|Young Musicians Category, age 5 to 9|
Shogo Okutomo, from Newton MA, is 6 years old and is excited to be starting 1st grade at the Angier School. He has been playing the violin for 2 years with his teacher Bonnie Black, and he is happy performing any time he can… from special concerts to fiddling festivals. When he is not playing his violin, you might be able to find Shogo running around on the soccer field playing his favorite sport. He also loves playing with his new puppy “Lexie.” In the future, Shogo would like to be a chef, a professional soccer player, or a violinist–or maybe even all three!
Colin Toh Sze Peng, 7, lives in Singapore and began studying violin at the age of 2. Currently he is a student of Natalia Kurganova at Mandeville Conservatory of Music. Colin has been a runner-up at the 4th Zhong Sin International Music Competition. He already gave a number of performances at his Conservatory, School, Nursing Home, and the local hospital. Colin also took part in the Singapore International String Conference in 2010 and is now preparing for the National Piano and Violin Competition 2011.
Richard Gao, the Best Internet Performer nominee, age 8, is a 3-rd Grade student at Sir Wilfred Laurier P.S. (French) in Toronto. Richard’s piano career began with Ms. Louise Luo when he was two and a half years old. He participated in his first piano competition and won two awards when he was 4. In 2009, at age 5, as the youngest contestant, Richard won 3rd place and CMC scholarship in the Piano 8 Years Category at the National Final of 2009 Canadian Music Competition. 2011 is a breakthrough year for Richard – he has demonstrated remarkable talent and potential by winning Age Achievement First Prizes at four prestigious piano competitions, including a Gold Award in Group B (Age 7-8) of the International Piano Competition. In addition, Richard has won many first place awards, trophies and scholarships at regional piano competitions over the past few years.
|Junior Category, age 10 to 13|
Augusta Campoli is 12 years old and lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. Not unlike most children, Augusta began singing and dancing around the house at a very early age to various children’s television programs. At the age of 6 her parents recognized her love for singing and enrolled her in lessons. During her 2 year tenure with the Upper Canada Chorus she had the privilege of performing with the cast members of Cats, Mamma Mia and Dirty Dancing on 3 separate occasions at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts with such notables as Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard, who had performed the roles of the Phantom and Christine in Phantom of the Opera. She has played the roles of Babette in Beauty and the Beast, Gabriella in High School Musical II, Agatha in Guys and Dolls, Glinda the Good in the Wizard of Oz, as well as minor roles in BIG the Musical and Oliver. Augusta has entered and won numerous talent competitions such as the Jr. Division of the Southwestern Ontario Talent Search, The Rising Star National Talent Competition in Tennessee and is also a previous winner of the American Protégé Music Talent Competition.
Kijung Kwak was born in 1999 in Seoul, South Korea. His main hobbies are playing violin and piano, and practicing Taekwondo. He started playing piano at the age of six. In 2008, he started violin under Elizabeth Wolff. At the age of seven, Kijung has won a silver medal from the International Music Educational Association held in Seoul, South Korea for piano. After moving to the US, he won the Wisconsin Music Teachers Association Piano Competition twice and Badger Competition, where he won an honorable mention two times (2010 and 2011). Also, Kijung won the 4th place in the Junior Division at the Racine-Kenosha Music Teachers Association Piano Competition in 2011. He enjoys being the 1st violinist in Kiwanis Youth Symphony Orchestra in Racine, WI. Aside from the musical achievements, Kijung has participated in Wisconsin Center for Academic Youth (WCATY) and Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) two times, and has won the NUMATS award for scoring high on the ACT. He achieved the gold medal in the state level test and also qualified as one of the few finalists as the Van Vleck Scholarship Wisconsin Mathematics, Engineering and Science Talent Search at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and participated in the United States of America Mathematical Talent Search. At the age of seven, Kijung won a gold medal in the Pattaya 2006 International Taekwondo Championships (Thailand), and several other medals from Korea Taekwondo Association.
Tiffany Tse, 12, started piano with Larisa Niurenberg in July 2004. In the following year, she received two First Place awards in a regional Music Festival including Age Achievement. She develops her skills and techniques under the tutoring of Larisa and Vladimir Niurenberg. Tiffany was a National finalist and a top winner at the Canadian Music Competition in 2009; she received the Most Promising Trophy from Markham Music Festival, The Best of Sonata Trophy from Yip’s Music Festival and the Mayor’s Award (the Most Promising Senior Performer Trophy) from Arts Richmond Hill. In 2010, she won awards at two Competitions in New York and received the Best of Grade 10 Piano Award at the York Region Music Celebration Festival. She received First Class Honors with Distinction in RCM Grade 10 Piano Examination in the same year. In 2011, Tiffany was once again a National finalist at the Canadian Music Competition and won the 2nd place in the final at her age group. She also received the Sonata Trophy from Markham Music Festival, The Best of Chopin Trophy from Yip’s Music Festival. Her other interests include reading, skating, swimming, cycling and computer games.
Szuyu Su (Rachel), the Best Internet Performer nominee, was born in Tainan City, Taiwan in 1998. She is now a 8th grader of I-Shou international high school. Rachel began to study piano at the age of four and is now under the instruction of Gwhyneth Chen. She also has been instructed by masters such as Meng-Chieh Liu, Seymour Lipkin, Susan Starr and others. Rachel has won first prizes at many national competitions: In 2007, she was awarded first prize of Child class B (11 and younger) at 14th Hong Kong Asia Piano Open competition and was a 5th prize winner (1st & 2nd not awarded) of open class of 15th competition 2 years later. In 2008, she won prizes of international competitions in New York. This year she was awarded second prize at 16th Hong Kong Asia Piano Open competition of Liszt performance class and gave her debut recital in Taipei National Performance Hall on 26th May.
