Young musicians perform on campus

Dr. Kexi Liu - Director of the Suzuki Violin Academy

Dr. Kexi Liu – Director of the Suzuki Violin Academy

Nearly 150 youthful music prodigies will be displaying their talents at Missouri Southern.

The 14th-annual Suzuki String Festival will be held from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday in Webster Hall auditorium. The event will feature violin, piano and vocal students ranging in age from five years old to high school seniors.

Dr. Kexi Liu, director of Suzuki Violin Academy and associate professor of music at Southern, said while the event is not a competition per se, students will be working toward achieving a good rating.

“A student will be competing with himself or herself, because a judge will give a rating on his or her performance,” Liu said. “Also, the first place winner out of the high school seniors group will go to the festival at the state level.”

Liu, who started the festival in 1992 upon his arrival at Southern, has an extensive background in violin, including a 10-year tenure as the first violinist of the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra, one of the major orchestras in China. Throughout his life, he has taught violin at colleges, universities and schools both public and private.

“I have played the violin for a long time,” Liu said.

Liu said the festival has grown tremendously since its inception 14 years ago.

“The first year of the festival, we had about 20 violin students performing,” he said. “Last year, we added piano students and this year we’ll have, for the first time, some vocal students. This year, we’ll have about 150 students performing.”

Liu said the festival provides valuable knowledge for the participating students, as well as publicity for Southern and the music department.

“The festival provides encouragement to the students to learn music,” Liu said. “It also provides students an opportunity to perform and be judged, which is valuable experience for students who may participate in other festivals and competitions. It is also an opportunity to present the University to them.”

Liu elaborated on the reward system the festival offers the participants.

“Participating students will earn points, depending on the rating of their performance,” Liu said. “For every 15 points a student earns, the student will get a Gold Cup. It usually takes three to four years to earn 15 points. For seniors, if they win at the state level, they may win some scholarships.”

LaDawn Hathaway, senior Psychology major, said the festival is a great example of the diverse programs Southern attracts.

“I think the more different things you can get on campus, the better,” Hathaway said. “It really shows the diverse interests of the campus community, as well as the unity people have when supporting an event like this.”

Hathaway said she was planning on attending the event, but extenuating circumstances will prevent it.

“If I could be there, I would,” Hathaway said.

Liu said the festival, which is open to the public, is an important event for the public to attend.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.

“Music should be included in the education of anyone,” Liu said. “The festival is a promotion of music. Come to the festival and support our students.”