It's sometimes said you can't judge an editor until you've seen his wastebasket. By the same token you can't always know what music means to someone until you learn what he or she has given up for it.

When it comes to the eight soloists on next Tuesday's Utah Symphony-Deseret News "Salute to Youth" concert, the list includes ballet, football and, in one instance, a movie career.Stardom was already Weihui Mao's when, at age 10, she abandoned a career as an actress in her native China to pursue one as a concert pianist at the Shanghai Conservatory. Now 20, she will come another step closer to that dream on Nov. 23 at Abravanel Hall when she solos with the Utah Symphony under its music director, Joseph Silverstein, in Chopin's Variations on "La ci darem la mano."

"When I was 6 1/2, a director saw my picture at a neighbor's house and said, `That's a cute little girl. Maybe we can use her,' " Weihui recalls. "Over the next four years I was in seven films and was pretty famous in China. But when you accept a movie you have to be away at least two or three months and that was obviously no good for my practicing. My father was a professor of music theory at the Shanghai Conservatory and my mom taught piano privately - she was my first teacher - and before I was even born they had decided their daughter was going to learn piano."

In 1988 Weihui's father was invited to teach at Brigham Young University and she came to Utah to be with her parents the following year. Today she studies with Susan Duehlmeier at the University of Utah, where she has also soloed with the U. orchestra.

Another pianist of Far Eastern origins will open Tuesday's concert - 13-year-old Sheryl Lee, who will perform the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 (which was written before the one we know as No. 1).

Born in Hong Kong, Sheryl first soloed with an orchestra there at age 11. That same year she came to this country to attend a summer music camp at Indiana University and subsequently studied in Vermont and St. Louis. Eventually she became a Canadian citizen and relocated to Logan, to study with USU piano professor Gary Amano, and says she likes the quiet.

"Logan is much more peaceful and that makes it easier to practice," Sheryl says. "It's kind of noisy in Hong Kong." She also prefers American teaching methods. "In Hong Kong it's much more tense. They want everything to be really accurate and listen for mistakes, but here they tend to listen to phrases and musical clarity." Currently she is a ninth-grader at Logan High School.

Sheryl will be followed Tuesday by 19-year-old Amy Steenblik, who will solo in the finale of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

"Tchaikovsky is my favorite composer," the 1993 Skyline High School graduate declares, a love she says goes back to her days as an aspiring ballerina. Four years in a row, from 1986 through 1989, Amy danced in Ballet West's annual production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." Even before then, however, she had fallen in love with the violin and says she still remembers hearing violinist Bonnie Terry solo on an earlier "Salute to Youth."

"I think every violinist has the dream to play with a major orchestra," Amy says. So when it came to a choice, she picked the violin, and says the chance to perform with the symphony this week represents "a dream come true." Looking on will be her teacher at the University of Utah, associate concertmaster Gerald Elias.

Another U. of U. freshman, 22-year-old Andrew Stamp, will also be performing Tuesday, as soloist in the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra of the Russian composer Otar Gordeli. But for him the conflict hasn't been between music and dance - most recently it was between the flute and "The Flute."'

"After I graduated from Interlochen and before I left on an LDS mission," Andrew recalls, "I got accepted into the Utah Opera Chorus and sang in their production of `Otello.' Then I came back for `La Belle Helene' and started `The Magic Flute,' but had to drop it because of school." And, he says, he still loves singing as much as playing the flute. But if he had to choose, it would probably be the latter, "because I think I'm a little better at it."

Good enough that this will be Andrew's second "Salute to Youth" appearance, the first having taken place in 1989, when he was a student of Karen Perkins'. Currently his teacher at the U. is Susan Goodfellow.

Someone who made what may have been an even more difficult choice is 18-year-old Christopher Lewis, who, though a member of West High's 1992-93 undefeated state-championship football team, accepted a music scholarship to Brigham Young University, where he studies viola with David Dalton.

