I started winning competitions. We still had very little money -- my father had to borrow $5,000 to pay for a trip to the International Young Pianists Competition in Ettlingen, Germany, in 1994, when I was 12. I realized later how much pressure he was under as I watched footage of the contest. Tears streamed down his face when it was announced that I'd won -- earning enough money to pay back our loan.
It was soon clear I couldn't stay in China forever. To become a world-class musician, I had to play on the world's big stages. So in 1997, my father and I moved again, this time to Philadelphia, so I could attend The Curtis Institute of Music. Finally our money worries were easing. The school paid for an apartment and even lent me a Steinway（斯坦威钢琴）. At night, I would sneak into the living room just to touch the keys.
Now that I was in America, I wanted to become famous, but my new teachers reminded me that I had a lot to learn. I spent two years practicing, and by 1999 I had worked hard enough for fortune to take over. The Chicago Symphony orchestra heard me play and liked me, but orchestra schedules were set far in advance. I thought I might join them in a few years.
The next morning, I got a call. The great pianist Andre Watts, who was to play the "Gala Benefit Evening" at Chicago's Ravinia Festival, had become ill. I was asked to substitute（代替）. That performance was, for me, the moment. After violinist Isaac Stern introduced me, I played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. My father's mouth hung open throughout the entire song.
Afterward, people celebrated -- maybe they were a bit drunk -- and asked me to play Bach's Goldberg Variations. So I played until 3:30 a.m. I felt something happening. Sure enough, gigs started pouring in（大量涌入）. Lincoln Center. Carnegie Hall. Still, my father kept telling me, "You'd better practice!" But living in America with me was beginning to relax him. In Beijing I'd been fat -- he made sure I ate -- and he'd been skinny. Now I was getting thin. He wasn't.
I wanted to do something special for him for all he had done for me. So when I made my Carnegie Hall solo recital（独奏） debut in 2003 at age 21, I included Chinese music. I wanted to revive our family's Shenyang tradition of playing together.
My father and I had often practiced a piece called "Horses," a fun version for piano and erhu. That night in Carnegie Hall, after I played Chopin and Liszt, I brought Dad out on the stage, and we played our duet（二重奏）. People went crazy -- they loved it. My father couldn't sleep for days. He was too happy to sleep.
There have been lots of concerts in Carnegie Hall, but for me playing there was especially sweet when I remember the cold days in Beijing. Together, my father and I worked to reach the lucky place where fortune spots you, and lets you shine.