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Lee, Huang, and Wu Take Top Honors in Piano Competition



Piano Festival Winners Named
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Sara Lee, collegiate division, and Catherine Huang and Hsi-Yun Wu, pre-collegiate division, won first prizes in the 14th annual Lee University piano competition. The award ceremony concluded the International Piano Festival and Competition held June 24-30 on Lee’s campus.

For the collegiate division, Sara Lee was awarded $3,000 for First Prize, while Chin Lee received Second Prize and $1,000 and Shu Ming Chen was awarded Third Prize and $500. An honorable mention and $250 went to Aidan Hedrick.

In the pre-collegiate division, the judges decided to award two first prizes, one third prize, and two honorable mentions. Huang and Wu received $2,000 each for their First Prize award, Shuheng Zhang received Third Prize and $500, while Rebekah Hong and ZhuangZhuang (William) Peng received honorable mentions and $250 each.

Finalists were chosen from a field of 16 outstanding young pianists, all of whom also participated in the week-long festival with 12 additional students from around the USA, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. The festival’s participants enjoyed performances by world-renowned guest artists Rae De Lisle, Pei-Chun Liao, Alex McDonald, and Ann Schein. Participants also worked closely with Lee University School of Music faculty members Jonathan Jung, ChoEun Lee, Cahill Smith, and Phillip Thomas.

This year, participants engaged with the guest artists and Lee faculty in group lessons and master classes, as well as additional classes in vocal collaboration, chamber music with strings, career skills, harpsichord, and historical performance.

According to Smith, “This particular mix of inspiring guest artists, our own Lee University piano team, and an astonishing level of talent and enthusiasm amongst the young participants made for an unforgettable week of treasured experiences for all involved. While just a few leave with a cash prize, we believe that everyone heads home with a palpable boost in artistic inspiration, new practical skills as pianists, exposure to great performances of great music, new musical friendships, and plenty of great memories.”

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 be perform with the South Carolina Philharmonic and the California Youth Symphony in the 2018-2019 season. She studies piano with Hans Boepple.

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.

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.

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.

For information on the annual Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition, contact Lee’s School of Music at (423) 614-8240 or visit Piano Festival.


PHOTO: Prize winners, guest artists, and faculty from the Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition are pictured here in Squires Recital Hall.
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