2019 Intermediate Contestants

 Amy Bao

Sixteen year-old AMY BAO began lessons at the age of five, and is a student of Annamarie and John McCarthy. She has also participated in masterclasses with Anton Nel and Sasha Starcevic. Amy has been enrolled in the Preparatory Division at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and during summers, has attended the International Institute for Young Musicians at the University of Kansas and the Southeastern Piano Festival. She has received top prizes in numerous competitions, including the United States International Music Competition, East Bay Music Competition and the Young Artist Competition of the Etude Club of Berkeley. She is currently a junior at Monte Vista High School in Danville, California.

     Andre Nguyen

Fifteen year-old ANDRE NGUYEN is a sophomore at Mission Viejo High School. He also plays cello in the school orchestra. He currently studies the piano with Dr. He-Lyun Chung. Honors include: 1st place in the 2016 Los Angeles Young Musician International Competition; 1st place in the Glendale Piano Competition; 1st place in the 2016 Kathryn Gawartin Chopin Piano Competition; and multiple gold medals in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival. Besides piano, he also enjoys listening to music and playing tennis and basketball with his friends and family.

  Angel Wang  

Sixteen year old ANGEL WANG was born into a family of musicians in Los Angeles, California. He began to study piano at five, and gave his first public appearance soon after. In 2012, Wang moved to Russia to study at the Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music (College) with Professor Tatiana Zelikman. Today he is studying with Mikhail Khoklov.
At the age of nine he made his debut with the Vaasa orchestra in Finland. Since then, he has performed with the Moscow Symphony, Kostroma Province Symphony and Symphony Orchestra of Czech Republic. He has appeared in solo recital at many famous concert halls in Moscow, Vienna, Los Angeles, New York, Minsk (Belorussia), Olomouc (Czech Republic) and the Ferrara (Italia).
In 2018, Mr. Wang was the winner in the International Festival of Young Pianists named after G.G. Neuhaus in Moscow, performed in the 2016 Rheingau Music Festival in Germany, as well as the 2012 and 2017 International Festival ‘Moscow Meets Friends and at the 2012 and 2017 American Fine Arts Festival in New York. He is a scholarship recipient, and an active participant of the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation.
In 2017, he received an honor from the International public foundation Russian Foundation for Peace, for his highly creative skills and outstanding professional performance. He is also a grant-recipient from the Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, in the field of culture and art. Besides piano, Angel is a winner of many national and international percussion competitions as well as ballroom dance. He also composes songs, and likes to travel.

        Anna Audenis

Thirteen year-old ANNA AUDENIS is a young, rising star pianist from California. She began the piano at the age of five, and has since participated in a number of festivals and competitions in the USA and Europe – charming audiences and judges alike with her talent and musicality. Her most recent achievements in 2017/18 were 2nd place at the Krystian Tkaczevsky International Piano Competition in Poland, and 2nd place at the San Jose International Piano Competition in San Jose, California. Moreover, she received 1st place at Great Composer International Piano competition and 1st place at the Kathryn Gawartin Chopin Piano Competition. Anna was also featured at the TEDX conference in the Czech Republic and made her orchestral debut at age nine with the Napolitana Orchestra in Italy. Adding to her growing experience as a soloist, she has also performed for the past four years in various chamber groups.
Anna has been fortunate to study with Eduardo Delgado, Dmitry Rachmanov, and currently Rufus Choi.

 Anna Yakura

Sixteen year-old ANNA YAKURA is a junior at Santa Monica High School in Southern California. She has been studying piano under Dr. Sarkis Baltaian since she moved from New Mexico at age 12. Anna received several 1st prizes including the Professional Music Teachers Auditions in New Mexico (PMTNM), and performed the Mozart concerto with the New Mexico Philharmonic at age ten. Anna received 1st place in the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) Sonata Competition in 2018, and 2nd place in the CAPMT Romantic/Impressionistic Competition in 2016. At the 2018 Young Beethoven Competition, she was invited to San Jose as a finalists’ alternate. She also became a finalist in the Classics Alive Artists Competition in 2016.

