Every weekend during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we'll be placing a ‘spotlight’ on our local aapi community. Our next feature will literally be music to your ears.
“I’m the youngest of three sisters, so growing up, music was all around me. I cannot remember life without music,” Stockdale High School senior and cellist, Anna Jian said.
Many kids may recall their parents putting them in some form of music lessons. Anna started playing piano at five years old. She says her parents may have bribed her with ice cream and prizes to keep going.
“I don’t think I generally started to appreciate it until I started cello in fifth grade. And at the beginning, I thought the big instrument was kind of cool,” Anna said. “There was a YouTube video, it was like a Star Wars Parody but they were using cello. They had lightsabers instead of bows. So, I thought it was pretty cool.”
She’s had a bow in her hand ever since:
The 17-year-old is the principal cellist at the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra and Stockdale High school Symphony Orchestra. She’s performed at Carnegie Hall, in New York and even Japan.
“Through it all I think the community we’ve built over time has been absolutely amazing,” Anna said. “We’ve made friends all around the world, and we have friends from Fresno, all the way to Japan.”
Anna has also received recognition at the regional and state level.
To name only a few: She’s been the 2018-2019 All-State Musician of California Orchestra Directors Association Symphony Orchestra, The 2019-2020 All-State Musician of the California All-State Music Education Conference Symphony Orchestra, and most recently she’s Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra’s 2021 Young Artist Competition winner.
She’ll be performing Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme as the one of two chief soloists at TSO’s spring concert Sunday at 4 p.m. (it will be livestreamed on their Facebook page). Music Director David Newby was a main judge for TSO’s young artist competition.
“We're always looking for the full package. We want someone that’s very polished technically, very expressive, very confident, and she fits the bill on all those accounts,” Newby said.
In her downtime, Anna teaches children piano and cello.
As for what’s next for this prodigy, she’ll be majoring in Neurobiology at UC Berkeley this fall and possibly studying music and joining their orchestra on the side. After all, she said music has always been there for her.
“Going from high school to college the change is really daunting, but overall music teaches you a lot of very important life lessons beyond music itself,” Anna said. “Like, when you’re practicing for something, you have to take apart the piece. In the same way, you can take apart whatever you’re working on in life.”