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Teen's Golden Note

By the time the last notes of Chopin's E-minor concerto died away, Chinese pianist Li Yundi could feel the vibes. "I thought the audience liked me," he said, "I had a feeling I would win." And he did — in dazzling style. The 18-year-old took the top prize of the Frederic Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, making him the first person to be awarded a gold medal in 15 years. No one, however, was more thrilled than his mother. "I had to calm her down," says Yundi's father , Li Chuan , a steel company manager based in Guangzhou. Yundi's musical bent emerged very early. Even as a one-year-old, he was entranced by music programs on radio. Born in Chongqing, Sichuan, Yundi began accordion lessons at the age of four, and switched to piano three years later. "We let him take piano lessons because we heard it would help develop the brain," his father explains. Yundi, who has already won several international contests including the Stravinsky Competition (when he was 13), will receive $25,000 for his latest triumph. His big challenge now: deciding which of the places offered by prestigious European music academies he should accept.

An Off-Key Serenade
Activists in Jakarta choked at the sight of General Wiranto being feted at a top hotel recently. Indonesia's former armed forces chief, an enthusiastic crooner, was launching the CD of sentimental favorites he recorded to raise funds for the local Red Cross. "Singing is one of my hobbies," he says. While the gala reaped $140,000 in donations, campaigners found Wiranto's effort ironic since the beneficiaries included Timorese refugees. Indonesia's human rights commission has linked the general to violence inflicted in East Timor last year by pro-Jakarta militias, which forced thousands to flee west. (Gala organizers even screened a video of refugees in a West Timor camp guarded by militias.) Wiranto's next project may prove to be just as controversial: a book analyzing post-reformasi issues.

Andy Sets A World Record

Canto-pop king Andy Lau has been having a great year. Not only did the Jaycees name him one of their Outstanding Young Persons of the World, Lau has made it into the Guinness World Records 2001 as the artist with the most pop awards. Lau has received 292 music awards over the past 12 years. He was delighted by the news. "Now I should set 'world standards' for myself," he says. Lau, who also made 101 movies in that period, jokes about a change of direction — to, of all places, the bowling lanes. "I still hope to represent Hong Kong at the Asian Games," says Lau, who is a keen amateur bowler. What's the betting on a strike?

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