Ask any musician, and they’ll have a great story to tell about a particularly memorable performance experience. It might be laugh-worthy, cry-worthy, or a little of both. Why do these stories intrigue us? Do we love drama? Is it the notion of someone overcoming the worst situation to come out victorious in the end? Musicians have to overcome the odds all the time. They encounter normal everyday stressors like the rest of us but have to pull themselves together regularly and not let on to the audience that anything in their day went less than perfect. No matter what, they’re still expected to come out and put on an excellent performance, but some days are full of more challenges than others.
Here is Roshie Xing’s story:
“Looking back, this is kind of a funny story. Anyone who spends more than a few minutes with me knows that I have a very perfectionist, type A personality that intensifies whenever in a high-stakes situation…like a concerto competition. So, after rehearsal [the day before the competition] and after finishing up my homework, I decided to do one (or three) last run-throughs of the Doppler, just to make sure that I had everything under my fingers. In the middle of what I had promised myself to be my last repetition, I noticed that my C# pinky key wasn’t coming back up. It’s a critical key, so I began to get worried. My screws were all screwed in, all the springs seemed to be in place, so I was flummoxed about how to fix the problem. I still don’t know what happened to my instrument! I texted with Jenny [Roshie’s flute teacher and Pittsburgh Symphony member] back and forth for about an hour as we tried to fix the problem, but I think that I just made the problem worse. School knowledge does not equate to instrument-fixing abilities! We finally planned for me to use Jenny’s spare flute–which was locked away at Heinz Hall–and hope for the best. I also cried more than a bit and contemplated just giving up and not competing. But I couldn’t do that.
The next morning, I woke up with the attitude that everything would be okay. I had practiced a piece that I loved for more than a year, and however I played at the competition would be just a snapshot in the timeline of my musical experiences, not a defining moment. An hour before my audition, I picked up my flute from Rhian Kenny, [Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Piccolo] who was gracious enough to grab it from Jenny’s locker because Jenny was feeling under the weather and spent the next half hour before the audition getting adjusted to the flute. Walking into my audition, I took a couple of deep breaths, ran through the first few bars in my head, and just told myself to play. Ignore the chaos and worry about my flute, avoid distracting eye contact with the judges, and simply play the music. So, I did.”
It’s a good thing Roshie didn’t give up! Despite performing on an unfamiliar instrument, Roshie won the competition. (This would be like finding out the day before your driver’s license test that you’d be taking it in a Chevy Malibu after practicing in a Toyota Prius and passing with flying colors. Imagine parallel parking!) She’ll be performing Doppler’s Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise, Op.26 with TRYPO’s Young Peoples Orchestra at Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland on May 12, 2019.
“The main thing that I learned from this experience is that you can always get back up when you fall down. Cliché, I know, but also actually pretty true. Things happen at the most inopportune of times, and it’s almost as if there’s some sort of evil mastermind making all of these things go wrong at the worst times! But I can’t stress enough how important it is to take some time and process this pain, because you can and should cry a little when bad things happen, but you need to also use it as motivation to move forward.” Wise words from the North Allegheny Senior High School senior. Roshie has played flute for eight years now and currently studies with Jennifer Steele of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “She’s a joy to study from, a constant encouraging presence behind me who helps me improve by focusing on every detail, pushing me to play my best and who inspires me to play with heart.”
Roshie became a member of Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras (TRYPO) in her sophomore year. “This is my third year and the best, in my opinion (although TRYPO’s Concert Tour of Central Europe made last year a close second) …I’m so incredibly grateful that I’ll be able to end my time at TRYPO this way. These past three years have been such a wonderful time of discovery and community and pushing my limits, and I am honored to have been chosen to play a piece that I love with a group that holds a special place in my heart.”
We are honored to have Roshie as one of our amazing members. She is a perfect example of dedication, resilience, and heart. Congratulations, Roshie!
Roshie Xing Biography
Roshie Xing is a current senior at North Allegheny Senior High School who studies with Jennifer Steele. Born in balmy California, she has lived in Pittsburgh for four years and enjoyed every minute of the city, its people, and the multitude of doors that it has opened for her. Although she has played the piano since age 5, it was only by chance that she took up the flute. The summer before fifth grade, her flute-playing cousin handed Roshie her old, battered flute and, after hours of futilely blowing with nothing to show for it but a headache, she finally made a sound and was transfixed by the instrument. Since those fateful days, she has attended various PMEA festivals, plays as principal flute for her high school musical’s pit orchestra, and has been a member of TRYPO for three years. She would like to express her appreciation here for her cousin, parents, flute teacher, band teachers, and TRYPO staff/YPO members for listening to her play even on her bad days and for being such a wonderful support system.
Outside of the concert hall, Roshie can be found negotiating nuclear disarmament as the captain of her school’s Model UN team, frantically typing her next piece as a politics/current events columnist for her school’s student newspaper, scribbling down poem verses, lobbying for legislation as a student ambassador for the NGO Save the Children, or just curled up with a good book. She intends to study mathematics and economics in college and eventually work in economic policy, either in the private sector as a think tank researcher or for the government, but she will most assuredly also continue playing the flute, because music and the community of fellow artists and friends that it has brought have been and will remain an integral part of her life.