Lee News

Nineteen Students Welcomed to Campus for Piano Festival

Lee University’s 13th annual International Piano Festival and Competition will feature 19 students, nine of whom will vie for cash and scholarship awards beginning Wednesday, June 14.

The competition is part of a week of concerts and professional instruction. Six students will showcase their skills in the pre-college competition: Jimmy Liu, Chad Miller, Mary Nerren, Amy Xu, Rubing Xue, and Ana Yam. Three students will participate in the college competition: Chih-An Lin, Tzu-Jung Peng, and Roger Shen.

The first round of the competition for pre-college students will take place Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in Squires Hall, located in Lee’s Humanities Center. Finalists will perform an entirely new program for this year’s judges Mirian Conti, Dmitri Vorobiev, Pei-Chun Liao, Jonathan Jung, and Cahill Smith on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The college competition will take place on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

Prizewinners for both levels will be named following the pre-college final round Friday evening. New to this year’s event is the potential for a prize based on vote of the audience.

Liu, from Johnson City, Tennessee, is 16 years old and a sophomore at Science Hill High School. He has won many Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and Tennessee Music Teachers Association state competitions, and he won the Tennessee Tech University (TTU) Young Artist Piano Competition in September 2016. This year, Liu and his duet partner Mary Nerren, also a participant in this year’s piano festival, won the Tennessee State Senior Piano Duet Competition, the Southern Division Competition, and the Weekley and Arganbright National Piano Duet Competition. He currently studies piano from Esther Park and violin with David Kovac at East Tennessee State University (ETSU).

Miller, from Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, is an 18-year-old piano student of Margy Barber. A graduate of the Suzuki Talent Education Program, he recently won first prizes at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Piano Arts Competition and the Bob Jones University’s High School Festival. He performed at the National Association County Agricultural Agents National Convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as at the National 4-H Hall of Fame Ceremony in Maryland. Miller has also performed with Memphis Suzuki Institute Orchestra. He played in masterclasses with Elizabeth Bachelder, Caroline Fraser, Tina Shao, and Shen Lu. Miller serves as a 4-H teen leader, mentors others in music, performs with his church worship team, and is a part of the arts program at Erlanger Health System.

Nerren, 17, is an 11th grade student from Johnson City, Tennessee. She began her piano studies with Ivy Blair of Blair Academy for the Arts and currently studies with Esther Park in the ETSU Music Pre-College program. Nerren won the 2016 TTU Young Artist Piano Competition. She has completed the Royal Conservatory of Music Level 10 repertoire and the technical requirements assessment with honors. Nerren is an accomplished violinist and a section leader in the Highlands Youth Ensemble. She has taught piano and violin at Blair Academy for the Arts and Trinity Arts Center.

Xu, 15, is a ninth-grader at Northview High School in Johns Creek, Georgia. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she studied with Luz Manriquez. Xu moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2015 and began studying with Keiko and William Ransom. After winning the Kentucky Music Teacher Association Bluegrass Competition in 2012, she was a finalist in competitions sponsored by the Louisville Orchestra and Emory University. Xu recently received the Outstanding Performer Award in the Georgia Music Teachers Association state auditions.

Xue is 16 years old and a native of Hunan, China. She began studying piano with Sufang Li at the age of 10. In 2012, she was admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music Piano Academy at Gulangyu where she studies with Clare Wang. She has won the Asian Piano Competition and several youth competitions across the Taiwan Straits. Xue has also studied with Enrico Elisi in Canada and plans to pursue music studies at graduate level.

Yam is a 14-year-old student from San Francisco, California. She began studying piano with her current teacher Larisa Kanevski in 2012. She won the Iowa Music Teachers Association Piano Competition Level A and Level F. She also won the Central Iowa Symphony’s Young Artist Competition and has subsequently performed with the orchestra. Later, Yam took first place at the MTNA Division Junior Competition. At her middle school, she sings in the chorus and plays the viola in the orchestra.

Lin, 18, began studying piano at age five in her native country, Taiwan. She majors in piano and minors in clarinet at the University of Taipei. She played her first piano recital when she was 12, and since then, has participated in numerous masterclasses, which provided her with diverse ideas and inspiration. Lin studies with Pei-Chun Liao and aspires to become a professional pianist.

Peng, 21, was born in Taiwan and began playing piano at the age of five. He currently studies at University of Taipei with Pei-Chun Liao. He has also taken lessons and masterclasses with Hong Xu, Jean-Marc Luisada, Geoffrey Duce, Philip Martin, and Lena Ching.

Shen, 19, is from Northbrook, Illinois. A student of Jon Sakata, he recently graduated Phillips Exeter Academy. Shen was one of the 23 competitors for the First Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition. A first prize winner in MTNA competitions in Illinois and New Hampshire, he has been featured on WFMT 98.7, a radio station in Chicago, Illinois, and performed in two recitals at Carnegie Hall. He is the winner of the 2016 Miami International Piano Festival Academy and the 2017 David D. Dubois Piano Competition.

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 www.leeupiano.com.
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