Conservatory alumna wins top prize

Angela Ryu placed first at the annual Shean Strings Competition

After two days of high-calibre competition, Advanced Performance Program alumna Angela Ryu took home the top prize at the 2019 Shean Strings Competition.

The nineteen-year-old competed against five highly skilled violinists at Muttart Hall in Edmonton in May. One of six finalists chosen from 25 entries, Ryu was ecstatic about the victory.

"It feels amazing! The Shean Strings Competition was a personal goal of mine since the beginning of the academic year and it really pushed me to work hard to prepare for it," Ryu says. "I am of course very happy and humbled by the results, but even more happy that I was able to produce the performances I wanted," she says.



Ryu began her musical studies at the age of five in New Denver, B.C., under the tutelage of Suzuki method and philosophy instructor Daphne Hughes. As her skills developed, Ryu was introduced to and performed for distinguished instructor of violin at Mount Royal University, Bill van der Sloot, who immediately identified Ryu's potential.

"Angela is a strong artist at a very high level," van der Sloot says.

In 2009, Ryu and her family moved east to Calgary to pursue violin studies at Mount Royal's Conservatory. Ryu had secured a full scholarship to the program and worked directly with van der Sloot.

"My time at the Mount Royal Conservatory was incredibly important towards my violin studies," Ryu says.

"The faculty and program taught me so much over the years, developing my musicianship and enabling me to later pursue my studies overseas. It gave me so many opportunities to perform for numerous international artists and the experience to pursue other opportunities outside of Calgary."

Ryu was enrolled in the Conservatory from 2009 to 2018. The investment was incredibly important to her success and she recognized van der Sloot for his guidance.

"Bill really helped me get to where I am today," Ryu says. "He not only was an incredible teacher for me, but was (and is) always so supportive of everything that I do. He challenged me to new heights, gave me so many wonderful opportunities and was one of my supporters in helping me pursue music as a lifelong career."

Ryu is still working to perfect her art. She has completed her first year of study at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She is working towards a Bachelor of Music. The four-year program is intended for students who wish to become professional musicians or further study music at the graduate level.

"Rice has very difficult admission requirements for foreign undergraduates and Angela did amazingly well in her auditions. She has become a consistently strong artist," van der Sloot says.

Ryu will begin her second year of studies at Rice in the fall and describes her experience at the University as absolutely amazing.

"I am learning so much from my current professor and every day feels so inspiring as I am surrounded by the other students who are incredibly talented and share the same passion for music as I do."

Ryu's first place win earned her $8,000. The cash will be put towards the cost of her schooling in Texas.

"It is definitely not easy being an international student, so the prize money I received will help lighten that load for me."

The win also earned Ryu the opportunity to perform with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on a date yet to be determined.

"Performing with an orchestra is not an event that is frequently given to young musicians, like myself, so I am incredibly honoured and excited to be given this opportunity to learn and grow as a musician."

Watch for a performance date on the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra website.


A lifelong passion for music and speech arts begins here.


June 12, 2019 — Rob Petrollini

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