Timeline: My First 20 Years

  • 1986
    I looked like Kelsey Grammer as a baby. With mom (molecular biologist) and dad (chemical engineer) in Daejon, South Korea.
  • 1987
    Age 1. My first picture with a keyboard! 
  • 1990
    Age 4. The picture was taken in Dortmund, Germany. I was visiting my dad while he was working there as a chemical engineer. This is about the time I started to take piano lessons from my aunt. 
  • 1991
    Age 5 during my first recital. I loved my fluffy gown. To this day, I remember it had 8 tutu layers.
  • 1992
    Age 6. Playing the violin at the Suzuki Conference. I was a proud member of the violin section through junior high + high school orchestra.
  • 1994
    Posing for the camera before my recital in my aunt's Suzuki school stage. Check out my custom made shoes that coordinate perfectly with my outfit. 
  • 1994
    My very first chamber music performance! Two violins and a piano. We made an excellent trio. 
  • 1995
    The meeting changed everything. I auditioned to study with Veda Kaplinsky. My family was shocked when she asked "When can you move to the states?" From the left: Veda Kaplinsky, Helen Huang (making her debut with the NY Philharmonic later that evening), my mom, my aunt (my first piano teacher), and me. 
  • 1995
    At Cherry Hill, NJ at the home of Veda Kaplinsky after the very first lesson with my teacher-to-be for the next 12 years. 
  • 1997
    Age 11. Moved to Stony Brook, NY with my mom. That's how I got off the school bus each day! 
  • 1998
    It's a good thing I didn't become a dancer. With my friend Ashley on the piano. Stony Brook, NY. 
  • 1999
    The day before my 13th birthday. After my debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Prokofiev's 3rd piano concerto. With my parents in the Academy of Music.
  • 1999
    1999 was an epic year for me. During the conductor/soloist session with Leonard Slatkin before a performance with the Juilliard Orchestra. This was one of the most serious conversations I have ever had as a kid. 
  • 1999
    Christine Baranski giving me a bouquet of flowers after my performance with the Juilliard Orchestra (Prokofiev 3 with Leonard Slatkin) Shortly after, Kevin Kline (co-hosting the event with Christine Baranski) knelt down to give me a kiss on my hand. I was a cool 13 year old, I tell 'ya.
  • 2001
    With Dad in the Kennedy Center before my debut with the National Symphony.
  • 2001
    Moments after arriving at the Kennedy Center to play Saint-Saens 2nd Piano Concerto with the National Symphony. 
  • 2002
    Post Performance in Daejon, Korea. I always request 100 comp tickets when I play in Korea.
  • 2003
    With my friends at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival. I went there six summers in a row.
  • 2005
    My "Shark" picture from the preliminary round of the Cliburn Competition. This was taken during Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise.
  • 2005
    RIP Van. Shaking Van Cliburn's hand at the semi-finalist announcement. 
  • 2005
    Big smiles with the Takacs String Quartet after the rehearsal of Dvorak Piano Quintet. All semi-finalists got to perform with the Takacs Quartet. It was truly a dream come true.
  • 2005
    With my teacher Veda Kaplinsky moments after the finalists' announcement. "I'm in the top 6!"
  • 2005
    Walking out to greet the audience after I became the Twelfth Van Cliburn Competition Silver Medalist. Beginning of a wild roller coaster.