By Tammy Scileppi
The MTA platforms were his stage and New York City’s subway riders were his audience.
A few years ago, a talented and driven teenage violinist living in College Point, captured the hearts of many who helped him play it forward with donations. The Bayside High School grad was helping his mother put food on the table.
Yut Chia, who is of Chinese descent, came to the city from Colombia with his family, when he was 3.
Two years of underground gigs provided him with some extra dough to pay for college expenses. All he wanted was to have a shot at a musical career. But it was a long shot and the odds were stacked against him.
But one day, many doors started to open for this Middle Village resident.
“This year, I’m proud to say I won CUNY’S Got Talent. All the CUNY schools sent their most talented person to compete in the biggest university talent competition in New York City, and Queens College chose me to represent them,” Chia, 22, said. “I gave it my all and got the first place prize and the title of most talented person in the whole CUNY system. I got two trophies plus a $2,000 check.”
Chia said one of the most enriching experiences in his life was his experience as a music student at Queens College.
“All I did was practice 24/7 and I really appreciate everything they did for me,” he said.
But he decided to leave school because so many doors were opening up for him as a violinist.
“I just had to grasp all the enormous opportunities I was getting. It was either continue studying to become a well-rounded classical player, or move on and follow my dream and passion of becoming a modern violinist,” he said. “The stuff I do is new and they simply don’t teach it in college. I play modern music, I dance while I play, I have backup dancers and choreograph my whole shows.”
His core musicians include a cellist, violinist and his arranger/pianist.
“I get the audience involved and hyped in my shows and most importantly, I make sure every person in the audience goes ‘wow’ by the time I’m done performing,” Chia said.
Playing under the stage name Yut and The Hot Four, Chia has been performing all over the city.
“From Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to nightclubs to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week to government offices. Except Madison Square Garden or Barclays, which by next year, I hope to cross from my bucket list,” he joked, adding, “People always ask me, ‘Hey Yut, where are the other four?’ And that’s when I say, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to introduce to you my hot four. Then I proceed to pluck the G, D, A and E strings on my violin, and everyone laughs.”
And now new audiences outside the subway and city will have the opportunity to see him perform.
Last weekend he performed at Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Connecticut during the 14th annual Miss Chinese Beauty Pageant.
That show will air on China’s biggest networks, TVB, as well as other media outlets around the globe.