You could say YTA volunteer David Hwa is a master puzzle solver.
Every winter, Hwa gathers the schedules, needs and preferences of the out-of-town musicians who will need a place to stay when they come to Conroe for the YTA competition in March.
Then he looks at the capabilities, homes and preferences of the area families who’ve volunteered to host them and begins the work of matching musicians and families.
In each case, there are numerous factors to consider, from a visitor’s willingness to share a room to whether a musician will be allergic to a host family’s golden retriever.
“It’s a giant jigsaw puzzle,” Hwa said.
And he solves it: Since he took on this responsibility five years ago, Hwa has found a fit for every musician who needed a place to stay.
The result is a win-win for everyone involved.
“From the musicians’ point of view, it’s wonderful to have a welcoming home,” he said. “In a sense, it’s like going to a bed and breakfast for them. Being in homes helps them settle.”
It’s also a joy to serve as a host, added Hwa, who speaks from experience. He and his wife, Suzanne, are among the volunteers who open their homes to visiting artists. “The musicians are so fantastic; they’re so personable,” he said. “Through the years, many of the musicians have stayed in contact with the hosts and became lifelong friends.”
That already seems to be the case for the Hwas and the musician they hosted most recently: clarinetist Zhi-Yuan Luo, the 2019 YTA Audience Choice Award Winner and a Silver Medalist. The Hwas have remained in touch with Luo and have welcomed him back into their home during return visits to Montgomery County. Most recently, Luo came to The Woodlands to perform at YTA’s kick-off party.
Luo, like many of the musicians who ask for a place to stay during the YTA competition, is a foreign student attending a Texas university.
Spending time with artists from other countries, and learning about their home countries, culture and perspectives, is another benefit of hosting musicians, Hwa said.
“From the host families, I’ve heard it’s a very enriching experience.”
While Hwa has some “regulars” he can rely on to host students, he is always grateful to hear from new host family volunteers.
For more information about hosting a YTA contestant, email Hwa at firstname.lastname@example.org.