Alice Zhang, fifteen, is a sophomore at Vernon Hills High School. Born in Vernon Hills, Alice started studying piano at age four with Brenda Huang. She also takes additional lessons with Professor Eduardus Halim and Dr. Matthew Hagle. Her piano performances have been broadcasted many times in 98.7 WFMT’s Introductions radio program, including solo recital, chamber music, piano duet, and piano concerto performances. This year, she placed third in the Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) national piano duet competition in Baltimore, MD. In 2014, she won second prize in the Junior Division of the Emilio del Rosario (EDR) General Piano Concerto Competition, and was named as the Overall Winner of the MYA Junior Division of the National Walgreens Concerto Competition held at Ravinia. The following year, Alice was the youngest of seven finalists in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Youth Auditions and performed at the Chicago Symphony's Orchestra Hall.
An accomplished chamber musician, Alice's group, the Odysseus Trio, advanced to the semifinals of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. In the local community, she is an active performer in many senior facilities and community clubs in the greater Chicago area. She is also a violinist and participates in the Symphony Orchestra of Midwest Young Artists Conservatory.
Grand Prize Winner
Fifteen-year-old Raymond Feng is a sophomore at Sutherland High School in Pittsford, NY. A pupil of Elier Suárez since age five, Raymond has been a top prizewinner of international and national competitions. He has appeared on NPR’s From the Top with the Rochester Philharmonic under the baton of Ward Stare and was selected as a Young Scholar of the Lang Lang International Music Foundation in 2016. Major concert venues Raymond has performed at include Eastman Kodak Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall in NYC, Sanders Theatre at Harvard, and Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago.
Raymond is deeply engaged in giving back to the community. The founded the “Music for Love” project in 2015, which brings music performances to local nursing homes, hospitals, cancer centers, and organizes concerts to raise money for Golisano Children's Hospital. Aside from music, Raymond is an accomplished mathlete, enjoys composing music, and playing tennis.
Scarlett (Xinyue) Zheng is from Nanjing, China. Now a seventeen-year-old junior at Union Catholic High School in New Jersey, she won First Prize at the 8th International Nice Côte d'Azur Piano Competition. That competition grew her confidence, and she loves to perform and share music with other people. Earlier, she gave three recitals in Xiamen at the Wuyuan Concert Hall, and a solo recital in Nanjing at the Nanyi Concert hall. In China she studied with Shuren Sun and Xianjie Zhu, and now she studies with Susan Starr.
Thirteen year old Aliya Alsafa began studying piano at the age of four at the Music Institute of Chicago. She was the first prize winner of the Emilio Del Rosario Concerto Competition, the Chopin Youth Competition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Walgreens National Concerto Early Music Division Competition. Aliya has played at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Ravinia Bennett Gordon Hall, and Symphony Center for the “Keys to the City” festival hosted by Emanuel Ax. She was also selected for the inaugural Allianz Junior Music Camp through the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. Aliya currently studies piano with Matti Raekallio and Sueanne Metz. Soon after she began playing piano, Aliya took an interest in composition. In 2015, she won first prize in state and regional contests and second place nationally in MTNA for composition. Aliya is a Davidson Young Scholar and attends the Whitney Young Academic Center in Chicago, IL.
Before moving to the USA, Siyu Yang studied with Ming-Duo Li at the Shanghai Music College and competed extensively in China. Most recently he was in the Young Classical Virtuoso of Tomorrow Competition. His solo recitals and chamber music performances venues include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, NY, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Jacobs Music Steinway 164th Anniversary Concert. The sixteen year old is a student at Syosset High School, NY where he is the pianist for their jazz ensemble, performing in the District Jazz Festival as well as in pit orchestra for a variety of musicals. Siyu studies with Amy Yang, a professor at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Judges Discretionary Award
David Godar is seventeen years old, from Cincinnati, OH, and is a junior at Sycamore High School. He started to play piano at age three, and has competed since the age of seven. David won the Pre-College Buckeye Auditions, received Honorable Mention at the International Young Artist Piano Competition in Washington, DC, and won the Blue Ash Young Artist Concerto Competition. David was a finalist in the Overture Awards in Cincinnati, and he is a recipient of the Cincinnati Symphony Club Scholarship, the Gino DiMario Scholarship, and the Clifton Music Club Piano Competition Scholarship. At age thirteen he made his orchestral debut with the Blue Ash/Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and one year later he played as a soloist with the Middletown Symphony Orchestra. He also returned to perform the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Blue Ash Orchestra in 2015. He is a recipient of the National YoungArts Foundation Merit Award, and he also won the Paducah Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition along with the College Conservatory of Music Preparatory Piano Competition. David is a student of Hitomi Koyama.
Christian Chiu, fourteen, is completing eighth grader at Fort Couch Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of ten, he made his orchestral debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He has been a first prize winner of the solo division at the Duquesne Young Artist National Competition and of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Young Artist Competition, and he has been selected to perform at Weill Recital Hall as winner of the Pittsburgh International Piano Competition. Additionally, he was selected as a finalist for NPR's From The Top auditions. Christian has appeared as a guest pianist with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, and he participated in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition and the Southeastern Piano Festival (SEPF) in 2016. He likes playing music from all different periods, and especially enjoys performing the works of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Outside of his musical pursuits, Christian’s favorite activities include playing soccer, chess, ping pong, and golf, and watching hockey games. He currently studies privately with Professor Natasha Snitkovsky of Duquesne University.
Sixteen-year-old William Yang of Lexington, MA has been honored at numerous competitions, including second prize at the Midwest International Piano Competition and Festival in 2014, and winner of the special Bach Prize at the 2015 Young Artists Cleveland International Piano Competition. Most recently he was a semifinalist in the 2016 Cooper International Piano Competition. William has performed since the age of seven, and in 2010 he was the featured soloist in NPR’s From the Top. His orchestral performances include Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of Animals with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2010 and Edvard Grieg’s Concerto in A Minor with the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra in 2012.
William is a student at Lexington High School and at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where he studies piano with Alexander Korsantia. He loves chamber music, swimming, and table tennis.