Springside/Chestnut Hill Academy senior Jordan Wang played viola in the 90-piece orchestra led by composer and performer Tim Janis at the sold-out concert, “The American Christmas Carol,” at Carnegie Hall Nov. 30. Wang devoted approximately 40 hours of rehearsal time prior to the concert.

by Lou Mancinelli

Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Jordan Wang, a Roxborough resident, has qualified three times for the National Prep Wrestling tournament, is the president of the school’s Hilltones a cappella group, and on Nov. 30 played viola as part of a 90-piece orchestra before a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall.

Last April he received a Young Naturalists Award from the American Museum of Natural History for his project that researched how shells reacted to the movement of waves. He started collecting data the summer before his junior year.

His sister helped him collect shells at the Jersey shore to study. He concluded that the oyster population had decreased because the way water moves lodges many of them underground, thus challenging the success of oyster fishermen in the area as well.

Wang, 17, prefers wrestling to science and the viola. He is captain of the wrestling team. Last year he took third in states in the 113-pound division. He started practicing with the varsity squad in fourth grade, attending practices with his older brother. That is also the same time he started playing viola.

“I like feeling in control and dominant,” said Wang about his preference for the grapple. His favorite thing about wrestling is winning. If he gets into the only school he applied to so far, Davidson College in North Carolina, he will wrestle in Division 1, the highest collegiate level of competition.

Wang’s musical excursions started on the violin when he elected to choose an introductory violin course as part of a school musical requirement. His mom, Dr. Kim Eberle-Wang, a SCH faculty member, played the viola in high school, and when she suggested he might like the slightly larger and slightly deeper toned instrument (think of the violin as a soprano and the viola as a tenor), he obliged.

(Dr. Eberle-Wang teaches Upper School environmental education classes, including an elective oceanography class. Last spring she was selected to be part of the Philadelphia Zoo’s Teacher Advisory Council, a group of teachers who provide expert advice and counsel to the Zoo.)

At Carnegie Hall, the orchestra he performed with accompanied Grammy award-winner Sarah McLachlan, internationally acclaimed singer Loreena McKennitt and multi-platinum selling Irish singer Andrea Corr, among others. The performance benefited The Golden Hat Foundation founded by actress Kate Winslet.

Wang noted the professionalism demonstrated by the career musicians he played alongside, which challenged his preconceived notion that the professionals would take the night lightly. He recalled looking out from the stage and being awed by the gilded wall and the immensity of the hall.

Wang seems to have a firm hold on a work ethic. He devoted 40 hours of practice time to the Carnegie Hall event. This summer he attended three wrestling camps. He also chose to carry out a research project, although he did not have to do it.

“I wasn’t content with being at a certain level,” he said about his wrestling. It’s a sentiment, a state of mind that carries over into other aspects of his life.

If Wang possesses the qualities associated with overachievers, he successfully plays off those qualities with the nonchalant demeanor of a composed quarterback. How did he enjoy being at the Jersey shore, away from the city and away from the classroom, studying shells in the summertime?

“As much as you can enjoy research over your summer break,” he said.

And with his astounding achievements, Jordan is like many kids and many more adults. He knows he has many options for the future, but he is still undecided as to whether he will study science or graphic design, or if he might pursue music further in the future. If he pursues music, he prefers to sing.

“I’m not completely sure yet,” said Wang. “I have a lot of things to figure out.”