Talented Young Pianists from Around the Globe Compete at Eastman School for Cash Prizes, Scholarships

July 5, 2012

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)

In 2002, 18-year-old Hong Xu won second place in the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition.  In 2006, the Chinese pianist received his Bachelor of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music. In 2007, the New York Times described Xu as a “technically brilliant, insightful musician of seemingly limitless potential” and BBC Magazine recognized the multi-award winning pianist in its 2010 “Rising Star: Great Artists of Tomorrow” feature. Since then, he has given critically-acclaimed performances in Europe, North America, and China.

Xu will be back in Rochester Saturday, July 28, through Saturday, August 4, this time as guest artist and judge for the 13th Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition.

Twenty-one talented young artists from around the world between the ages of 15 and 18 hope to follow in Xu’s footsteps as they participate in this year’s competition. The pre-screened competitors come from the United States, Canada, Korea, China, Japan, Costa Rica, Russia, and Italy, and will vie for cash prizes and scholarships to Eastman.

“These pianists are seasoned performers who are at the beginning of their careers,” said Douglas Humpherys, chair of the piano department at Eastman and founding director of the competition. “The audience has the chance to listen and watch these tremendously talented young artists as they pursue their dreams to join the best of their generation on the concert stages of the future.”

The Competition and Participants

Each of the pianists will play in a public master class and present an hour of solo music over two preliminary rounds in Kilbourn Hall. For the final round on Saturday, August 4, five competitors will be chosen to perform a movement of a piano concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eastman professor and conductor Neil Varon, in Kodak Hall. Winners will be announced after the judges’ deliberations following the last performance. The Final Round performances are made possible through the generosity of Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey.

First prize in the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition includes a Gold Medal and a cash award of $5,000. The second place winner will receive a Silver Medal and $2,500; third place carries a Bronze Medal and $1,500 award.  Each of the top three winners will also receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend the Eastman School of Music. Additional prizes include $500 awards to competition finalists not winning a medal; for performances in a master class, of a classical sonata, and for best performance of specific works; and an audience prize.

This year’s competitors are: Kevin Ahfat, 17, of Centennial, Colo.;  Naomi Causby, 18, of Columbia, S.C., and Korea; Junhui Chen, 17, Shanghai, China; Leonardo Colafelice, 16, Bari, Italy; Bryan Ho, 16, Potomac, Md.;  Seika Ishida, 15, Yamaguchi City, Japan; Jaeyoung Kim, 17, Glen Rock, N.J., and Korea; Sang-Won Kim, 17, Guwon City, Korea; Baichao Lan, 16, Shanghai, China; Dong-Won Lee, 18, Redmond, Wash.; Kate Liu, 16, Winnetka, Ill., and Singapore; Mengjia Liu, 16, Shanghai, China; Chaeyoung Park, 15, Lawrence, Kan.; Heather Shen, 16, Birmingham, Mich.; Katelan Tran Terrell, 18, Fort Worth, Tex.; Miles Walter, 17, Keene, N.H.; Si Yi Wu, 17, Richmond, B.C., Canada; Yuechen Ziao, 17, Beijing, China; Jing-Quan Xie, 16, Shanghai, China; and Amiran Zenaishvili, 16, Moscow, Russia.

The Judges

The opening concert of the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition will feature a recital on Saturday, July 28, by Xu. He is one of seven members on the international jury.

Thomas Schumacher, Professor Emeritus of Piano at Eastman, will chair the jury. He has served on the boards and juries of many international music competitions. As a performer, Schumacher has appeared with major orchestras throughout the world and given concert tours in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.  He will be joined on the jury by Gennady Dzyubenko, an active soloist and chamber music collaborator. Dzyubenko has served on the faculty and administration of several prominent music schools in Europe and records regulary for CDs, radio, and television. Also a judge is Veda Zuponcic, a prize-winning performer who has performed in recital and with orchestras throughout the United States, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Japan, and is a sought-after clinician. Jin Zhang, director of the middle school piano division the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, is a renowned piano educator. His students have received top prizes in many prestigious international competitions.

Returning as judges for the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition are Mirian Conti and Min Kim. Conti is an award-winning recording artist who organizes and adjudicates competitions, directs festivals, and promotes promising young artists through master classes and special prizes. Kim is co-chair of the Music, Dance & Theatre Department at New Jersey City University, performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician, and is in demand as a guest master class teacher and adjudicator.

Event Information

Admission is free for the master classes and preliminary rounds of the competition. Tickets are required for Xu’s guest recital and the final round of the competition with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and can be purchased in advance at the Eastman Theatre Box Office.

Master classes will take place in the Eastman School’s Hatch Recital Hall, while the guest artist recital and preliminary rounds will be held in Kilbourn Hall. The final concerto round with the RPO will be in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre and is made possible through the generosity of  Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey.  More information on the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition is available online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/pianocomp/.

The schedule of events is:

Saturday, July 28:

Opening Concert Guest Artist Recital: Hong Xu. 7:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall. Reserved seating  $10 to $20 (discount with UR and student ID); available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St., 585-454-2100, or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts . Generously sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Ronald R. Reed.

Sunday, July 29:

Master Class Round, 3 to 5:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall, free

Monday, July 30:

Master Class Round, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Hatch Recital Hall, free

Preliminary Round 1: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; 4 to 5:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall, free.

Tuesday, July 31:

Master Class Round, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Hatch Recital Hall, free

Preliminary Round 1: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; 4 to 5:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall, free

Wednesday, August 1:

Master Class Round, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Hatch Recital Hall, free

Preliminary Round 2: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; 4 to 5:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall, free

Thursday, August 2:

Master Class Round, 9:30 a.m. to Noon, Hatch Recital Hall, free

Preliminary Round 2: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; 4 to 5:30 p.m.; 7:30 p.m., Hatch Recital Hall, free

Saturday, August 4:

Final Round, Concerto performances with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Neil Varon, conductor. 7:30 p.m. Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Awards Ceremony follow the final round. $20 General Admission (discount with UR and student ID); available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St., 585-454-2100, or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts . Made possible through the generosity of  Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey.

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