Texas Tech University

Johnathan Wu

Johnathan Wu

TTUISD Student Joins Legacy of Nationally Recognized Artists

Johnathan Wu was recognized by the National Young Arts Foundation in the spring of 2017, a rare and distinguished honor.

by Lucy Worley

June 1, 2017

The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) offers a prestigious award that most artists only dream of receiving. Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) student, Johnathan Wu has seen that dream come true.

A violinist of 15 years, Wu was recognized in the classical music category by the YoungArts committee this year.

The application-based award is given to emerging artists ages 15-18 from across the United States. Winners represent the top 8.67% of applicants. 

After submitting a challenging yet exemplary audition comprised of Prokofiev, Beethoven, Bach and Ysaye, Wu discovered he had been selected as a recipient of the YoungArts award in the spring of 2017.

While now on the other side of this monumental achievement, the road Wu has traveled has not been without its changes and sacrifice. Johnathan made the choice to leave his public school and enroll in TTUISD at the beginning of his 11th grade year.

“TTUISD was appealing because I could provide myself with a more flexible schedule to practice violin and achieve my dreams as a musician,” Johnathan said.

Wu knew that as he approached the end of his high school career, he had to make changes that put him above the rest of the competition. With university auditions approaching, not to mention his many other performances, his schedule had to change. 

“I knew I needed more time to practice and I would not get that in public school. What we were doing there left a lot of down-time,” Johnathan said.  “I now get to choose when I study, when I practice and really anything else. I travel often for competitions and performances and I can bring my school work along with me.”

The more he travels, the more he is confident that his move to online school was exactly what was needed. Not worrying about absences, Wu has been free to pursue opportunities that would not have been possible beforehand.

“I was recently highlighted as a soloist with the Lewisville Lake Symphony in 2016 where I performed Dvorak's Violin Concerto,” Wu said.

This fall, Wu will attend the Cleveland Institute of Music, a premiere conservatory in the world of classical music. Wu has been taking private lessons with Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member, Jan Sloman, and will continue to study under Sloman's expertise in the fall, as well as world-renowned violinist, Jamie Laredo.

It is not just Sloman who has offered encouragement to Johnathan's career though.

“My family has been very supportive of my musical goals. I think it is rare for parents to be supportive of a musical or artistic career, so I am very thankful for their support. I do not take it for granted.”

Wu's older sister, Christine Wu, also plays violin. Watching his sister grow and thrive as an artist has been a large influence in Johnathan's life.

“I aspire to be as good as her. Maybe better,” Johnathan said playfully.

Those are not his only aspirations.

“I am hoping to become a performing artist and be able to perform a lot of solo repertoire. However, I would also be very pleased if I could find a chamber group to perform with,” Wu said.

Many musicians aspire to land a spot within a well-known symphony, but it would seem that Wu's creativity calls for a more personalized outlet.

“I love to create. The idea of taking a solo piece: a sonata, concerto or whatever it might be, and making it new. You can take a certain phrase of the music and play it with as many different characteristics as you can think of. As an artist, it is exhilarating to think of how you can transform those notes.”

Creativity has its risks and its rewards. When trying new things, Sloman has offered this advice to Johnathan: “Continue to trust in your own skills. Stay confident. Critics and judges will say things you may or may not agree with.” Essentially, take everything with a grain of salt – wise advice in the world of performing arts.

Having now been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, a whole new door of opportunity has been pushed wide open for Johnathan. Performers and artists such as Josh Groban, Viola Davis and Billy Porter have also been a part of the YoungArts legacy, their careers speaking for themselves.

What Johnathan will do with that door of opportunity? Time will tell.