

Both musicians emphasized the ferocious nature of gargoyles. “Gargoyles is meant not in any programmatic way, but to indicate sharply drawn character sketches of a somewhat grotesque or morbid nature,” Liebermann wrote. “The four pieces are actually highly contrasting etudes: the first, a devilishly difficult study in double-notes; the second, legato octaves above an ostinato; the third, legato melody with inner figuration divided between the two hands; and lastly, another fiendishly difficult study, an endurance test in double-notes, octaves and leaps.”

Lin went from gargoyles Liszt's, "La Campanella." The music is a perennial crowd-pleaser and sentimental favorite of Lin as the first piece she played for her mentor, WSU’s Presidential Distinguished Professor and director of keyboard studies, Yu-Jane Yang.

Their relationship is what brought Lin to Weber State. A native of Taipei, Taiwan, she had been accepted at other prestigious programs including Julliard and Oberlin Conservatory, but in addition to an excellent education, she wanted to find a home.

“I was auditioning in New York for two weeks, but my experience there wasn’t so great, partially because my English then wasn’t too good,” Lin said 

An experience ordering breakfast in the big city sticks in her memory. “I asked for a bagel, and the woman said, ‘What kind of bagel?’ I never thought about there being different kinds of bagel, so I needed time to process. She gave me a wave of the hand, indicating ‘You’re wasting everyone’s time.’ I was so shocked; it was not very welcoming.” 

During an audition on the opposite side of the country, at WSU two weeks later, Lin had the opposite experience. 
“Dr. Yang hosted me and my mother at her house. The first night, she gave me a lesson that was more than two hours long. It went until after midnight. I felt very special because she really cared about me. It was a game-changing point.”

It was game-changing for the university, as well. 

“Since coming to WSU in 2008, Fan-Ya has really put WSU's piano program on the musical map through her numerous performances and accomplishments, winning national and international competitions,” Yang said. “She has elevated so remarkably the reputation of WSU in the U.S. and abroad and has brought more prestige to the school through her piano playing than any music student I have known in the 20 years that I have been teaching at WSU.”  

Lin graduates in April with a degree in keyboard performance and a minor in psychology, which she says will help her understand classical composers and guess what they were thinking when they were composing.

She plans at least two more concerts in Utah: a free performance April 27 in the Browning Center Allred Theater at 7:30 p.m. and another with the Utah Symphony July 10 as part of the Sid & Mary Foulger International Music Festival at Weber State. Information about the festival can be found at

Visit for more news about Weber State University.

Allison Barlow Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •