Piano Festival Welcomes Competitors, Offers Performances
Lee University’s 16th annual International Piano Festival and Competition will feature 20 participants who will receive professional instruction and vie for cash awards from Thursday, May 27 to Sunday, May 30. The Festival and competition, taking place virtually this year, will also include special performances by Lee faculty and guest artists.
“We are proud to host these stunning students participating in the Festival this year, and we are pleased that we can once again offer stellar performances for the community to view,” said Dr. Jonathan Jung, Festival director and music professor at Lee.
The students who will participate in the competition are Thomas Austria, Carey Byron, Hans Chan, Caleb Chen, Lynnae Eades, Olivia Halm, Han Sol Jeong, Ye Eun Kim, Adrian King, Xinyu Li, Soyoung Lim, Nhi Luong, Mary Elizabeth Nerren, Angelina Ning, Grace Peng, Jensi Perng, Guanyu Shen, Yian Wang , Emma Webb, and Gracie Webb.
Prizes for first, second, and third place, as well as a jury discretionary prize, total $7,000. Five adjudicators will review the participants’ submitted videos and choose the winners in a single round, the results of which will be announced on Sunday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m.
Austria was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina, and started piano lessons at age seven. In 2018, he was the only middle schooler to play at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro Piano Day and was the award recipient for excellence in music theory during a UNC Wilmington music camp. He learned to play bassoon in middle school and participated at all-state competitions, and he has continued his bassoon studies at UNC School of the Arts.
Byron, 16, began her piano studies at the age of four. She has won numerous awards including the 2021 YoungArts’ National Arts Competition as a finalist and first prizes at the MostArts Festival Young Pianist Competition, Los Angeles Young Musician International Competition, and Franz Liszt International Competition. She is a Young Scholar of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, a finalist in From the Top, a second-year scholarship recipient of the U.S. Chopin Foundation, and a junior at Indiana University High School.
Chan, from St. Louis, Missouri, is a senior at Eastman School of Music, currently studying with Professor Alan Chow. Chan has won numerous awards and been a scholarship student at festivals such as Pianofest in the Hamptons and PianoSummer at New Paltz. He has also performed as soloist with the Alicante Symphony Orchestra in Perugia, Italy, as well as given solo performances in cities including Gijon (Spain), New York City, Seattle, Rochester, and St. Louis.
Chen, a native of Taichung, Taiwan, is a freshman piano performance major at Lee University. He received second place in Taichung Musical Competition in 2015 and won first place in the Church of God Teen Talent Competition in 2019, receiving a one-year full-tuition scholarship to study at Lee.
Eades is from Fairmont, West Virginia, and started studying piano at age seven. She competed and tied for first place in the 2019 Carrollton Music Teachers Association (CMTA) music competition and won third place in the 2019 Canadian Music Competition. She is a sophomore piano performance major at Lee University and is the recipient of academic scholarships and the Young Musician Scholarship. She is currently the pianist for Ladies of Lee, one of Lee’s traveling ensembles.
Halm is from a family of 12 and has always had a passion for music. She started playing the piano at the age of seven and began t o pursue music in her senior year of high school. She is currently studying in the Royal Conservatory of Music program through the New Tampa Piano Pedagogy Academy. When not studying, she likes to train for Spartan races and experience new recipes.
Korean born pianist Jeong moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, at age four and started lessons at the age of 10. He has been part of the winning ensemble of the New Zealand Community Trust Chamber Music Contest Christchurch district 2012 and has received the KBB Award in the national finals at both the 2012 and 2013 contests. He has appeared as concerto soloist with the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Symphony Orchestra and the Risingholme Orchestra. He placed third in the 2017 National Piano and Violin Competition in Singapore.
Kim is from Seoul, South Korea, and has won numerous competitions including the Seoul Music Youth Education, Asia International Piano Academy and Festival, and Haneum Music competitions. She has studied piano since she was five years old, first with Ho-jin Jung in Korea and later with Jung at Lee University.
King is a high school senior from Silverdale, Washington. He has been a prize winner at many international competitions in both piano solo, concerto, and duet categories. He was the winner of the 2019 Seattle International Piano Competition, received first prize at the 2018 Aloha International Piano Competition, and was a National YoungArts winner in 2019, 2020, and 2021. King also won the concerto competition at the 2017 Northern Lights Music Festival in Minnesota.
