Anna Han is smart, polite and really good at playing the piano.
So good, in fact, that you can hear her on the radio.
The 12-year-old Santan Junior High School student was invited this summer to perform on “From the Top,” an NPR radio show that spotlights America’s most talented young classical musicians. The broadcast airs 7 p.m. Sunday on KBAQ (89.5 FM).
“It was incredible. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever been to,” says Han, who studies music at New Century Conservatory in Chandler.
On the show, Han is interviewed by acclaimed pianist and host Christopher O’Riley, and she performs “Ondine,” a piece from Maurice Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit.”
“It was a really good show,” she says, “It was so much more than your average piano recital. They add interviews with the performers onstage, and there’s a funny music quiz at the end that’s kind of like a Jeopardy/trivia-type thing. It has everyone laughing.”
Han was the youngest performer on the all-piano broadcast; other performers ranged in age from 14 to 16 and hailed from Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.
The show was taped at the University of Kansas, where Han spent her summer attending an International Institute of Young Musicians summer academy. She fell in love with piano, she says, at age 4 or 5, when she received an electronic keyboard as a gift.
“I’m not sure, but I think it was the first instrument that I ever knew. I liked playing on it. It was pretty cool.”
From the Top is a nonprofit organization that brings attention to the talent and stories of outstanding young classical musicians through its radio show, PBS television show and a national tour of live events, training and mentorship programs. Its radio program is broadcast on more than 200 NPR stations across the country.
“If this were two years ago, I probably would have been really nervous, but I’ve learned to calm myself down, and the crew made it really easy for us. We got to know people, meet new friends, gain this experience of speaking onstage, which isn’t something we’re used to doing — in a piano recital, you walk out, take a bow, play and walk off. We had discussions on music and technique. The whole experience was pretty fun, rather than an anxious thing,” says Han, who has garnered awards at the summer institute in Kansas and the 2007 Arizona Young Artists Piano Competition. She was the youngest pianist ever to win first place in the Music Teacher National Association’s Baldwin Junior Piano Competition.
Two other young Valley musicians will soon perform on “From the Top.” Carolynn Cong, a 13-year-old pianist from Scottsdale, and Chaz Salazar, a 16-year-old flutist from Phoenix, will perform live onstage during a local taping of the show on Nov. 18. The Boston-based show and its crew will tape a broadcast before a live audience in Mesa. The program will air March 1.
As for her broadcast on Sunday, Han is excited to hear it.
“I’d like to listen to the whole thing just to see how it sounds. I’ve forgotten some of the details, and I didn’t get to hear some of the other performers because I was backstage. It should be a really good show.”