Healing Arts musician Kevin Hu profiled in Naperville Sun.
Student earns honors for talent in music and math
September 6, 2010
By KATHY MILLEN
A year away from college, Kevin Hu isn't sure what his future holds. But he already has a resumé that should provide a good launching pad to wherever he wants to go.
For an audio file that accompanies Five Questions about young violinist Kevin Hu, visit napersun.com
Hu, 16, a senior at Naperville Central High School, is both a musician and a mathematician who has won numerous honors in both fields. He began playing violin when he was 6. He is a volunteer with Edward Hospital's Healing Arts program, which brings live music and original artwork to the hospital for patients, their families and hospital staff. He also has organized and performed in fundraising concerts to support local charities.
Classically trained, Hu recently was among 20 young people named a 2010 Davidson Fellow for his accomplishments in music. His portfolio, which earned him a $10,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, included music previously repressed by political regimes. He also performs in small ensembles and, since 2004, has been a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Because of his interest in competition and research mathematics, he was one of 46 math and science students in the country selected to participate in the 27th annual Research Science Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. The program gave him the opportunity to work on a complex mathematical problem with top scientists at colleges in the Boston area.
He is the son of Zack and Lily Hu of Naperville.
1. What does your music mean to you?
A few years ago, I founded an organization called "acoustics" which is a volunteer high school musical therapy group ... a subset of the Healing Arts Department. So since then, we have over 20 members now, not actually all high school kids. Some of them are now junior high because kids are actually very enthusiastic about this. It motivates them to practice, and it's a performance opportunity for them and it's lots of exposure for them. But it's also a two-way exchange of inspiration between both the audience members and the musicians who are involved. I feel that music is not just an expression. Expression makes it kind of seem one way. But the reaction and the response from the audience is almost as important, if not more.
2. Would you want to play for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra someday?
It would be a dream to work with the members from the Chicago Symphony. But the music world is hard.
3. When did you discover you had a flair for math?
That is my main field of interest. I started being interested in math in fourth grade when we were doing different kinds of word problems. I just found I liked solving problems. So I asked my dad, who's a good mathematician, I asked him to teach me a little bit more and I got interested in contest math. I spent most of my junior high and high school career in math just doing contest math, like our state math team contest and different individual contests as well. I had my first research experience this summer.
4. What's it like being so smart?
Compared to other people I know or heard of, I'm not that exceedingly smart. It's sometimes very tiring, I guess, because there's a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations. But it's very gratifying to know that people have that kind of faith in you. In the end, the most important thing, I think, is to have faith in yourself. Because if you don't have faith in yourself, that stress becomes overbearing.
5. Have you always had this work ethic?
I think it's developed over the years. To be completely honest, I wasn't a fan of practicing when I was a kid. Practicing was a chore. But I think my current violin teacher, Cyrus Forough, I think that he has been very inspiring. He basically told me practicing shouldn't be viewed as a chore. It's kind of like research. You are exploring something and seeing if there is any way at all to make it sound a little bit better. It's kind of like sculpture, I guess. It's very easy to get a rough approximation. But the real profundity of it comes from all the tiny work you do and all the meticulous things. I know that applies to the violin. Because playing a piece and getting the notes is not horribly difficult compared to actually interpreting it and having it be a very moving piece. And that applies to research, music and I think, a lot of aspects of life.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services