Rong Hua A, 26
"In Rostock there are some very well-known and talented musicians who also have an excellent reputation as teachers."
Round the World for Art
Every year the German Academic Exchange awards prizes to international students for outstanding academic performance and remarkable social and intercultural commitment. One of the prize winners in 2006 was Rong Hua A, a young Chinese woman studying at Rostock University of Music and Drama.
To European ears your name sounds a little unusual. What does it mean?
R.H.: Translated into English, Rong Hua A means something like ‘pure flower’. My mother is Chinese, my father Mongolian – they met during the Cultural Revolution.
How did you come to study classical music?
R.H.: My father had always played the morin khuur, a traditional Mongolian instrument, whose name roughly translates as ‘horse-head fiddle’. One day, when I was about six years old, he travelled to Beijing to a major concert by a European symphony orchestra. He liked it so much that he decided his only child should learn to play the violin, and play it the way it’s done in the West. That’s how, at the age of eleven, I came to pass my first entrance exam – for the Central Music School for Minorities in Beijing. From then on I lived in Beijing, and later my parents moved there too.
But soon after that you moved on again – even further away – to Europe?
R.H.: Yes, because you can only really learn to play an instrument where it has its cultural roots. In 2002 I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Beijing, and at that point I realised I wanted to continue studying, in Europe.
Why did you choose Rostock University of Music and Drama?
R.H.: They chose me! The German state universities of music and theatre have a very good reputation, so in 2003 I applied to and took entrance exams for several of them, including the hmt in Rostock. I had heard of Rostock because there’s a very famous professor for violin here, Petru Munteanu. Now I am one of his students.
From Beijing to Rostock – was that a step into a different world?
R.H.: At the beginning it was very strange. I could never recognise anybody I’d met before, because everyone looked the same to me. But I like it here very much. People in Rostock are more direct, they like to discuss things. Chinese people are always so withdrawn. And the thing I like most here is the fact that you have to organise a lot of things yourself and get involved in things.