From student to guest: Angelin Chang’s journey to Grammy Award winning artist

Angelin Chang originally took the stage at Burris Laboratory School as a student, but she will now be returning as a Grammy Award winning guest performer.

Chang and the Burris student orchestra have been rehearsing all week for the Centennial Celebration performance Sunday.

“It’s wonderful to imagine what it was like for me when I was at Burris,” Chang said. “These students are fantastic. They also have such great opportunities and teaching. They have better circumstances and facilities now and are better equipped than I was then, so I’ll expect to hear from them someday about their Grammys.”

RELATED: Grammy Award winner, alumna to perform with Burris student orchestra

Chang said she started playing the piano by accident as a child. Her family was invited to a dinner by a host who owned a piano.

“I didn’t know what the piano was, but I was mesmerized by it,” Chang said. “When the host showed me how to play, it captured my interest. So much so that I’m still playing today.”

During her time at Burris, Chang said she played the violin in the orchestra and served as Concertmaster. She also said she was able to try a lot of different instruments including other strings, winds, percussion, vocals and handbells that has led her to collect instruments from around the world.

In 2007, Chang received her Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra for her recording of Olivier Messiaen’s “Oiseaux Exotiques.”

“At the Grammys, I have been impressed by the mutual respect that exists amongst all music makers of genre or specialization,” Chang said. “We’re all working professionals and understand the hard work involved at every level, even at the live show that you see on TV… At times, it’s like you could hear a pin drop.”

Looking back at her musical career, Chang said many memories stand out to her, including the opportunities she had while studying at Ball State.

“Many opportunities came from taking that single step on a journey of a thousand miles,” Chang said. “If it weren’t for the outstanding teaching I received [at Ball State,] I wouldn’t have been able to build such a solid career.”

Although Chang said she was happy she took all of those “first steps,” she also said “perseverance is often the hardest, yet most rewarding aspects of music.”

“There’s an outstanding Ball State political science professor, Dr. Teh-Kuang Chang, who is such a sage and trains students to become great thinkers and contribute to society,” Chang said. “He always said there are three major attitudes in the components to success. One, inspiration. Two, creation, and three, perseverance. Think, do and never give up.”

Roy Weaver, interim dean for the Teachers College at Ball State, has known Chang since she was a young girl and said she exemplifies “exceptional skill, dedication, teaching excellence, care for others, hard work, commitment and loyalty.”

Earlier in the year, Weaver said he personally invited Chang to play during the Centennial Celebration.

“[People like Angelin Chang] represent what is possible and what an education at Burris and Ball State can do for success,” Weaver said. “They provide an exemplary model and inspiration for those who see them perform or get to interact with them.

“It is also a wonderful opportunity for alumni to return to Ball State and Muncie to reminisce, see friends and learn about developments at the university and the beauty of the campus.”

Today, Chang is a professor of piano and coordinator of keyboard studies at Cleveland State University and a professor of law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

“I’m elated [to play at Ball State,]” Chang said. “It’s such a magnanimous occasion — the 100th anniversary — and it’s deeply meaningful to me both professionally and personally.”

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu or on Twitter @tiermorrow.

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