By Rachelle Hughes
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–What does it take for a 16 year old to become a musical protégé? For past Cedar City resident Sarah Sun, it has taken hours of practice, an unrelenting love for the piano, and some talented local music teachers.
Last November, Sun played Franz Liszt’s “La Campanella” at Carnegie Hall in New York City in the 2017 American Protégé International Concerto Competition. She placed second in her age category.
Such an honor has come through years of dedication to music. In 2004, Sun began lessons with Cedar City piano teacher JoAnn Jones at age 4. She also took violin lessons from Suzuki Strings instructor, Sara Penny. But piano has remained Sun’s first love and under the tutelage of her teachers and musical family, Sarah has found her great passion. Sarah’s father Xun Sun, is currently a professor at Southern Utah University and the director of the Orchestra of Southern Utah. Sun’s mother, Ling Yu, is also a musician pursuing a doctorate at the University of Utah.
In 2011, Sun was accepted to be a piano student with Dr. Irene Perry- Fox. Ling Yu was traveling twice a month with her daughter to Provo for her classes with Dr. Perry-Fox. So, when Yu was accepted for her doctorate at the University of Utah, Sun and her mother moved fulltime from Cedar to Salt Lake City. It was under the current direction of Dr. Perry-Fox that Sun prepared a demo and was selected to participate in the International Concerto Competition.
Yu says they miss Cedar City and remain grateful for the musical foundation Sun built here. “We really appreciate those teachers, they are very important for the kids,” Yu said.
Despite her highly musical family, Sun is self- motivated. Her mother says she practices anywhere from one to eight hours a day on the piano with an average of three hours a day. “My job is to ask her to take a rest,” Yu said. “She works very hard.”
Sun may still be only 16 years old, but her musical resume is already full of awards and solo performances in China and the United States. In China, she has soloed with the Henan Provincial Symphony, Hubei Provincial Symphony and Anhui Provincial Symphony. She has also soloed with the American Fork Symphony, the Southwest Symphony and three times with the Orchestra of Southern Utah. Some of her awards include first place at the UMTA Concerto Competition, two time first place at the Encore Keyboard Competition and first place at the Salt Lake Piano Competition.
Sun is also highly involved in debate in high school and recently won first place in a business debate competition. In her not so spare time, Sun uses her love of music to serve others. In the past she has helped her mother teach violin classes and she currently plays the piano every Sunday at Primary Children’s Hospital.
As for the future, Sun is keeping her options open. She says she wants to attend a university like Harvard. But her mom says she has lots of plans and changes them a lot. After all, she is only a junior in high school and her future is bright.