Chaithawat Atiphophai

Fifteen year-old CHAITHAWAT ATIPHOPHAI began his music studies at the age of five at the Yamaha Music School with Aj Suview Chaowanawuddthiku. Since the beginning of 2013, he has studied the piano with Dr. Indhuon Srikaranonda Baskauskas.
In 2015, he received 1st place in the 16th Osaka Music Competition (12 and under), as well as 1st place, a Chopin Prize, and the Exceptional Young Musician prize from the International Music Competition in Paris. He was the first place solo winner of the 2016 YTMF Competition (ages 12-15), 2nd place in the 2016 Rising Star Grand prix in Germany, 2nd place in the 2016, 10th YOKOHAMA International Music Competition (13 to 15 year-olds) and 3rd place in the 2017, 1st International Robert Schumann Piano Competition for Young Pianists. He was also a Bronze prize winner in the 2015, 6th ASEAN international Chopin piano competition Malaysia. He has performed in masterclasses with Professor Rolf Dieter Arens of The Liszt School of Music Weimar, Germany, Professor Carlo Levi Minzi of G. Verdi, Conservatory of Music at Milan, as well as Prof. Dmitri Bashkirov、Prof.Stanislav Ioudenitch and Prof. William Nabore of Lake Como Piano Academy.            

 Crystal Cheng

Thirteen year-old CRYSTAL CHENG, is a scholarship student of John McCarthy in the Pre-College Division at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has also performed in masterclasses for John Perry and Jean-David Coen as a student in the John Perry Academy. Crystal has received numerous awards as a pianist, including 1st place in the 2016 Taiwan Music Competition. In 2017, she performed twice in New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, as a top prize winner in the American Protégé International Piano Competition. Crystal enjoys reading, creative writing, and playing the cello. She is currently a 7th grader at Kennedy Middle School in Cupertino.

Claire (Cheng-Ming) Chiang

Sixteen year-old CLAIRE CHIANG was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Plano, Texas. She is a frequent prize winner of international, national, state and local competitions, including International Chopin Youth Competition (Houston), MTNA, Texas MTA, Collin County Young Artist Competition, and Dallas Symphonic Festival. In the summer of 2018, she was selected by the Fine Arts Chamber Players of Dallas to be featured as a “Rising Star” presenting a solo and collaborative recital for an audience of over 500 in Dallas’ Moody Performance Hall. She has performed in masterclasses for many artist-professors from around the country. Claire’s early piano studies were with Andrey Ponochevny and has spent the past seven years with Dr. Catharine Lysinger at Southern Methodist University. She is currently a sophomore at Shepton High School where she excels in all subjects, particularly science. When not practicing or studying, she participates in regional and state science fairs, indulges in books, and sleeps.

    Emma Hoglund

Sixteen year-old EMMA HOGLUND has received numerous awards, prizes and scholarships in local and national competitions, including getting 1st place at the 2018 Canadian Music Competition in Montreal. She was also selected as National Representative for the 2018 BC Performing Arts Festival, 2018 winner of Muzewest Concert’s first scholarship which included a private solo recital, and most recently, the 2018 recipient of the National Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music for highest mark in North America for the Associate Performer’s Diploma. In addition, CBC Music included Emma in its 2017 list of ‘30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.’ In June of 2017, at the age of fourteen, Emma won the Senior Division of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Future of Excellence Concerto Competition, with an opportunity to perform with the VSO in January 2018, which she did to a standing ovation as well as a return invitation for two concert engagements in their 2018-19 season.
Summer activities included attending John Perry Academy and performances in Florence and Perugia with orchestra as part of 2018 MusicFest Perugia. Emma’s teachers include Sasha Starcevich, Ilana Vered and Sergei Saratovsky.
When Emma is not playing the piano, she enjoys sports, baking, crafts, and service-related activities. She has participated in UNICEF and ALS fundraising events as a guest artist and feels very strongly about making our world a better place. Her school awarded her the 2018 Citizenship Award, recognizing these contributions.

