Mingyuan Yang, a 19-year-old from Zhengzhou, China, was named the world’s top young bassoonist at the 2013 International Double Reed Society Young Artist Competition, held at the society’s 44th annual international conference at the University of the Redlands in California.
Yang, a WMU School of Music student, was one of three finalists in the competition for musicians under 22. The two other finalists were students at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Yang says when it was announced that he had won. “I thought I was not as qualified. It was highly competitive.”
Yang chose to study at WMU, thanks in part to a connection his home bassoon instructor has with WMU. His instructor’s sister had studied in Kalamazoo, and he recommended Yang do the same.
Dr. Gwendolyn Rose, professor of music, met Yang while on a performance tour through China, and she recognized his potential. She worked with College of Fine Arts officials to arrange scholarships and an audition via Skype to bring Yang to WMU.
“Dr. Rose is a great teacher,” Yang says. “Western has a very beautiful campus. There’s more space. And it’s more relaxed here—not so crowded like China.”
As a youngster, Yang played the saxophone, and when he excelled at it, his parents urged him to pursue music as a profession. Because the educational opportunities for saxophone were somewhat limited at Chinese conservatories, he switched to bassoon. The United States offers even more performance opportunities for Yang, since the bassoon is a Western instrument.
Yang hopes to one day teach bassoon as a university professor and perform part time in an orchestra. For now, he’s glad he chose music and WMU as a place to study.
“Music gives me a feeling of achievement,” he says.