Li, born in Henan, China, won first prize of the 1st Yamaha Chinese Piano Competition youth group in the Yunnan area. She was invited to perform in Meng Ming Wei Concert Hall and Tsinghua University for the Yamaha Competition of the national group. In 2013, Li was selected as the silver medal recipient of the Youth Group for Piano Solo in the Yunnan area screening competition. She currently studies at Lee University with Jung.
South Korean pianist Lim graduated from Busan High School of Art and earned a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from Dong-A University in Busan, South Korea. She has received several awards in piano competitions, including a grand prize from the 31st National Student Music Competition and a gold prize from the 15th Busan Duo Music Competition. She has also won the Lee University Concerto Competition twice, in 2019 and 2020. She is a recipient of Young Musician Scholarship, serves as a graduate assistant, and currently studies piano at Lee University with Jung.
Born and raised in a musical family, Vietnamese pianist Luong started playing piano at the age of four. In 2017, she won first prize at the Yong Siew Toh Concerto Competition and performed with the Conservatory Orchestra. She has been the recipient of the Steven Baxter Memorial Scholarship, Lyra Foundation Grant, and the Yong Siew Toh Artistic Development Grant. Luong was selected to perform in various international festivals such as the Amalfi Music Festival (Italy), Engadin Summer Piano Academy (Switzerland), and Musical Chairs (Canada).
Nerren, of Johnson City, Tennessee, is a junior piano performance major at Lee University. She was recently recognized as the winner of the 2019 Blair Academy for the Arts Grand Virtuoso Competition and second prize winner of the 2019 Nashville Steinway Artist Junior Piano Competition. In 2017, she participated in winning the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Nationals Piano Duet competition as a result of winning the 2017 Regionals and 2016 State MTNA piano duet competitions.
Ning, 16, is a junior at American Heritage School. Her past awards include top prizes at the Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition, East Carolina University Young Artists Competition, Dubois Piano Competition, and the Steinway Piano Competition in Miami. In 2019, she was featured on NPR’s From the Top and most recently received first prizes in the Ocala Young Artist Competition and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition.
Peng is from Johns Creek, Georgia, and currently studies with Dr. David Fung. Since beginning piano at age five, she has won numerous accolades, including being a four-time winner and seven-time laureate of the Georgia Music Teachers’ Association auditions (GMTA), the Atlanta Music Club Scholarship Competitions, and the 2019 and 2020 Athens Music Scholarship awards. She currently serves as the pianist of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and for the Sycamore Piano Trio.
Perng, from Johns Creek, Georgia, is a sophomore at Northview High School. She has studied with Hwee Boon Ng since the age of five. She won first place on the Local Association level of GMTA 2021 and has participated in multiple Bach and Sonata competitions.
Shen was born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China. She participated in the 2019 5th International Festival of Melbourne and won the second prize of the competition senior group. She currently studies with Thomas Lanners at Oklahoma State University.
Wang, born in 1998, began studying piano performance at the age of five and graduated from Sichaun. In 2012, she held her first solo recital which included 12 Chop in Etudes. She has won the bronze prize at the 15th Chopin International Piano Competition in Asia, third prize at the Fifth Kawai Asia Piano Competition, and bronze prize at the Changjiang Piano National Competition.
Emma Webb is a senior piano performance major at Lee University, studying under Jung. She is from Rockford, Illinois, and has participated in numerous competitions. Her awards include first place in the Senior Division of the Chandler Starr Miller Scholarship Competition and second place Senior Division of the Chopin Competition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Emma also has played cello in numerous ensembles including the Lee University Orchestra, Chamber Strings, Symphonic Band, Rock Valley Community Orchestra, and The Cleveland Orchestra.
Gracie Webb works as the primary pianist and organist at her church. Her responsibilities include arranging and writing music and assembling local musicians for special events. She enjoys teaching her private piano students and playing in weddings. Gracie qualified for Allstate choir at Illinois Music Education Association her last three years in high school.
Lee music professor Jung, along with guest artists Christopher Harding and Lanners, will present three pre-recorded and livestreamed performances over the course of the week. Jung will present a recital on Thursday evening, May 27; Harding will perform on Friday evening, May 28; and Lanners will perform on Saturday, May 29. Each recital will take place at 6:30 p.m.
Dr. ChoEun Lee and Dr. Phillip Thomas, also from the Lee University School of Music, will present informative sessions for participants.
Performances by the faculty and guest artists can be viewed live at https://www.leeupianofestival.com/events-schedule. The winners’ performances will be available on May 30 with a designated link provided on the Piano Festival website.
For more information about the Lee University International Piano Festival and Competition, visit www.leeupiano.com.