Lee News

SOM Welcomes Students from Around the World for Piano Festival, Competition

Lee University’s 14th annual International Piano Festival and Competition will feature 23 students, 16 of whom will compete for cash and scholarship awards throughout the week. Prizewinners will be named following the final round on Friday, June 29, at 7 p.m. in Squires Recital Hall, located in Lee’s Humanities Center.

The competition is a part of a week of professional instruction, along with concerts open to the public. Nine students will showcase their skills in the pre-college competition: Rebekah Hong, Catherine Huang, Amy Lao, Grace Peng, Zhuangzhuang (William) Peng, Esther Pham, Kayla Shen, Hsi-Yun Wu, and Shuheng Zhang. Seven students will participate in the college competition: Shu Ming Chen, Wei-Hsuan Chien, Aidan Hedrick, Ying-Ju Lai, Chin Lee, Imsun Lee, and Sara Lee.

The semi-final round of the competition for pre-college students will take place Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Squires Recital Hall. Finalists will perform an entirely different program on Friday evening for this year’s judges Rae De Lisle, Joong Han (Jonathan) Jung, ChoEun Lee, Pei-Chun Liao, Alex McDonald, Ann Schein, Cahill Smith, and Phillip Thomas.

Hong, from Solon, Ohio, is 13 years old and began studying piano at age five. In 2011 she won First Prize in the Indiana Piano Teachers’ Guild Competition and has placed first in the NE Ohio Music Teachers Association (MTA) Buckeye Competition the last three years. Hong became a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2016, where she was a finalist of the All Departmental Concerto Competition. As a result of that performance, she was invited to a masterclass by professor Hyoung-Joon Chang from Seoul National University. She studies piano with Terry Moran.

Huang, 16, from San Jose, California, is a rising junior at Lynbrook High School. She won First Prize at the 2017 Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition and the 2016 IIYM International Piano Competition. She is also a top prizewinner at the Blount-Slawson Young Artist, San Jose International Piano, and the Los Angeles Young Musicians International competitions. Huang has performed with the El Camino Youth Symphony and the Peninsula Symphony, and she will perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic and the California Youth Symphony in the 2018-2019 season. She studies piano with Hans Boepple.

Lao, 17, is a rising senior from Jacksonville, Florida. She has won all piano categories (solo and ensemble) for the Greater Jacksonville Piano Competition and the Florida Federation of Music Clubs, placing top five in senior concerto twice. In 2016, she won the Gulf Coast Steinway Society Competition, the Edvard Grieg Society of America's Grieg Competition, and performed in the Selby Music Archive concert series. Lao has performed in masterclasses under William Ransom, Elena Cholakova, and Robin Williams and currently studies under Mary Lou Wesley Krosnick.

Grace Peng, from Johns Creek, Georgia, is 13 years old and has been studying piano for almost eight years. She has won numerous competitions including the 2017 and 2018 Georgia MTA Auditions, the 2017 C. Merrell Calhoun Prodigy Awards, and the 2018 Southeast Young Artists Piano Competition. She will attend Northview High School in the fall.

Zhuangzhuang (William) Peng, from Victoria, Australia, began studying piano at age five. He currently studies at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and has given recitals in Australia and China. In 2018, he was awarded first place in the “16 and under group” and second place in the “open age group” of Australia Boroondara Eisteddfod. He also received first place in the Geelong Eisteddfod open age group, the 7th Macau International Competition, and in the Taiwan International Piano Competition in 2015.

Pham, from Garland, Texas, began piano lessons at age five. She has won First Prize numerous times at Dallas MTA. She made her orchestral debut at age 13. In 2017 she won the grand prize in the UTA Fall Piano Contest and received second prize at the Texas MTA Solo Competition. Pham has studied piano with Alex McDonald since she was nine.

Shen, from San Ramon, California, is a sophomore at California High School. She was awarded first place in the Music in the Vineyard Solo Instrument Competition and the Ghiglieri Piano Competition. She also placed second in the Pacific Musical Society Competition, California MTA Piano Solo Competition, and the Chopin Foundation Competition. Shen has performed with the El Camino Youth Symphony and was a finalist for the Mondavi Center National Young Artists Competition. She currently studies piano with Tamriko Siprashvili.

Wu, 17, began studying piano at the age of four in Taiwan. In 2015, she received a scholarship to the Pre-College Program of The Juilliard School and was named the “Jacke Kent Cooke Young Artist” by From the Top Organization in 2016. Collectively, Wu has held over 30 recitals in the United States, China, Taiwan, and some European countries. She has also been invited to perform as a soloist with various orchestras, including appearances with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Japan Classical Music Association Orchestra, and Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra.

Zhang, from Canton, Michigan, is a Young Scholar of the Lang Lang International Foundation. He has appeared with orchestras from New York to Germany and has won top prizes in the Thousand Islands International Competition, David Dubois Piano Competition, Music Teachers National Association Competition, and Michigan MTA solo and concerto competitions, to name a few.

Chen, from Taichung City, Taiwan, is 19 years old and began learning piano at the age of eight. She currently studies at the University of Taipei. Chen has performed in a masterclass for Oxana Yablonskaya.

Chien, from Taoyuan, Taiwan, began playing piano at the age of four and currently majors in piano performance with a minor in viola performance at the University of Taipei, where she studies with Jen-Lin Shen. Chien has performed in New York at the Summit Music Festival and the International Keyboard Institute & Festival. She has also performed in masterclasses for Chico-Ying Chang, Victor Rosenbaum, and Dmitry Rachmaninov, among others.

Hedrick, from Union, Kentucky, currently studies at Lee University with Cahill Smith. He was a semifinalist in the Overture Awards Competition in 2017 and was selected as the second prize winner and received Best Cadenza Award at the Tri-State Piano Concerto Competition in 2014. Hedrick performed with the Northern Kentucky Youth Sinfonia as a concerto soloist in Orlando’s Universal Studios, where he received the “Maestro Award” for outstanding soloist.

Lai, from New Taipei City, Taiwan, is majoring in piano performance and minoring in violin performance at the University of Taipei. She studies with Wen Ling Shih and has performed in masterclasses by pianists such as Tai-Cheng Chen and Kuan-Ting Lin.

Chin Lee, from Gukeng-Yunlin, Taiwan, has participated in various competitions and festivals, including the 2011 Musik Camp für junge Pianisten and the 2013 Wettbewerb National Student Competition of Music.

Imsun Lee is from South Korea and came to the U.S. when she was 13 years old. She began studying piano when she was 16 years old and is currently attending University of Georgia in Athens, where she studies with Evgeny Rivkin.

Sara Lee, from Auckland, New Zealand, received Grand Prize in the USA Cincinnati World Piano Competition and First Prize at Citta di Barletta in Italy, and the Hamilton Piano Competition. She also won First Prize at the 2017 Auckland University Graduation Gala Piano Concerto Competition and Second Prize and Best Performance at the Austria International Chopin Piano Competition. She was also a scholarship recipient for Rutgers University and the Brevard Music Festival.

For more information on the Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition, including free concerts, contact Lee’s Department of Musicianship Studies at (423) 614-8264, music@leeuniversity.edu or visit Festival.

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