GEORGE TOWN: The first Malaysian to be accepted into the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School of Music in Surrey, England, has died at the age of 45.
Penangite Dr Pauline Kung Bjorem, who studied music at the school under a four-year scholarship, died on Nov 15 at the Baylor Hospital in Dallas, United States, after a long battle with leukaemia.
She was the director of piano studies, associate professor of piano, and co-director of the Abilene Christian University (ACU) PianoFest Summer Academy in the United States.
Pauline began her primary education at Convent Light Street in Penang until the age of 14 when she took the big step and enrolled at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music.
Her mother Winnie Kung, 69, said after completing her studies there, Pauline enrolled at the ACU to continue her education, and married Brent Bjorem on Feb 26, 1996, in Oregon, adding that she gave birth to a daughter in 2006.
"She continued her education and polished up her craft as a pianist before moving back to Abilene to join the ACU faculty as an associate professor with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Oregon, and a master of music in piano performance from Hardin-Simmons University.
"We would like to thank Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, the brother of late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, who initiated Pauline's application at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music. He was the one who advised Pauline to take the bold step which led to her musical career success.
"She will be greatly missed by her students and friends around the world," she said at The Star Northern Hub in Bayan Lepas here yesterday.
Pauline had performed throughout England, including at the British Broadcasting Corporation and Wigmore Hall in London. She also held recitals in Wales, Malaysia, and in California, Oregon, Washington and Texas in United States.
During the interview, Winnie, who was accompanied by her husband and Pauline's father Kung Chew Soon, 77, proudly showed articles about Pauline's career.
Pauline leaves behind her husband and daughter Kiana Mei Bjorem.
Those who wish to listen to her piece titled Fantasie - Impromptu in C# minor, Op66 may do so at http://soundcloud.com/stevendward/fantasie-impromptu-in-c-minor.