Derek Li

Li embarked on his singing journey from a young age with passion instilled in him. Ever since he could talk, Li loved to sing along to any tune around him. Throughout elementary school, Li had his parents record him as he stool on a bed or stool and sang the songs he had learned at school. 

“My parents said I was really expressive and energetic,” Li said. “Singing brought me a lot of joy, so I decided to join a choir. I started training professionally with private lessons too, and from there, my singing just improved more and more.”

Li felt that his original choir was too big, making it difficult for him to connect with members on an intimate level, so he joined Colorful Universe, a smaller choir with a community fit for Li. He has privately trained with his current vocal coach, Eugene Brancoveanu, who has always made him feel comfortable while also presenting challenges that are just within Li’s capabilities. 

“I also really like the way he teaches — he explains how my body works as I sing, making singing feel less abstract,” Li said.

Performing at Carnegie Hall, the nation’s most prestigious classical music venue, as a finalist in the American Protégé International Vocal Competition is among Li’s most memorable achievements. Li and his friend won second place in 2020 with a duet, granting them invitations to perform in New York City in December 2021. 

“Flying out to Carnegie Hall and performing there sounds like just a dream for a high schooler, so I’m really grateful to have had this opportunity,” Li said.

Li views singing as a form of self-expression that has helped him build up self-confidence. The confidence he has developed throughout his singing career has allowed him to express himself more freely, ultimately boosting his overall performance.

As Li enters his final years of high school and prepares to graduate, he hopes to continue singing and further expand his self-confidence.