Tiffany Hsu, 15, has studied with Mariné Ter-Kazaryan since 2018. In 2020, at the age of 12, she performed in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, singing “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, “Memory” from Cats, and an aria from a Peking opera.
She has continued to perform and compete nationally, and has participated in several master classes with esteemed musicians like Elissa Johnston and René Barbera.
This spring, Tiffany was one of two Grand Prize winners in the Classical Voice category of LA Music Center Spotlight Awards and received a $5,000 cash prize. On Thursday, June 8, Tiffany, along with the other Grand Prize winners, performed at the Spotlight Grand Finale held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. She sang “Il Mio Bel Foco” by Benedetto Marcello.
Immediately preceding her performance, the Spotlight Awards shared a pre-recorded interview with Tiffany (transcript provided below).
I fell in love with opera as a child because I really loved listening to it and the sound that these singers make, and how they hold themselves, is very intriguing to me. What I like about singing opera is that when I sing, I feel a sense of euphoria; like my heart is being set free. I also really love pushing my limits and figuring out how to sing the high notes the way I want them to sound.
One of the challenging things about being a classical artist is that sometimes you sing in many different languages and a lot of us don’t know those languages by heart. So to express what you’re trying to sing, acting is very important to get my message across about what the song is about.
Something I’ve had to overcome was being bullied and made fun of for my culture. Being attacked for your culture is something that makes you feel like you want to hide, but I’ve gotten to the place I am now through music. Music really helps me have a form of escapism; it kind of just makes you see the world in different ways.
I do think over the years humanity as a whole has gotten a lot better about how we treat different races and about accepting people. Something positive is that schools and institutions are putting in the effort to make sure that different cultures and indigenous groups are being heard and recognized. However, I still think that we have a long way to go.
When I’m not singing I love going to the beach and swimming with sharks. I know it sounds odd, swimming with creatures people know are dangerous, but swimming in the deep blue sea is something that really calms my heart. I also love researching quantum physics. Quantum physics is a very cool intersection between philosophy and science; I think it’s very intriguing to study that.
When I found out I was a Spotlight Grand Prize Finalist I was kicking and screaming in bed. Spotlight really means a big opportunity for me and my family. I feel really lucky and privileged and proud of myself for being able to make it to this alumni.
Read more about Tiffany in this feature that appeared in Pasadena Weekly in May. Below, you can enjoy her performance of “Lascia ch’io pianga” by Handel, from the Vocal Arts Department Recital in December 2022; accompanied on piano by her teacher, Ms. Ter-Kazarayan.