US Teen Unlikely Mandarin Chinese Opera Star

An Oakland teen is a rising star in the rarified world of mandarin-language Chinese opera.

Tyler Thompson, 15, one of a few black students at the Purple Silk Music Education program, has wowed audiences – including Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi – with his mastery of the ancient art form.

Thompson, who began learning Chinese opera as a kindergartener in a predominately Asian elementary school, said classmates sometimes razz him about his unique hobby.

“Sometimes they don’t understand it,” Tyler told The Associated Press.

“It’s just joking about the fact that, as dark as I am, I’m singing Chinese. What’s up with that? If I go to China, I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb. It’s just those types of jokes, all in good fun.”

The talented teen received a standing ovation when he recently performed at the World Children’s Festival in Washington and has begun learning to speak basic Chinese.

A theatre student at the Oakland School for the Arts, Tyler said Chinese opera has made him curious about other cultures.

“It’s made me want to know more about the world outside of America or California or Oakland,” he said.

Taken from NY Daily News: 28.07.11