By David Li, bostonese.com
George Li, sitting in front of the piano at his home in Lexington, Mass, smiled at my camera. With three acceptance letters from Harvard, Yale and Juilliard next to each other on the piano, who wouldn’t smile. Less than two years ago, George Li worried about passing through all the security check points to perform at a State Dinner in the White House for President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Now, he must decide which top school he will attend this Fall by May 1.
On the morning of March 31, I had an interview with George Li at his home. He was leaving for George for an upcoming concert that afternoon. He told me that he received email notification from Harvard University about his admission to class of 2017 on March 28, and the acceptance package in the mail two days later.
George Li had already received acceptance letters from Yale University and Juilliard School. He was also notified over the phone about his admission to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia earlier that week. With admissions to all top four top schools he had applied, George Li wrote yet another chapter in the legendary story of a young pianist.
When it comes to how he would decide on which schools, George Li said that each school has its own advantages. “I like the rich cultures of Boston and New York, and I know several famous piano professors at Juilliard School. Harvard or Yale can give me a more comprehensive education. I wanted to apply for the New England Conservatory (NEC), so I applied joint Harvard-NEC program,” said George Li.
It is reported that the Harvard-NEC joint program admits only five top music talents each year. Curtis Institute of Music is one of the most famous conservatories in the world, and superstar pianist Lang Lang graduated from Curtis. George Li thanked his parents and three teachers: Jingchun Yang, Prof. Wha-Kyung Byun of NEC and top Chinese pianist Mr. Yin Chengzong for their love and support.
George Li mentioned that there were much more materials to prepare while applying for Harvard and Yale than applying for Juilliard and Curtis. “I had audition at Juilliard on March 4, and audition at Curtis on March 8.” George Li mentioned that the audition was the focal point for the music school while Harvard and Yale place required more rigorous academic records and multiple essays.
“I listed fund-rasing concert at Clark Middle School in Lexington back when I was in middle school, and the Music for Food charity concert with Asian Cultural Center Greater Boston Asian American Youth Symphony Orchestra (GBAAYSO) in Lexington last year among my extracurricular activities on my application form,” George Li replied when I asked details on his application forms.
Jian Li, father of George Li, told me that the last answer George Li gave to the panel during the interview at Yale University gave the panel deep impression. When asked anything else he would like to share with the panel, George Li answered: “modesty is one of my strengths because my parents told me that you can always find a teacher among any three people on the street.”