2022 Festival Participants

Picture of Spencer ChaSpencer Cha
Spencer Cha, 17, is a pianist and composer from Los Altos, CA. He currently studies piano with Dr. Frederick Weldy and Jon Nakamatsu and composition with John Syzygy. A two-time YoungArts winner in classical music, Spencer has won prizes in multiple national and international competitions, including third prize in the San Jose International Piano competition and first place in the Music Teachers National Association Composition Competition. Spencer had his orchestral debut with the Palo Alto Philharmonic in 2019 and will perform with the Golden State Youth Orchestra and the Harker School Orchestra in 2022. He won the Chopin SF Competition, CAPMT State Honors Competition, the Marilyn Mindell Competition and has performed at Carnegie Hall. His compositions have been premiered by ensembles across the country, and he was inducted into both the Music Teachers Association of California Young Composers Guild and Young Artists Guild in 2021. A senior at the Harker School and principal oboist in his school orchestra, Spencer also enjoys skiing, playing tennis and serving in student government.
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Picture of Jerry ChangJerry Chang
Jerry Chang, from St Louis, Missouri, started piano at age 4 and currently studies with Dr. Zena Ilyashov and Dr. Sasha Starcevich. Jerry’s recent accomplishments include 1st Prize of Chopin International Piano Competition at Hartford, Chicago International Music Competition, MTNA Missouri State Piano Competition, Gold Medal of Steinway Junior Piano Competition, second prize Paderewski International Piano Competition, and third prize at the Kaufman Youth International Piano Competition. He was also selected as the co-winner of the Artist Presentation Society. Jerry has performed with the Alton Symphony Orchestra in Illinois, the Virtuosi Brunensis Orchestra in Italy, and the Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis. He appeared on NPR's "From the Top" program with the first appearance on show #356 in Boston in 2009, in 2020 he appeared multiple times on "From the Top" Daily Joy programs and was invited to perform a solo virtual mini-concert with the program. In 2021, Jerry was invited to perform on NPR’s” Tiny Desk Concert” as one of the four students in the nation. He has also taken master classes from renowned musicians and attended music camps during the summers.
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Picture of David ChoiDavid Choi
8th grader in Stanford Online High School, David started piano lesson at age 5 under his mother, Won Choi. In the same year, David entered in Dallas Solo Piano Competition and got the Fourth Place in Division I, age 8 and younger division, as the youngest participant. Since then, He became a winner of various competitions including 2nd Place in Edith Knox Performance Competition by Peninsula Symphony Orchestra (2022), Gold Medalist in Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition (2021), National winner of MTNA Competition (2021), 1st place in Vernell Gregg Young Artists Competition (2021), and etc.
David made his orchestra debut with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under maestro Salvador Brotons in January 2022, and also made solo debut in Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York at age 6, as Grand Prix winner in International Youth Piano Competition by Chopin Society of Texas. David had master classes with Dr. Alvin Zhu and Dr. Daria Rabotkina and took lessons with Dr. Julian Martin and Dr. Joseph Rackers in 2019 Texas State International Piano Festival. From 2017 to 2021, David had studied with Dr. Alex McDonald, and now is studying with Ms. Hyejin Kim and Mr. Fabio Bidini in Colburn School.
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Picture of Kimiko DarcyKimiko Darcy
Kimiko attends the Latin School of Chicago. She studies with Brenda Huang. Kimiko’s awards include: First Place, 2021 MTNA Illinois State Competition, Senior Division; in 2021, First Place, Piano D, United States International Music Competition (USIMC); in 2021, Second Place in the VI Krystian Tkaczewski International Piano Competition; First Place 2018 Walgreens’ National Concerto Competition, Open Junior Division, and Overall Junior Division Winner; 1st Place in the 2018 Baltimore International Piano Competition, Junior Division; in 2017 and 2018, First Place, Society of American Musicians Competition; Winner of the 2016 Texas State Young Concerto Competition; Winner of the 2015 DePaul University Concerto Competition; and First Place in the 2015 Emilio Del Rosario Concerto Competition, Elementary Division. Kimiko performed on Chicago’s WFMT FM Introductions. Kimiko is a scholarship recipient for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 from the Chopin Foundation of the United States Scholarship Program for Young Pianists. In 2021, Kimiko and her sister, Eriko, produced and performed “Play for Justice!”, a YouTube livestream concert, to raise funds for social justice causes. Kimiko's non-profit fund-raising efforts include recitals in: Japan; Lesa, Italy; Chicago; and Huletts Landing, New York. The proceeds of her charitable performances support the victims of domestic violence.
