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Local piano prodigy giving senior recital before packing up for Ivy League university

August 15th, 2014 9:45 am by Tony Casey

Local piano prodigy giving senior recital before packing up for Ivy League university

Ming Wilson (Contributed photo)

The possibilities for pianist Ming Wilson are endless. And that’s why the Johnson City student is keeping his options open.

Heading to Princeton on a full scholarship soon, Wilson said he his first focus will be putting on a “well-done” show for the crowd at the church he’s attended since he was 7 years old — Central Baptist Church. His senior recital will include pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff as well as some Gershwin. The concert is free and is set to take place at the church at 4 p.m. Sunday.

“There’s an added motivation to do well,” Wilson said. “Once I get into the music, the nerves won’t get to me.”

Wilson’s had practice in keeping his nerves at bay, performing at Carnegie Hall, on the Great Wall of China and on National Public Radio, where he was showcased as a young classical musician.

He admits he’s played all across the globe but is more nervous to be playing for a home crowd.

Tony Martin, a worship pastor with Central Baptist Church, said he couldn’t be more proud of Wilson and what he’s been able to accomplish in his life. Though Wilson shrugs off any reference to him being a “prodigy,” Martin has no problem using the term for Wilson.

“Ming is definitely a prodigy,” Martin said. “He’s very gifted and works at it. He’s been a dedicated leader at whatever he does.”

As far as his music has brought him, Martin says that might not end up the career path for Wilson.

“He’s going to Princeton on a full scholarship in the fall, then medical school, then he wants to be a missionary,” Martin said.

“Humble,” “nice” and “driven” are words Martin uses to describe Wilson.

Wilson said he can initially go to Princeton as an undecided student in regard to what he chooses to focus on educationally, but said medicine is something he’s want to study since he was young, ultimately wanting to work with Christian missionaries.

“I’m open to exploring the many educational opportunities at Princeton,” he said.

It all started for Wilson when he was a student of Dr. Sharon Rush and Dr. Donald Conflenti, a former Piano Department Chairman at East Tennessee State University. From there, the prizes and accolades rolled in, including first prize in the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition. Later chosen as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholarship recipient, Wilson had also earned a young artist award that gave him $10,000 for his education.

“This scholarship,” said Ming, “remains one of the biggest and most transformational blessings of my life. Not only because of the financial component, but because of the many inspiring individuals with whom I could form close friendships.”

Wilson went on to a boarding school in Connecticut called Choate Rosemary Hall, from which he recently graduated. Not only did Wilson graduate from the same school as previous graduates Edward Albee, Michael Douglas, John F. Kennedy and Ivanka Trump, he also was elected student body president and held leadership positions in the school’s Christian fellowship and a capella groups.

As for playing atop the Great Wall of China during his tour of Asia that included performances in Seoul, Beijing and Hong Kong, Wilson said the experience was windy.

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