Most young musicians would be thrilled to perform at New York City’s prestigious Carnegie Hall just once, but 9-year-old San Marino resident Nathaniel Yue will be making his second appearance at the performing venue next month.
“I’m really nervous and excited,” he said.
This time, however, Nathaniel will have a solo cello performance.
Nathaniel is moving on to the winner’s recital for the American Protégé international musical competition on March 12 at Carnegie Hall, to perform with students from around the world. The Valentine Elementary School third-grader placed second for playing a cello piece in the International Romantic Music competition. Entrants had to submit a recording online of a romantic instrumental piece. Nathaniel submitted his entry in October.
“I’m really excited for him,” Nathaniel’s mom, Maggie Mar, said.
Mar said she viewed it as a difficult competition to win because it was open to children from all over the world.
Nathaniel studies cello at the Pascale Music Institute in South Pasadena with teacher Vardan Gasparyan. He has been a member of the Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra since 2012.
Gasparyan said Nathaniel is very bright.
“He is able to learn musical pieces and memorize them at an impressive speed,” he said. “He is very musical and has exceptional technical abilities for his age. I am one proud teacher to have Nathaniel as my student.”
Nathaniel began playing the cello at age 5 because he wanted to be like his older brother, Joshua, who plays the violin.
“I like the sound of the cello,” he said. “I got inspired by the orchestra that my brother was first in.”
Both Joshua and Nathaniel traveled to New York City and played at Carnegie Hall with the Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra in April 2013.
“The best part was we got to fly to New York and play at Times Square and visit the Apple store,” Nathaniel said. “I even got a lesson at Julliard from a cello student there.”
“They were one of the only elementary school orchestras invited,” Mar said.
Nathaniel said his favorite part of traveling to New York City is “eating the pizza.”
Last year, Nathaniel experimented with pop music when he played “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes on the cello with Valentine Elementary third-grader Julian Chiu, who played guitar. He also performed “Flashlight” and “Grownup Christmas List” as Valentine Elementary fifth-grader Chelsea Chiu sang at the Chinese School of San Marino’s Christmas Party.
During the summer, Nathaniel and his brother Joshua performed at a local Alzheimer’s daycare center for residents after Robert Gupta’s Street Symphony, which is put on for mentally ill and homeless people, inspired them.
Recent accolades include placing first in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers state solo concerto competition, second in the Los Angeles Violincello Society scholarship and second in the American String Teacher’s Association Los Angeles regional finals.
“The Minions,” a quintet Nathaniel belongs to, received “superior” and “command” performance ratings at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s ensemble competition.
“When I play the cello I feel happy,” Nathaniel said. “I really enjoy the fun pieces. My favorite piece is ‘Goltermann Concerto No. 4 in G major.’ It is challenging, and it makes me feel proud when I can make a hard part sound better.”