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Picture of Wanqing Anita HaoWanqing Anita Hao
Anita Hao is a fifteen-year-old pianist from Canada. Recently, Anita was accepted into the Morningside Music Bridge Scholarship Program. Last year, she won 1st prize at the Canadian Music Competition and 2nd prize at the Conero International Piano Competition. In past years, she participated in various music festivals including MusicFest Perugia in Italy, International e-Piano MusicFest in Minnesota, and the Curtis Young Artists Summer Program in Philadelphia. She also won various prizes including the Rotary C3 back in 2018 and 2021, grand prize at the Rocky Mountain International Piano Competition, and 2nd prize at the Kosciuszko Foundation International Chopin Competition. Annually, she wins multiple prizes at the Calgary Performing Arts Festival and the Alberta Music Festival. Anita has performed extensively in Canada, debuting with the Calgary Civic Symphony in 2018, and again, in 2021. Currently, she is studying under Professor Krzysztof Jablonski. Throughout her musical years, she has taken masterclasses with many distinguished professors and musicians like Jamie Parker, Jin Zhang, Sasha Starcevich, Glen Montgomery, and many more. As a part of the Academy and APP Program in MRU, Anita also regularly rehearses chamber and performs for her peers, exploring various genres of music and ensembles.
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Picture of Sophia KimSophia Kim
Sophia Kim, 16, studies at the Juilliard Pre-College Program with Hung-Kuan Chen and Tema Blackstone. Sophia is the first prize winner of the 2022 David D. Dubois Piano Competition, the 2022 Lyra Competition, the 2021 National Young Virtuosi Recital Competition, the 2019 Steinway Piano Competition, and the 2018 Juilliard Concerto Competition. She is the second prize winner of the 2022 Emory University Young Artist Piano Competition, the 2020 Virtual Steinway Piano Competition and was a finalist at the 2021 Lyra Competition and a semifinalist at the 2022 Ysaye Junior International Competition, the 2022 American Prize Competition, the 2021 William Knabe Piano Competition, and the 2020 West Virginia International Competition. She was recently selected as 1 out of 22 contestants in the New York International Piano Competition. Sophia was also selected to be a Fellow for the Artemisia Foundation for the 2021-22 season.
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Picture of Jinyoung KweonJinyoung Kweon
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jinyoung started her piano studies at the age of eight. She has recently won the first place winner of the 2022 Boston Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the first prize at the 2021 Minnesota International Piano E-Competition, and the grand prize at the 2021 New York International Classical Music Competition. She was also invited to the 2021 Morningside Music Bridge Festival and the 2020 Hilton Head International Piano Competition. In addition to the second prize at the 2018 Ettlingen International Piano Competition in Germany, she received the first prize at many prestigious competitions in Korea. Her concert and recital performances include an upcoming BSO Family Concert in Boston Symphony Hall, First Monday at Jordan Hall Concert in New England Conservatory, Solo recital at Parish Center of Arts Piano Series in MA, Kirishima International Music Festival, Kumho Here & Now Prodigy Concert, Korea Chamber Orchestra Prodigy Concert, Kumho Prodigy - Solo Recital, Korea Young Artist Music Festival Concert, and many more. She is currently a Grade 11 student at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in MA, studying under the direction of Haesun Paik at New England Conservatory of Music since 2020.
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Picture of Brian LiBrian Li
Brian Li, 14, is a student of Dr. Sasha Starcevich. Brian has won many awards from local, national, and international music competitions. In 2018, Brian made his orchestral debut in Perugia, Italy, where he performed beethoven Piano Concerto No.1 with the Virtuosi Brunensis Orchestra. He was the first prize and schorlarship winner of the 2018 Crescendo International Competition. Brian was also the overall highest mark prize winner of 2018 Pacific International Youth Piano Competition. In 2019, Brain was awarded the first place in the Canadian Music Competition. He was also the prize winner of solo and concerto performances in the 2020 CDMF festival, KPU International Music Festival, and Pacific NW Piano Competition in Seattle. In 2021, Brian won the Gold Medal in the Vancouver International Music Competition. He was also the Gold Medal winner in the Chopin NW Piano Competition in Seattle for both 2021 and 2022. Brian was the Overall Prize winner of the 2021 Steinway Piano Competition Canada and teh First Grand Prize winner of 2021 Chicago International Music Competition.
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Picture of Katherine LiuKatherine Liu
Katherine Liu, 17, has received top prizes in numerous piano competitions, including Grand Prizes at the Fidelity Investments Young Artists Competition and the Chopin International Piano Competition in Connecticut, and First Prizes at the Krystian Tkaczewski International Piano Competition, Steinway Society Piano Competition, NEC Preparatory Concerto Competition, and the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition for Young Pianists. Katherine has performed as a soloist with several orchestras, including the Brockton Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. She is also the bronze medalist at the 2019 Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition as well as a winner of the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, International Piano-E Competition, and 2021 National YoungArts Competition. Since her Carnegie Hall debut in 2015, Katherine has performed several times in the Cartoon Festival at Boston’s Symphony Hall. She also appeared on NPR's From the Top at Jordan Hall in 2016 and performed at the “Lato z chopinem” festival in Poland. Katherine is a third-year recipient of the Chopin Foundation scholarship. Katherine has worked with great musicians including Alexander Ghindin, Valery Kuleshov, Krzysztof Jablonski, Kevin Kenner, Alexander Kobrin, Piotr Paleczny, Ewa Poblocka, Keith Lockhart, and John Perry. She currently studies with HaeSun Paik at the New England.
