As winner after winner was called in the Young Artists Competition, an annual event in the Charlotte area, Victoria Pan waited anxiously.
Was it over?
Her violin, a constant companion since she was 8, was at her side. All those years of lessons and performance. At 12, this was one of the biggest competitions of her life - 56 girls competing - almost an entire day of piano and violin. Victoria was disconsolate.
"No way I'm gonna win," she thought.
Never miss a local story.
Then, a few seconds later, this announcement: "The Junior Grand Prize winner is Victoria Pan!"
She was ecstatic. Her mother, Violet Pan, a well-known violin teacher in Tega Cay and Charlotte, was overwhelmed.
"Oh my gosh, I don't believe it!" she yelled.
Applause rang out.
Other violinists came up to embrace her. Victoria didn't know it at the time, but the award includes a $200 cash prize and the soloist's chair with the senior Charlotte Symphony's last concert of the season May 21. And since she won the competition there was another honor. At the Charlotte Symphony's youth orchestra finale concert this spring, Victoria was awarded the $250 Luski-Gorelick Scholarship "for outstanding musical achievement and commitment" to the youth orchestra program in Charlotte.
Victoria's talent runs in the family. Her grandmother, Sui Fen Yin, was an opera singer in China and her grandfather, He Xiao-Shen, was a composer and conductor there. Her father, George Pan, strums guitar as a hobby. At 15, her mother was the youngest of three women to win a national competition to study and play at the Central China Opera House in Beijing, touring the country with its prestigious two companies. At 21 she emigrated to America for more freedom and opportunity, continuing her education in New York. After moving to Charlotte, she wed George Pan and was successful with the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming its concert mistress. Here in Tega Cay, she teaches violin and her orchestra performs in community events.
At 2, Victoria played with a toy violin, At 4, she learned piano and at eight fell in love with her first stringed instrument, the violin. In a short time, she performed, with her mother conducting and 20 other violin students, in concerts in Fort Mill and Rock Hill. Victoria gained prestige by playing with Charlotte symphony youth orchestras. Now she's going into her fourth year with the youth orchestra; Every year she is required to audition for a seat in the orchestras. Last year, she was named honorable mention in the same competition she won this year. For her solo with the senior symphony May 21 she will play Mozart's Concerto in G at Central Piedmont Community College.
"She's very talented and works very hard, a combination of both," said one of her teachers, Dr. Ernest Pereira, conductor of the Charlotte Symphony's youth orchestras.
"You're not going to get anywhere if you don't have both. She's very accomplished for her age. Obviously, she is one of the best ones in that age group. She is a very good performer. She performs well to teaching, has a great attitude."
Janna Conner, Victoria's tutor in seventh grade home school, praised her work as well.
"Victoria is one of the brightest students I've taught," she said. "She's so talented in everything she does. She always works very hard and has a great attitude."
Continuing her journey to excellence, if not a career, her plan after graduation from Fort Mill High School is to get a scholarship to The Julliard School in New York. Another interest is tennis, playing with friends and family, especially her brother, Gregory, 8. Her teacher of five years, tennis professional Ren Marcinkowska, said Victoria has "made great improvement."
Victoria is working diligently to learn Chinese at the Charlotte Chinese Academy in Charlotte, where her mother teaches. She practices an hour to 90 minutes daily and limits video games to weekends.
For information about Charlotte Symphony's concert at CPCC's Halton Theater, call 704-330-6534.