Frederick Chiu

Fourteen year-old FREDERICK CHIU started learning piano under the guidance of his father at age five. In 2018, he won first prize in the MTAC Dozen Charitable Trust Fund Concerto Competition. He received second place in the United States International Music Competition and the Lansum International Music Festival. Frederick also received first place in 2017 Keyboard Concertos of Southern California Junior Bach Festival. He performed at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall as a first prize winner of the 2017 Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition. Besides piano, Frederick enjoys reading during his spare time. His current teacher is Ms. Jenny Shin.


  James Kim

Fifteen year-old JAMES KIM is a 10th grader at Walnut Hill School for the Arts He moved from Los Angeles to Lexington, MA. two years ago. Since then, he has been studying with Max Levinson. James has performed widely in the L.A. area, including a concerto with the Palisades Symphony and a gig on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, together with concert pianist Lang Lang. James has been recognized with multiple scholarships and has been a winner in many local, regional and international competitions, including 1st place finishes in the statewide Kathryn Gawartin Chopin Competition, the CAPMT District III Sonata Competition, the Alice Frazier Kitchen Competition, and the SYMF and Glendale Piano Competition. Recently, he was selected as a finalist for the Fidelity Investments Young Artists Competition and placed 3rd in the Steinway Piano Competition. In addition, he received multiple scholarships from the Westside committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. James enjoys mathematics, biology, and robotics, and also likes to bike, travel, and play basketball and baseball.

Johann Zhao 

Fifteen year-old JOHANN ZHAO was born in Salzburg, Austria. At age five, he received his first piano lessons at the Musikum Salzburg. At the age of nine he was admitted to the pre-college of the Uni Mozarteum Salzburg and is now studying piano with Prof. Cordelia Höfer-Teutsch. In 2016 Johann won First place at the 32nd International Smetana Competition in the Czech Republic. In 2017 he won First place with exceptional Talent at the New York Golden Classical Music Award. In 2017 he received a Gold Medal at the New York AADGT Competition. Also in 2017 he received the First place in the Rising Stars Competition in Berlin. And from 2014 thru 2018 he received multiple first prizes of the Austrian National Young Musician Competition. Johann had his first concert experience at the age of nine in the University Mozarteum Solidär Concerthall. At the age of ten he played his first Mozart Piano Concerto in “Salzburger Schloss Konzert” with “Salzburger Solisten Chamber music Team”.
At the age of fourteen, he played a Concert with the Bad Reichenhaller Philarmonie in Bavaria, Germany and will perform again with that same orchestra in 2019 as well as with the Berliner Philarmonie Orchester in Berlin.

  Jonathan Kuo

Sixteen year-old JONATHAN KUO started piano lessons at the age of seven. His passion for music has led him to many achievements on the national and international levels. After only two years of piano study with Iswargia Sudarno, Jonathan came in 3rd in the Indonesia Steinway Youth Piano Competition (2012) Category A–under 10 years old, and 2nd along with the Best Performance of Mazurka prize in the 5th ASEAN International Chopin Piano Competition in Kuala Lumpur. Since then, he came in 4th at Kawai Youth International Piano Competition in Wuhan, China (2013) – Childrens Category – under 12 years old, 1st place in the Indonesia Steinway Youth Piano Competition (2014) Category B – under 13 years old, 1st place in Thailands Chopin International Competition in 2014, 2nd place in the Medan International Piano Competition in 2015 – under 15 years old, 2nd place in the Indonesia Steinway Youth Piano Competition in 2016 – age 10-17 and then 2nd place again in the 2018 Competition. Jonathan has also participated actively in many masterclasses under international level pianists and pedagogues. He has appeared as a pianist with the Jakarta Concert Orchestra, as well as with the Jakarta Sinfonietta. Jonathan gave a major solo recital in December 2016 in Jakarta, as part of the Steinway Concert Series and performed with orchestra at the Young Steinway Artist Gala Concert last October.

