Fu taking well-deserved break

Jan Garrison

Wins concerto competition 


May 14, 2021

You can’t blame Haotong (Mark) Fu ’22 for cutting back on his schedule a little bit. He’s had a full plate most of his second-class year at Culver Academies.

His academic schedule includes three Advanced Placement classes. As a member of Troop B, he spent the fall and winter practicing for the virtual “Parade Across America” that aired nationwide during the presidential inauguration.

Then on Feb. 13, he took first place in the Symphony of the Lakes Young Artist Competition in nearby Warsaw, Indiana. It is the first time a Culver Academies student has entered the competition, said Sharon Burke, an associate music instructor at the boarding school. Burke recommended Fu for the competition and helped him prepare. He played the first movement of “Piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major” by Joseph Haydn.

Winning the competition not only provided Fu with a scholarship, it also gave him the opportunity to perform with the orchestra on April 17. While he has played in other public venues and with ensembles before, it was his first time with a full orchestra.

“I wasn’t super-nervous,” he said. “But I really had to listen to what they were doing since we were playing at the same level – faster or slower.”


Mark Fu and instructor Sharon Burke.


Preparations for the live performance included meeting with the SOTL conductor, Dr. Ardis Faber, who came to Culver and listened to him play. Fu said Faber talked about making eye contact with each other during the performance for any cues. Fu also had one rehearsal with the orchestra before the performance. “That helped me relax.”

He also practiced with Burke, who played the orchestra side on her piano, during the time between the competition and the performance. He has been playing the piece since last summer in preparation for the competition.

From Chengdu, China, Fu has been playing the piano since age four. While living in Canada, he passed the Royal Conservatory of Music’s level 9 exam and he is planning to attain his level 10 certification in the near future.

Fu said he gave up playing for a couple of years during middle school but started again in the eighth grade. He started working with Burke when he came to Culver his fourth-class year.

He normally practices three times per week. But as his three AP exams approached, he reduced his schedule to twice a week so he could prepare for those. But following this short break, Fu said, he will “definitely” be back playing again.

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