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Picture of Matthew LiuMatthew Liu
Matthew Liu, age 14, has been studying piano for 8 years and is currently a student of Professor Jack Winerock at the University of Kansas. Recently, he won the first prize in Kansas City Symphony Young Artist concerto competition, best Chopin performance in MTNA junior piano, first prize at International Young Artist Piano Competition in D.C., first prize at Chopin International Competition in Hartford CT, first prize in Paderewski International Piano Competition, first prize in Conero International Piano Competition, and was a semi-finalist at the 2021 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. He has performed as a competition winner at venues such as Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, IN, Ward Recital Hall at Catholic University of America in D.C., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City. In 2019, he performed with Midwestern Chamber as a concerto competition winner, and KC Star commended his performance as “dazzling, …, the music played expressively, … a joy to hear”, and “was phenomenal”. In addition to music, Matthew loves to play tennis and chess, and enjoys spending time with families and friends.
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Picture of Elsie LuElsie Lu
Elsie began studying piano at the age of five with Rada Bukhman and immediately adored classical music. Currently a pupil of Dr. Sasha Starcevich, Elsie is eager to continue to explore and pursue music as her career. As a winner of the American Protégé, Elsie attained the opportunity to perform in Carnegie hall at the age of nine. She won 1st place at 2021 Canadian Music Competition, platinum prize at Grand Metropolitan Competition, 3rd of professional category at Chicago International Competition and special mention of Young Euregio Competition. She’s gold medalist at US Northwest Chopin Festival, 2nd of 6th NW Ensemble Competition and Steinway Junior Competition. Most recently Elsie was the winner of concerto division of 50th SYAMF, and the receiver of Fazioli Trophy at CDMF festival. Elsie appeared with various orchestras including Bruensis Virtuosi, MusicFest Perugia and Bellevue Symphony. The festivals she attended gave her opportunities engage in workshops and masterclasses with the renowned professors such as Robert McDonald, Alexander Braginsky, Ursula Oppens, Boris Slutsky, Arthur Greene etc. Elsie enjoys exploring all mediums of art. Her poems were published in the book Intuition, and her paintings were published in the music collection book “The Magic Link” (by Rada Bukhman).
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Picture of Jeston LuJeston Lu
Jeston Lu, 16, is a junior from Fremont, CA, and studies piano with Professor Hans Boepple. He loves learning, composing and improvising music. He is a winner at the 2022 YoungArts National Arts Competition (Honorable Mention) and a MTAC Young Artist Guild finalist. He is the California state winner and alternate of Southwest Division at 2022 MTNA Senior Piano Competition and 2022 CAPMT Concerto Competition, North Region winner. In 2021, he won the Ross McKee Piano Competition, Celia Mendez Young Pianists Beethoven Competition, and the Pacific Music Society Competition. He was the Gold Medalist at the 2021 Canadian International Music Competition and 2020 Seattle International Bach Festival. He won second place at the 2019 Kaufman Music Center International Youth Piano Competition and received the Steinway & Sons Award for Best Performance of a Virtuoso Etude. He received the first prize at Chopin San Francisco Piano Competition and was the winner of Marilyn Mindell Piano Junior Competition. Last year he participated in Indiana University Summer Piano Academy, and has recently been admitted to the summer Young Artists Piano Program of BU Tanglewood Institute. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, reading, playing tennis, hiking, and sharing his compositions on YouTube.
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Picture of Cristian MakhuliCristian Makhuli
Cristian Makhuli, 16, is a high school junior at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Born in Charlotte NC, he began his piano studies at the age of 9. He is a student of Dr. Dmitri Vorobiev and Dr. Paul Nitsch. Cristian made his orchestral debut at the age of 13 with the Winston Salem Symphony as first place winner of the Peter Perret Youth Talent Search playing Beethoven’s 3rd Concerto. He was awarded first place in the 2018 and 2019 Steinway and Sons Piano Competitions. As winner of The Symphony Guild of Charlotte Young Artists Competition he will perform Liszt Concerto No. 1 with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Throughout the course of his studies, he has had the honor of performing in masterclasses with teachers and performers including Robert McDonald, Boris Slutsky, Peter Frankl, Gary Graffman, and Alexander Kobrin. For several years Cristian served as an active volunteer member of the Melodic Minors, a youth-led nonprofit organization that provided community concerts throughout the Charlotte area. He is a founding member of the Charlotte Piano Trio, a nonprofit organization that is committed to providing chamber music concerts throughout the Charlotte area and beyond.