Justin Wahby 

Twelve year-old JUSTIN WAHBY, is currently studying with Dr. Natsuki Fukasawa and Prof. John McCarthy. He is a student of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College program. Justin has received top prizes at events such as the New Star Piano Competition, Orfeo International Competition, US Open Piano Competition, USIMC, Auburn YA Competition, Alexander and Buono International, and Ghiglieri Piano Competition.
Justin has been playing clarinet for the past 6 years and is part of the Sacramento Youth Symphony. Besides music, Justin enjoys playing sports such as tennis. He’s also the president of Franklin High School’s Music Society, where he is a Sophomore.

  Kevin Cho

Sixteen year-old KEVIN CHO received a 1st place award in the 2018 National MTNA Junior Division, as well as in the Southwestern Division and state of California MTNA. He also received 1st place in the 2017 & 2018 Lansum International Competition and in the 2017 Young Muse International Competition. He has performed two solo concerts in Carnegie Hall and had concerto performances with the Antelope Valley Symphony, Southwestern Youth Festival Symphony and the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony.
Kevin was also the winner of David Weiss Scholarship from the Young Musicians Foundation. He has had Master classes with Jean Thibaudet, John Perry, Sasha Starchevich, Dmitri Rachmanov, Luncida Carver and Charles Fierro. Kevin participated in John Perry’s 2017 Summer Academy and the 2018 Montecito Music festival. He performs regularly at the local Senior living facilities and is interested in studying the field of medicine. He volunteers at the local hospital and has shadowed some physicians. Kevin also tutors AP Chemistry, AP Biology and AP Music Theory at his school.

Maxine Park

MAXINE PARK, a 9th grader at Phillips Exeter Academy, has been a student of Mila Filatova since age seven. She has received top prizes at numerous regional and international competitions, including the Chopin International Piano Competition, Paderewski International Competition, Steinway Society of Massachusetts Piano Competition, and New Hampshire Granite State Piano Competition. Maxine has performed as a soloist with several orchestras, including the New York Concerto Sinfonietta at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Nashua Chamber Orchestra as a guest artist in the 2016-2017 season, and the MostArts Festival Orchestra at Alfred University as national finalist in the Young Pianist Competition. In 2018, she performed at the International Chopin Festival, “Lato Z. Chopinem” in Busko-Zdroj, Poland, featured in the “World Piano Talents” Series. In addition to performing multiple times at Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall, Maxine has also performed in master classes with Simone Dinnerstein, Emilie Naoumoff, John Perry, and Ilana Vered. She was also featured on NPR’s From the Top and two From the Top videos productions (A Star Wars Musical Mashup, Fantastic Musicians and Where to Find Them). Outside of music, Maxine enjoys math, writing and poetry. In 2017, she was named a Caroline D. Bradley Scholar and awarded a full four-year, merit-based high school scholarship.

   Mi-Hyun Suh

Fifteen year-old MI-HYUN SUH, is a sophomore at Diamond Bar High School. She began studying music by receiving voice training and then piano lessons at age five. She is currently studying piano with Rufus Choi. Mi-Hyun has won many honors, such as many top MTAC OC and LA branches awards, MTAC Southern California Concerto Competition Second Alternate and Honorable Mentions, Glendale Piano Competition Honorable Mention, DBHS Concerto Competition Winner and numerous SYMF awards. Mi-Hyun has also given solo recitals in nursing homes. Her piano trio, Meisll Trio, received 2nd place and the Beethoven Prize at the Pasadena Chamber Music Competition. Mi-Hyun also plays the flute. Two years ago, she was Principal Flutist and winner of the Concerto competition in the Claremont Young Musicians Orchestra. Outside of music, Mi-Hyun enjoys drawing, reading, and helping out in her school Christian Club. She has also done Korean traditional folk dancing and was a member of the Korean American Young Artists choir and California Children’s Choir. She wishes to pursue music as a career and share the beauty of music with others.

