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He’s a master of the piano. She’s an expert on violin. And together, husband and wife duo Kevin and Heidi Cheng of Central City will be showcasing their talents this weekend in Columbus.

The concert is to take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday at First United Methodist Church, 2710 14th St. in Columbus. The show is free, with all donations going toward supporting the performers. Heidi said the two play mixture of pop, classical and sacred music.

“You don't want to serve people all meat and potatoes. We like to have a little dessert, that would be the popular music. Some salad, that would be the sacred music. We try to give a well-rounded approach,” Heidi Cheng said. “We find that if we play short pieces of classical music, intersperse it with other music, it’s a little bit easier for Nebraskan audiences to digest.”

Kevin Cheng, 23, was born and raised in Taiwan. He grew up in a non-religious household, with his parents following Buddhist tradition. Since the age of 5, Kevin has been playing the piano, which he said was fairly typical for people in his country. For the first eight years, Kevin said he hated playing the piano. But one day his mother took him to see a professional pianist play at an auditorium.

“And I got to see how fast you can play on the piano,” Kevin said. “That particular day changed my life. I started to practice five hours every day instead of just 10 minutes.”

In 2011, Kevin Cheng moved to Nebraska, in a way by accident. After completing junior high, it came time for Kevin to apply for a secondary school. While his grades and test scores were good and in order, he accidentally missed the sign-up date. So he decided to attend a foreign school. Enter Nebraska Christian Schools in Central City, which he chose at random, unaware it was a religious institution.

“I never actually picked Nebraska," Kevin Cheng said. "I went to the agency in Taiwan that assigned kids to foreign schools, and back then I didn’t know Nebraska was a state or the word ‘Christian’ was a religion. They gave us a hundred different schools and we just randomly picked one.”

After graduating, he went on to study music at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he would perform as a guest soloist with the Lincoln Symphony, Kearney Symphony, Sandhills Symphony and Cherokee Symphony. It was around that time Kevin was first introduced to Heidi Tillotson, 23, now Heidi Cheng.

She was born and raised in Kearney. Heidi started playing the violin at 10 and has gone on to perform with the Kearney Symphony Orchestra and the Kearney Chamber Orchestra. In 2013, she performed at the Masterworks Festival in Indiana. After high school, she attended Central Community College in Grand Island where she studied occupational therapy.

“I was told music was not the best thing to go into, so I went into occupational therapy instead,” Heidi Cheng said. “But after I finished, I still loved music and I couldn’t stay away from it.”

Kevin and Heidi bonded over their love of music and in July 2018, then the two were married in Taiwan. In October, the husband and wife duo started performing at nursing and assisted living homes. The two have since expanded to playing at churches, such as their upcoming First United Methodist Church show. The Rev. Cindi Stewart said the church has been trying to host more musical performances and the show will is good timing with it being Holy Week.

“Heidi had contacted us about the possibility of doing a concert and so we felt that it fits with the goal of our worship committee just to be able to have more of these musical opportunities,” Stewart said, "to showcase the talent that we have in our area and to be able to celebrate that.”

To learn more about the couple or to book them for a performance, visit their Facebook page at Kevin & Heidi's Music Classroom or call 308-293-0754.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at news@columbustelegram.com.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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