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Steve Lin, musical artist and educator

First Posted 09:42:00 02/08/2010

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?Frets on Fire? of the Arts Council Foundation Cebu Luthiers Education Foundation presented Steve Lin on the last week of January in Cebu, ahead of National Arts Month. The classical guitarist had performed in several places in the world.

Steve was described by Classical Guitar Magazine as ?a confident player with a powerful sound, quick hands, and a solid musical memory.? He won first prize in the East Carolina University Guitar Competition of 2001 and the Boston Guitar Fest of 2006.

Many of us from the University of the Philippines Cebu High School attended the concert. Cathy Rodel, our music teacher, noted his great skill and simplicity: ?One could feel the music moving from his heart to his fingers.?

Aurelio Vilbar, the Afro-Asian literature teacher, was impressed with Steve?s inclusion of Asian themes from traditional Chinese literature in a piece entitled ?A Journey into Desire.? He liked the idea that this Taiwan-born, US-educated young man let his Asian identity emerge. Au found the concert really exhilarating and very fresh.

Our high school juniors, Cathy?s guitar students, Maybe Aguillon, Ruby Amor Alipar, and Cleo Vanya Ruiz, loved the idea that Steve included the Cebuano melodies?Matud Nila? and ?Usahay.? They considered this as openness to a culture not his own. They were awed by his excellent guitar playing.

?I have never encountered a person so good in playing the guitar. He was amazing; his music was overwhelming,? said Ruby Amor.

I agreed with Aurelio about the freshness. Steve closed with a very unique presentation of the familiar ?Ave Maria? in a very exceptional new way.

I also agree with the students about Steve?s cultural openness and sensitivity. Steve?s recording manager is a Cebuano from Naga City. He encouraged Steve to come to Cebu to participate in the Sinulog Festival. So he did.

Steve Lin was a relaxed cultural tourist and a warm, wonderful guest. Being of Chinese ancestry, he did not stand out in the Sinulog crowd. He blended quickly and well in our Sinulog family gathering. He displayed enjoyment of the various dishes and discussed them with Manang Del. His Sinulog participation consisted of walking through the streets with Mary Rose as she acted as a contest judge for the best Sinulog site dcor.

In all these activities, Steve was such a no-fuss, easy-to-be-with companion. No complaints, no airs; just quiet appreciation.

Although ?Frets on Fire? had a printed program with detailed information on the selections, Steve chose to explain to the audience each piece that he played, with great earnestness. Perhaps that was to provide context and readiness for better appreciation of the music. With this feature I realized that Steve was a fantastic combination of artist and educator.

Steve Lin actually teaches guitar at the San Jose State University and is a guitar instructor at the Northern California School of Music and Canon Music School. The program also states that in addition to his work as concert guitarist, ?Steve is regularly engaged in community and educational concerts.?

Since he stayed the UP Cebu executive house when he came for the Sinulog, our high school juniors had the opportunity of meeting him. I was first anxious about the experience and wondered how this classical guitarist would deal with the adolescents.

But he was a hit among the teenagers. He started by narrating his experiences as a shy teenager. He chatted about being a person, about the need to practice and the importance of discipline for beauty and excellence. He not only played the guitar for them; he also invited volunteers to play the guitar.

Here?s what they say about the experience:

Nigel: He is really good in playing the guitar. It is clear that he really loves his music because he puts emotion in the songs he played.

Genevieve: Steve Lin?s lecture inspired me very much. I learned many things from the encounter, like letting your heart flow with the music. He did not only play the guitar magnificently but he also shared the importance of having determination in pursuing your dream. While he was playing the guitar, he was closing his eyes feeling every note and his body began to move with the music, too. I closed my eyes while he was playing the guitar and I cleared my mind and focused on his music. I had an unexplainable, heart-warming feeling. He is not just an excellent guitarist, but a magnificent and inspiring character as well.

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