Redmond’s key master: Christopher Lu to perform at national piano competition

Redmond's Christopher Lu is headed to New Mexico next month as one of seven national finalists in the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) Junior Piano Competition. The eighth grader practices piano about 15 hours a week but also loves Xbox 360

Redmond resident Christopher Lu is heading to Albuquerque, N.M. in March to compete as one of seven national finalists in the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) Junior Piano Competition.

An eighth grade student in the PRISM (gifted) program at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Lu earned the spot at nationals by first winning top honors at the state level of MTNA, then at the regional competition in Portland.

He took up piano eight years ago, although he seemed to be mesmerized by music at a much earlier age. His maternal grandma often played for him from the time he was six months old, “and she always said he was such an easy baby,” his mom, Mei Lu remarked.

Chris currently studies piano with Dr. Peter Mack, professor of music performance at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts. And he recently made a debut with the University of Puget Sound Orchestra under the direction of Christophe Chagnard.

When we met at his home recently, Chris appeared very much the typical teen — one who loves Xbox 360 and Wii. He said he also likes ping-pong, badminton and playing the cello.

But talking about the piano, which he practices about 15 hours a week, Chris stated, “Once you start, you can’t really stop. You get addicted to the sound.”

Listening to him play, one indeed could get easily addicted to the sound. His talent is formidable.

And what truly sets Chris apart from other young performers, said Mack, is his way of capturing emotion when he plays.

“We talk about conveying the emotions that the composer was trying to convey,” Mack explained. “He understands the emotion so well, he doesn’t sound like everyone else.”

When playing a piece by Bach or Chopin, or even a living composer, how does the youngster interpret their emotions so well?

“I listen to how professionals play it,” Chris modestly responded.

“His teacher can guide him, too,” said Mei.

We asked Chris if playing piano is an emotional release for him, as well — for instance, if he’s feeling stressed.

“It is,” he said. “When I’m frustrated, piano helps me think better, clears my mind.”

And what do his peers or other teachers think of his musical prowess and his willingness to practice a lot?

“My friends may think I’m a little crazy,” Chris laughed, “but teachers can be amazed or want to accelerate my accomplishments.”

On the trip to Albuquerque, Chris will be accompanied by his parents and his younger brother Alex, an equally gifted piano student, according to Mack.

What about goals after the MTNA Junior Piano Finals?

“I want to always keep piano as a hobby,” said Chris. “I want to play ‘Islamey’ by Balakirev, a very hard piece. Maybe do some out-of-region competitions or maybe do service hours … and then became a lawyer or financial advisor.”

More in Life

For veterans, there’s no better cause to push than helping other vets

Jim Curtis and Mark Gorman are two of many veteran advocates on the Eastside.

Fairwinds-Redmond to honor veterans

WWII veterans Morten Joslin and Nick Nichols share their stories.

Alejandro, 6, and Elizabeth, 8, Camacho from Woodinville with their sugar skulls at the Día de los Muertos event on Nov. 2 at the Centro Cultural Mexicano in Redmond. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Redmond celebrates Día de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead event celebrates the lives of departed loved ones.

In 1967 Nokomis Club of Redmond sponsored a tea at the local branch of the King County Library system to commemorate National Library Week. Photo courtesy of Redmond Historical Society Facebook
110 years of community investment

The Nokomis club celebrates their 110th Anniversary.

Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s Reaching Out luncheon Oct. 21. From left: Queen Latifah, luncheon chairs Lynne Varner and Paul Hollie, and Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas. Madison Miller/staff photo
Queen Latifah headlines Hopelink’s annual fundraiser

Hopelink raised about $1.15 million at the annual fundraiser.

Green Redmond Day is on Oct. 26. Photo courtesy of Alex Christians
Plant trees to celebrate Green Redmond Day

Planting events will take place at numerous park sites on Oct. 26.

Spectators gather for Redmond’s traditional “Thrill the World” event. Photo courtesy of Jessica Morgan/Redmond Town Center
Eastside Halloween roundup

Family-friendly seasonal events throughout the Eastside.

The Nightmare at Beaver Lake runs through Oct. 31. Take a scary stroll through Beaver Lake Park, 2600 244th Ave. SE, Sammamish. Courtesy image
Nightmare at Beaver Lake continues through Oct. 31

The Nightmare at Beaver Lake is back. Experience one of the Northwest’s… Continue reading

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photos 
                                Max Shegnagaev (fourth from left) had a birthday wrestling bash for his tenth birthday at city hall on Oct. 6.
10-year-old boy has wrestling birthday bash at Redmond City Hall

Nearly 30 professional wrestlers came to Max Shegnagaev’s 10th birthday.

From left, Gabrielle Chai, Ian Wood and Emma Robinson of Eastide Catholic School were named semifinalists in the National Merit scholarship program. Courtesy photo
Redmond’s Chai named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist

Eastside Catholic announces National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

From left, Reva Galande, Mihir Limaye, Amol Rane, and Ahana Ranade prepare for the fancy dress competition part of Deepmala. Photo courtesy of Yash Limaye
New Diwali celebration for kids comes to the Eastside

Deepmala will be Oct. 20 at Eastside Bahá’í Center.

Fall back into a healthier you

A monthly column by an Eastside naturopathic doctor.