Ningxin Zhan        

Sixteen year-old NINGXIN ZHAN was born in Nanjing, China and started playing piano at the age of five. She now studies the piano with Natalia Fillipova at the Middle School affiliated to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She wins a scholarship every year at the school. She won the 3rd place at the 8th Shenzhen International Piano Open and was a bronze prize winner of the 3rd Huanglong International Piano Competition in 2018. She likes playing guitar and listening to music.

   Perren-Luc Thiessen
Sixteen year-old Perren-Luc Thiessen studies with Dr. Tamas Ungar and Dr. Mary Humm. He made his Orchestra Debut at 12 in Italy. Orchestras he has performed with include the Evgeny Svetlanov Orchestra (in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall), Irktusk Symphony Orchestra in Sibera, Fort Worth Symphony, and Torun Symphony in Poland. He has performed with conductors Alexander Sladkovsky, Lapinsch Ilmar, Lio Kuokman, and Przemyslaw Fiugajski among others. International Prizes comprise Diplomat of the 2018 Grand Piano Competition in Moscow, First Prize and Award for Best Performance of a Romantic Work at the 2017 Young Pianist of the North International Piano Competition, First Prize in the Debut International Piano Competition with his 2017 Debut Recital in Carnegie (Weill) Hall and the Ehrbar Saal in Vienna, and Second Prize, Most Promising Young Artist, and Best Chopin Performance in the Tkaczewski International Competition in Poland. As a Young Artist participant in Piano Texas, T.I.M.M. and Semper Music Festivals in Italy and the Paderewski Piano Academy in Poland, he worked with Berndt Goetzke, Balazs Skokolay, Stanislav Ioudenitch, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Vladimir Feltsman, and Yoheved Kaplinsky to name a few.

 Ryan Sheng

Fifteen year-old RYAN SHENG is from San Jose, California. He began learning to play the piano at age five and has performed internationally since the age of six. Most recently, in October of 2017 he was invited to perform a solo recital at the Brussels Music Festival in Belgium – becoming the youngest pianist ever invited to perform at this prodigious festival. He was one of the contestants in the 2016 Gina Bachauer International Competition and a prize winner of many local and international competitions. He has received 1st place and special prize of Best Performance of Bence Kutrik’s ‘Introverted Confessions’ at the 10th Rosario Marciano International Competition in Austria; 1st place in the 2018 Pacific Music Competition in California; 2nd place at the International Whitenight Competition in Russia, 1st place at the Schlern International Competition in Italy as well as multiple 1st place awards in the US Open Music Competition. In the summer of 2017, he won 1st place in the North Coast International Competition, earning him a performance in Carnegie Hall.
Besides playing the piano, Ryan enjoys fencing, playing basketball and playing the oboe. He is currently the principal oboist in the Evergreen Valley High School concert Band.

    Victor Shlyakhtenko

Seventeen year-old VICTOR SHLYAKTENKO is a student of Teresa de Jong Pombo at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras, performing piano concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Grieg and Liszt. Victor’s first prize awards include Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, Edith Knox Concerto Competition and American Prize in Piano.
Passionate about community engagement, Victor is a founding member of California Young Musicians, a network of young performers who share their art through concerts and lectures. Victor has been awarded a scholarship from the Chopin Foundation. He is currently a Young Scholar of the Lang Lang Foundation and a recipient of the Richard D. Colburn Scholarship at the Colburn School.

Xiaojie Xu

Sixteen year-old XIAOJIE XU is from Zunyi, China. Xiaojie started playing the piano at the age of three. She is now a 10th grader who studies at the Middle School affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music. She won third place in the Steinbergh Piano Competition in 2017. She shows great interest in Chinese literature and western music history.