Ruoyu (Roy) Li’s piano playing has been described as elegant, charismatic, and intense. Now the 16-year-old Old Scona Academic High student has added one more prestigious prize to his list of accolades.
Li won the Lyle Moore Scholarship valued at $1,000 from the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival. In addition to the adjudicator’s positive response, viewers will now see his work through Encore, a YouTube video stitched together from some of the festival’s best performances.
“I feel honoured to win. It shows how much work and dedication you put into it. And I am grateful to the festival for providing this opportunity for a scholarship,” said Li, who tirelessly practices daily.
Li has played piano for more than 10 years, beginning his studies in Vancouver before moving to Edmonton and studying under Wei He. He now studies with David Tutt, a piano instructor with the MacEwan Conservatory of Music.
For the Encore presentation, Li will perform Sergei Prokofiev’s Montagues and Capulets, a movement from 10 Pieces from Romeo and Juliet.
“It shows Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other. Musically there is a lot of character, and it is very diverse. And it is fun to play,” Roy said.
Mark Moran, festival director, noted the early 20th century Russian composition was an ideal choice for the scholarship recipient’s selection piece.
“Prokofiev has taken an orchestral arrangement and made it for piano. It’s always a challenge to take all the orchestral textures and make it into a piano piece. But he’s done it very well. It’s technically challenging and it gets the fight between the Montagues and Capulets going,” said Moran.
Encore, a live performance of selected recipients, is held annually at the Arden Theatre to celebrate aspiring musicians' successes and announce scholarship recipients.
In 2020, Encore was cancelled due to the pandemic. Last year organizers filmed many of the young performers, and edited scenes into a YouTube video. It received about 400 hits locally and across the country. This year, Pika Audio is once more invited to film diverse musicians for a grand finale.
In addition to Li's performance, Encore will highlight 10 additional acts. Pianists Aidan Lai and Marina Tinga will also tickle the ivories while Matthew Baba and Emma Creswell step up to the microphone with musical theatre selections.
Violinists Anika Valentine and Mattias Haydo create a conversation with Bach’s Concerto For Two Violons BMV 1043 1st Movement.
“It’s fun when you get two musicians playing together. They play off each other and it’s entertaining for the audience.”
In a rare guitar presentation, Nathaniel Wynton, 13, will perform two works: Trilogy and Lagrima.
“He had such a glowing recommendation on classical guitar, which is not often played by someone his age, that we decided to include him.”
The Cantilon Children’s Choir, headed by former St. Albert music director Heather Johnson, are also a much-anticipated act.
“I’m so excited to have them. We haven’t had a choir in the festival for more than a year. They’re all under 14 and they sing beautifully.”
As a special bonus, the Steel Pan Drum Band from High Level’s Notre Dame Collegiate has been touring Alberta and performed at the music festival. The 10-plus musicians featuring Trinidadian steel pan drums are expected to be a hit with online viewers.
The video will be downloaded on YouTube Thursday, April 28. Scholarship winners will also be announced that day. For up-to-date information visit the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival Facebook page or www.st-albertmusicfestival.ca.