"It's kind of hard to compare the two," the 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound former offensive linebacker says. "Football is a huge physical thrill, but the viola is mentally and spiritually fulfilling, plus I enjoy playing it just as much." Indeed, one reason Chris says he opted for viola over violin when he was younger was that the lower register and mellower tone of the instrument seemed better suited to his physique. Says he, "I liked having to work a little harder for the sound."

Tuesday he will put that energy to work in the finale of the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra by the Hungarian composer Gyula David.

He will be followed on the program by another West High student, 15-year-old Jenny Naylor, who will solo in Liszt's "Hungarian Fantasia" for Piano and Orchestra, a piece she played just last month on Temple Square with her teacher, Irene Peery.

But it won't be Jenny's first outing with an orchestra. In the past two years she has soloed with the Salt Lake Symphony (in Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"), with the BYU Chamber Orchestra (in Mozart's Concerto in G major) and with the Jefferson Symphony in Colorado (in Chopin's "Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise").

"I do get nervous," this seasoned veteran of the concert platform admits, "but I just start playing and usually am able to forget about it."

Right now Jenny is setting her sights on the Curtis Institute of Music, from which another former Utahn, Tatjana Mead, recently graduated.Mead went on to land a job in the viola section of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Recalls Jenny, "I remember hearing her play on `Salute to Youth.' "

By contrast another of Tuesday's soloists, 16-year-old Catherine Brower of Logan, admits to never having heard a "Salute to Youth" concert, or, if you can believe it, even the Utah Symphony. That's because, despite spending every summer in Utah, she spends the other nine months in Guatemala, where her father works for the U.S. Government, helping coordinate agricultural development throughout South America.

Still, she manages to keep in touch with her teacher of the past three years, Gary Amano, and earlier this year took first place in the senior division of the Utah State University Piano Festival.

"I take lessons from him in the summer," Catherine explains, "then he gives me pieces to work on during the school year." One of those pieces is the one she will be performing with the symphony Tuesday, the opening movement of Gershwin's Concerto in F. Then she returns to Guatemala the following week to begin teaching herself.

On the other hand, the most important "Salute to Youth" in bassoonist Brian Hicks' life is arguably one he wasn't there for - namely the one on which his father, bassoonist Roger Hicks, performed in 1965.

That was 11 years before Brian was born. But even before he started music lessons, he recalls, "My father was talking to me about the bassoon. But it's not really a good instrument to start on, so I picked clarinet. Then three years later, I switched."

A senior at Skyline High, Brian plays bassoon in that school's band and orchestra. At 17, he is also principal bassoonist of both the Utah Youth and Granite youth symphonies. As a member of those orchestras, he participated in two Utah Symphony "Side by Side" concerts, wherein he shared a desk with his professional counterparts in, first, the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, then Franck's Symphony in D minor. Tuesday he will be heard in the finale of the Weber Bassoon Concerto.

Currently Brian studies with Douglas Craig. But clearly his father's influence is important, to the point where he, too, is planning on a parallel career in music and dentistry, just like his dad.

Call it "Son of `Salute to Youth.' "

Starting time for this year's concert is 7:30 p.m., with tickets priced from $7 to $13. (Family passes are also available.)

For information call 533-NOTE.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

CONTEST

This year the performers aren't the only ones who will have a chance to take part in a "Salute to Youth" competition of sorts.

For the first time, we are sponsoring a contest for members of the audience, based not on how well you can play an instrument but on how good you are at spotting false information.

Here's the way it works: At Tuesday's concert, check your copy of the printed program. Inside you'll find notes on each of the pieces to be performed, including short biographies of the eight composers. Except that one of those bios is wrong. Rather than being the composer's biography, it has instead been adapted from the life of a well-known fictional character.

If you can spot the fake, and the identity of the fictional personage whose story is in fact being told, write both names down on the back of your ticket stub, together with your name, address and telephone number, and drop it in the white box in the lobby at intermission or after the concert.

If more than one person gets the right answer, we'll have a drawing, the winner of which will receive a pass good for the entire family to their choice of either of the next two concerts on the Utah Symphony Family Series, Feb. 14 or March 14.

Remember, only one entry per ticket and your stub must be deposited that evening. (Deseret News and Utah Symphony employees and their families are not eligible to participate.)