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Eagle Feature: FGCU Students Exceeding Education’s Expectations

Bower School of Music & the Arts Spotlight: Quang Vo
Addyson McCullough

Seated at a piano, Quang Vo tucks his head, closes his eyes and lets the memorized sheet music come to life.  Competitions across the globe are what got the 17-year-old from Hanoi, Vietnam to FGCU in August. 

Vo has been playing piano since he was five and found memorizing and playing music to be second nature. When he began playing the piano, his parents encouraged him to pick up other extracurriculars. Vo started swimming and played soccer into his teenage years, although music stayed first priority. 

Before Vo came to FGCU this fall, he taught his 9-year-old brother to play piano. Vo’s family is still in Vietnam, supporting his endeavors. 

“Neither of my parents play the piano and haven’t learned music before. At first they encouraged me to become an engineer. But I showed my abilities in playing the piano and they encouraged me to become a professional pianist,” Vo said. 

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Vo studied at the largest music school in Vietnam, the National Vietnam Academy of Music. In June of 2022, Vo met FGCU’s Michael Baron, doctor of musical arts and the Myra and Van Williams Distinguished Professor of Music and Head of Keyboard Studies. 

Baron frequently holds concerts across Europe, South America and Asia. He expected to perform at The Vietnam National Academy of Music in 2022, but instead, he entered a room full of students waiting to audition for him and FGCU.

During Baron’s international tours, he holds master classes and looks to recruit students for FGCU’s Bower School of Music, but the Vietnam auditions were out of the ordinary. 

Vo’s nerves were calm during the audition. He had done this before and this time would be no different. It was just Vo, the piano and the rich notes filling the air. 

“Quang was the one I was most intrigued by. But I do want to emphasize that all the students from Vietnam who came here are world class. Quang is one of those people with special abilities,”  Baron said. 

Vo has performed, competed and won top awards in multiple district, city, national and international levels. His district and city awards are academia and merit focused, highlighting his achievements in chemistry, mathematics and English. 

He has competed in competitions in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Romania, England, Malaysia, United States, Thailand and Australia. Some of these competitions, he’s received honorary awards, ranking higher than a first place title. Along with these awards come prizes. In a recent competition, Vo received a piano, which he gifted to his brother. 

In many of Vo’s competitions, he bumped age categories, competing and beating contestants up to 29 years of age. 

“The level of the competitions is going to get higher and higher,” Baron said. “He sees himself hopefully entering some of the very top competitions in the world, which would be a jumpstart for a major career type of thing.”  

Vo is focusing on his studies in piano performance and is preparing for future competitions. Through the music program, he accompanies vocalists and is interested in learning more about music therapy. His focus is piano performance. 

After Vo finishes his undergraduate degree  Baron predicts Vo will go on to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in piano performance.

While Vo is grateful and enjoying his time at FGCU, he is excited to see where his career takes him after college.

“I’d like to travel around the world and be in many countries and stay in good hotels and perform,” Vo said. 


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About the Contributor
Addyson McCullough
Addyson McCullough, Eagle News Assignment & Features Editor
Addyson McCullough has had a love for writing since she could hold a pencil. In her high school English classes, she had to write a mock article and fell in love with the style of writing. She is currently a sophomore majoring in journalism. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her roommates and her hedgehog, Hamlet!

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