Kaylah Paquette is an artistic and inspired singer and pianist. She has been studying vocals and piano at Veronika’s Music Studio in Aurora, Ontario since the age of 4½ and has been a member of a jazz group called “Jazkis” since 2006. She has completed her Grade 6 Vocals and Grade 3 in piano from the Royal Conservatory. Her repertoire is comprised of Classical, Broadway, Jazz and Pop styles and she can sing in over 8 languages. In 2009, Kaylah had the honor to sing to an audience of dignitaries and special guests to open the new Performing Arts Center in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She just recently won an international competition for both solo and duet.
|Intermediate Category, age 14 – 17|
Sergey Belyavsky, the Best Internet Performer nominee, 17, graduated from the Central Music School at the Moscow State Conservatory, in the class of Vera Kameneva . He is now studying at the Moscow State Conservatory, in the class of Professor Elisso Virsaladze. Sergey has won a staggering number of awards, including 1st place at the 3rd “ROTARY” international competition (Moscow, 2005), 3rd place in the 6th international “Nutcracker” competition (Moscow, 2005), 1st place in the 8th international Vladimir Krainev young pianists competition (Kharkov, Ukraine, 2006), and the audience favorite prize of the 7th international television competition “Nutcracker” (Moscow, 2006). At his age of 12 Sergey performed his first solo concert in Moscow and after that participated in a number of concerts and festivals in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, and Korea. In 2008 he recorded his first solo CD, and in 2011 – a new CD dedicated to the 200-year anniversary of Franz Liszt.
|Advanced Category, age 18 and upNo participants of the Advanced category were nominated “Best Internet Performer” this year.|
Kasia Bitner, 20, of Aliso Viejo, California, began studying voice at the age of nine. Her primary focus is Classical music, but she has expanded her repertoire to include Broadway and Folk music. She has studied music with Dubravka Zubovic, Bill Vendice, Edward Sayegh, Thomas Macfarlane, Frances Young Bennett, Marianna Giordano, Grazyna Heller (Poland), and Dr. Michael Warren. She is a student at The University of California, Irvine, where she is presently double majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Vocal Performance/Opera, her two passions in life. Kasia is doing very well in her studies and still has time to give back to the community. She has been selected to the Honors program at UC Irvine and has been recognized as a UC Irvine Regents Scholar. She speaks fluent English and Polish. Kasia has had many accomplishments in her singing career. She was a finalist for the “OC Can you Sing” Competition, a Regional Finalist for the Classical Singer Competition, and a national finalist for the Broadway Space Singing Competition. During a recent visit to Europe, Kasia let her talents shine when she was involved in many activities. Among these included singing solo during Mass in many churches throughout Southern Poland. She was also a guest soloist at the summer festival’s “Czwartki Artystyczne w Brennej” (“Artistic Thursdays”). While in Austria, she sang in the audition room of the Vienna National Opera House.
Grzegorz Miszczyszyn is a Polish classical accordionist who was born in Sanok. He started learning to play the accordion at the age of six at The State Lower Level School of Music in Sanok in the accordion class of Grzegorz Bednarczyk and continued at The State Upper Level School of Music under the direction of Prof. Andrzej Smolik. Currently, Grzegorz is studying at the Academy of Music in Cracow (with Ad. Janusz Pater) and at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo (with Prof. Jon Faukstad and Frode Haltli). He has won prizes in a number of Polish and international competitions, including: 1st place in Przemyśl (2001) and Mława (2002), 2nd place in Bratislava (Slovakia, 2003), 1st place (Chełm, 2005), 1st place (Sanok, 2006), 2nd place (Dąbrowa Górnicza, 2009). Grzegorz has participated in many masterclasses conducted by leading accordionists (M. Rantanen, C. Jacomucci, O. Murray). He has received a number of scholarships from The Minister of Culture and Arts, The Prime Minister and Musical Safety Pin J&S Pro Bono Poloniae Foundation.
Helena Basilova was born in Moscow where she began studying piano at an early age. As the daughter of two pianists, music has always played an important role in her life. Helena moved to the Netherlands at the age of seven. There she studied at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with pianists David Kuyken and Hakon Austbo. In 2010 she moved to New York City to study with acclaimed Spanish pianist José Ramón Mendez at New York University. Helena was a finalist for several Dutch competitions and was awarded the ‘Debut Series’ in March 2008. Helena performed concerts in Spain, Russia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Iceland, Aruba and New York. Helena’s chamber music projects for 2011 include Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and a collaboration with the Syrene Saxophone Quartet for performances of Franck’s piano quintet and works by the Russian composer E. Denisov. Last season Helena performed with Franz von Chossy in crossover projects which featured the combination of classical music with jazz. Helena Basilova has received scholarships from NYU, Nuffic and the Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds and currently lives and performs in New York City.
Begonia Shao-Hsun Chang, born in 1980, is a native Taiwanese pianist, who has performed as a soloist and chamber musician extensively in Taiwan and the United States. Her major performances include the 2000 tour across Taiwan with National Taiwan Normal University Wind Orchestra featuring Serge Lancen’s Parade Concerto and the 2001 tour with the orchestra featuring George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” In 2011, she was invited to perform for the former president of Philippines, Fidel Ramos, in Taipei. After Ms. Chang received her Bachelor’s degree of music from National Taiwan Normal University, she advanced her studies for a Master’s degree at the prestigious Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in the USA, working with Alexander Shtarkman. For her outstanding music achievement, she was awarded the coveted Pauline Favin Memorial Award in 2005 upon graduation. She then received scholarship to further her study in Peabody as a Doctoral student and is working towards completion.