S'pore boy, 9, beats adults to win global violin contest

Samuel Tan is not your average boy. Put a violin in his hands, and everything changes.

In school and at home, he may appear to be active and playful, just like other children of his age. But Samuel Tan is not your average boy.

Put a violin in his hands, and everything changes. In fact, this nine-year-old showed recently that he can take on violinists four times his age.

From May 24 to 31, Samuel took part in the prestigious 2014 Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition in Italy, which featured 130 violinists from 39 countries. They were aged between eight and 35.

The trip, which cost Samuel's parents around $6,000, saw him walking away with the Postacchini Prize, which is awarded to the best overall violinist in the whole competition.

For winning the Postacchini Prize, Samuel got a handmade violin by luthier Francesco Piasentini, a bow by bow maker Walter Barbiero and a 1,300 euro (S$2,750) cash prize.

Samuel's passion for the violin became apparent when he was two years old.

Jason Tan, his father, said: "We were watching television and my wife switched the channel to a classical orchestra performance, and Samuel was immediately captivated by the violins. We were all very surprised that he took to classical music so much."

For Samuel, it "sounded like people singing to me".

Mr Tan and his wife decided to buy a small violin for Samuel to try out.

Little did they expect that Samuel would proceed to spend most of the next year watching concert recordings and imitating the actions of violinists with his violin.

Mr Tan, 39, an IT manager, said: "At that time, it wasn't so much music as noise, but we could already see his passion for music."

Six years and more than 12 violins later, Samuel's skill with his half-size violin has earned him international recognition.

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.