Family Giving Tree is honored to have been chosen by Bay Area artists: cellist, Angeline Kiang, and pianist, Ryan Sheng as a nonprofit organization they are passionate about supporting. Through Notes For Nourishment Live Events, Angeline and Ryan will be bringing soothing sounds to our homes for a free virtual concert to support our mission.
We got the chance to interview the two talented, 16-year-old performers. Enjoy this fun Q&A to learn more about Angeline and Ryan, their backgrounds in music, what's next for their music careers, and details about their upcoming event.
(6 min. read)
Q: Tell us about yourself. What other hobbies do you have/what do you like to do for fun? What is something that people don't know about you?
Angeline: I enjoy cross-country running and baking! I also like to experiment with different calligraphy styles and used to have a study art blog for it.
Ryan: Aside from playing the piano, I spend most of my free time playing basketball. I also enjoy reading books. My favorite thing to do though is to spend time with my friends and family. Whether it's just talking, playing games, or just sitting around, I always feel at home with them.
Q: At what age did you start playing the cello (Angeline)/piano (Ryan)? When did you know it was something you loved to do?
Angeline: I started playing the cello at age 5, I knew I loved playing the cello while performing Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango! The rhythm of that piece is so vibrant and fun to play in the character of the tango.
Angeline Kiang performing Libertango by Astor Piazzolla.
Photo of Ryan Sheng (age 10).
Ryan: I started taking lessons on the piano when I was about 5 years old. My brother began to play the piano just as I was born, so it always seemed like a hobby to me. I realized that music was truly a part of my life in a small town in Italy when I was 10. When I was practicing one night, something suddenly just clicked with me. I understood that music expressed not just emotions, settings, thoughts, but a whole experience as well. I made it a goal to make myself be able to share with others what I felt that night.
Q: If you could learn to play another new instrument or have another talent (it could be anything), what would it be?
Angeline: I would want to be a figure skater or in another life, maybe even a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Ryan: If I could learn to play another instrument well, I would want to be good at the oboe. I learned how to play the oboe for my school ensemble, but I’m not the best at it. Not close to being the best at it. I think that the oboe sounds the closest to the human voice, which is like a tunnel to the soul.
Q: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Angeline: Don’t procrastinate, be disciplined--but find ways to enjoy the ride while working hard.
Ryan: My teachers in the past and present are some of the most important and supportive people in my life. They've really helped me grow as a person and spiritually through music. The best advice I’ve ever received is to imagine what the composer felt as they were writing the work. It’s not about being able to simply replicate what is written on the page, but it’s about embodying the feelings, experience, and essence that the composer wanted to share with us through their writing.
Q: What is your current favorite music/artists to listen to?
Angeline: Other than classical music, I really enjoy listening to Bossa nova and Korean RnB.
Ryan: I like taking inspiration from and exploring all kinds of music. My favorite composers are Liszt, Schumann, and Chopin. Besides classical music, some artists I listen to include David Bowie, Coldplay, and Kendrick Lamar.
Ryan Sheng plays Liszt Vallée d'Obermann at Emory University, 2019.
Q: Tell us about some of your competitions or performances.
Angeline: One of my most memorable performances was my solo orchestral debut, playing at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. It was my first time performing in such a historic venue. In May 2019, my piano trio and I went to South Bend, Indiana, to compete in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. My experience at Fischoff was so surreal, and I was especially excited to perform our contemporary selection, the first movement of the Jalbert Piano Trio. It was such a contrasting piece to our program, and my first time playing any piece written after 1975.
Angeline (left) at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competiton.
Ryan: My favorite charity event that I’ve done in the past was a concert that I organized with some friends right before Christmas in 2018. We invited many young performers in the Bay Area to come and play for an audience who helped raise $1,500 dollars to support California wildfire victims and local music foundations. It felt great to have so many people coming together to work for the same cause of helping others.
Q: How did you first get involved with Notes for Nourishment? What do you enjoy most about their mission and their virtual events (especially during this time)?
Angeline: During the pandemic, my friends and I wanted to help support our local community however we could by organizing and performing fundraisers for Marin Food Bank. Notes for Nourishment was able to provide us with such an amazing platform to reach an audience beyond our families and music community. I love their mission of artists donating their time for their choice of a good cause.
Photo of Angeline baking cupcakes at home.
Ryan: I think Notes for Nourishment is a great organization that allows young musicians to use their talent to support their communities. It does a really great job of bringing people to a common cause, especially when right now it's hard to have events that get everybody together. One of the special things about Notes for Nourishment is that it allows the performers to choose which foundations and causes they want to support.
Photo of Ryan (right) with his brother.
Q: What do you want to say to those reading this about the Notes for Nourishment Event happening on the 18th?
Angeline: I’m so excited to be playing in this concert with my pianist, Kim Lee! We will be playing Dvorak Silent Woods and Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations. Please tune in at 1pm on October 18th and join Ryan and me virtually!
Ryan: The Notes for Nourishment Event happening on the 18th will be an hour long performance live on Youtube. All donations will go to the Family Giving Tree and their cause. Our mission is to help all families and kids in our communities to be well equipped for success. We hope you will join us and we look forward to seeing you there!
Q: Why is Family Giving Tree's mission important to you?
Angeline: During my middle school years, every Christmas, I would pick out presents for the Family Giving Tree’s Holiday Drive. It was so meaningful to contribute to the FGT community through simple acts that could bring joy to one child. I love how Family Giving Tree strives to make the world and future a better place by empowering kids through giving.
Ryan: Family Giving Tree’s mission really hit home with me because I realized how much it affected communities so close to my home. In the Bay, there are so many kids that aren’t able to afford the proper materials for their education. I really hope to be able to help the families around me, and the Family Giving Tree provides us with this opportunity.
Q: What are some things you are looking forward to in your music career?
Angeline: I am looking forward to continuing to grow as an artist, and making and sharing music with as many people as I can!
Ryan: In the future, I hope that I continue to share my music and to help others experience what music has done for me. I also hope to let others see the beauty I found in music that can really change the way you see life.
Please join us this Sunday, 10/18 at 1 pm. The concert is free to watch and donations are welcome. All proceeds will go to Family Giving Tree to empower those in our community. To tune in, please visit NotesForNourishment.org for a live link prior to the event.
The Family Giving Tree envisions a world where Giving brings joy, offers hope and opens possibilities. By inspiring community kindness, generosity, and volunteerism, The Family Giving Tree fulfills exact holiday wishes and provides backpacks filled with STEAM-based school supplies to those in need. Click here to learn more.