COLLEEN Lee Ka-ling has certainly mastered the intricacies of the piano. At the tender age of 15 she has won a number of prestigious awards in local and international competitions, and now she can add the South China Morning Post Student Musician of the Year Award to her list of achievements. 'I am very happy and most honoured to win this prestigious award,' the Heep Yunn School pupil told Young Post. Colleen started her piano studies at the age of four. She has won over 20 prizes in various competitions in Hong Kong, Macau, China and the United States. She was the winner in the Grade Eight Piano Solo in the Hong Kong and Macau Piano Competition in 1991. She also won first prize in the 1993 Junior Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, held in the United States. Colleen was also the youngest Hong Kong student to have won first prize in the Sixth Newport International Competition for Young Pianist in 1994 in the United Kingdom. The pianist attributes her success to her talent and devotion to music. 'I love music, especially classical and romantic. My favourite composers are Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and Liszt.' Colleen also takes part in many other music activities like chamber music and performances accompanying singers and choirs. She joined the Academy for Performing Arts when she was seven, and immediately won a scholarship after taking her entrance examination. As soon as school finishes, Colleen rushes to the academy and practises for five hours daily. She says constant practice is a source of strength. 'I believe that having the patience to practise is important for a musician to succeed, no matter how talented he or she may be.' Colleen says her ambition is to become a professional musician as well as a good music teacher. The young musician will receive a $20,000 Citibank scholarship, two British Airways return tickets to Manila or Taipei, a $5,000 gift certificate and a $5,000 music course from Tom Lee Music Company and an Olma watch. The fourth former says that the prize will help make her dream come true. 'I would like to study music either in Britain or the United States.' Judges Estella Cham, principal inspector of the Music Section Advisory Inspectorate in the Education Department, and Margaret Crawford, head of Wind, Brass, Harp and Percussion at the School of Music of the APA, were impressed by Colleen's performance of Tchaikovsky's Dumka. Ms Crawford said she was impressed by Colleen's outstanding control and phenomenal performance. Ms Cham praised the young musician for her high musical intelligence.