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Picture of Celicia ThendeanCelicia Thendean
Celicia Thendean, 13, started taking piano lesson from Prof. Anna Poklewski at the age of 5. Recently, Celicia also started to have invaluable lessons from Prof. Ilana Vered. Celicia has won many prizes including Second Prize at 2021 Chicago International Music Competition, Elevato Piano Competition, and Napolinova E-competition. First prize at the MTAC VOCE State in Voice plus Instrumental Category, V Future Stars International Piano Competition in Young Musicians Category, 2020 Sumy International Competition, Platinum Medalist at the 2020-2021 Canadian International Music Competition, Best Gold Medalist from US Open Music Competition, and many other competitions. She also won Vivace Award at Vivace Music Festival in Summer 2020 and was invited to perform in Wilmington, North Carolina alongside with Prof. Marina Lomazov, Prof. Joseph Rackers and Prof. Ara Gregorian. Celicia was the winner of the 2021-2022 Livermore-Amador Symphony Competition for Young Musicians and performed Schumann Piano Concerto with the Symphony in February 2022. Celicia also was a scholarship recipient of the 2022 Campana JazzFestival. Celicia attended Music Fest Perugia in 2019, performing Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3. Celicia also enjoys playing cello and oboe was also selected in the 2022 All State Honor Ensemble on both instruments.
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Picture of Luke TurnerLuke Turner
Luke Turner, 18, is from Birmingham, Alabama. Since 2015, he has been a Myra Jackson Blair Scholar at Vanderbilt’s Blair Academy, where he studies with Dr. Heather Conner. He is a two-time MTNA National Finalist and a two-time first prize winner in the Lois Pickard Concerto Competition, sponsored by the Alabama Symphony. He is a 2021 YoungArts Winner and a 2020-21 Chopin Foundation Scholarship Recipient. Most recently, Luke won First Prize in the 2022 Emory Young Artists Piano Competition. He was named a 2021-22 From the Top Fellow and will perform on an upcoming episode of the show. He won Grand Prize in the 2021 Nashville Philharmonic Concerto Competition and received second prize in the 2021 LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Luke performed with the Nashville Symphony in May 2019 after winning Grand Prize at the Curb Concerto Competition and soloed with the Curb Youth Symphony in December of that year. Also in 2019, Luke was a participant in the Cliburn International Junior Piano Festival and won third prize in the 2019 Lee University International Piano Competition. He has performed in masterclasses for renowned artists, including Norman Krieger, Marina Lomazov, Joseph Rackers, and Peter Frankl.
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Picture of Ryan WangRyan Wang
Ryan Wang, 15, currently studies with Professor Hans Boepple. Ryan has received numerous awards, including the 2022 National YoungArts Merit award, semifinalist in the 2021 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, winner of the 2021 MTNA State and Southwest Division piano performance competitions, first place in the CAPMT Contemporary Competition, first place in the Los Angeles International Liszt Piano Competition, first place in the Franz Liszt Center International Piano Competition, first place in the KAMSA competition, winner of the Marilyn Mindell competition, first place in the SF Chopin competition, second place in the Henry and Carol Zeiter Piano Competition, second place in the CAPMT Honors Competition, first alternate in the 2020 MTAC piano solo competition, first alternate in the MTAC piano concerto competition in 2019 and 2018, first place and Outstanding Gold Medalist award in the US Open Music Showcase Piano Solo Competition, second place in the United States International Music Competition, third place in the San Jose International Piano Competition, winner in the Golden State Youth Orchestra solo competition and winner in the Palo Alto Philharmonic concerto movement competition. Ryan performed as a soloist with the Golden State Youth Orchestra in 2018 and the Palo Alto Philharmonic in 2019.
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Picture of Cory WuCory Wu
Cory Wu, 16, has studied piano with Kathleen Sadoff since 2012 and also with Nina Polonsky since 2020. He has won 1st place at numerous piano competitions and festivals, including the 2020 Piano League PianoStar International Piano Competition, 2019 Ohio State MTNA, 2019 Carmel Klavier Concerto Competition, 2020 MTNA Eastern Central Division, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Young Music Concerto Competition. In 2019, Cory made his debut with the New Albany Symphony Orchestra performing Saint-Saën’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor after winning the NASO Student Concerto Competition. In addition, Cory has participated in other various national music events such as the MTNA National Finals, David D. Dubois International Piano Competition, the Ronald Sachs International Music Competition, Indiana University’s Piano Academy, and CIM’s Summer Sonata and Piano Audition Intensive. In 2021, he received the NFMC’s Thelma Byrum award, third place in the Stillman Kelley awards, and second place in the Marilyn Caldwell awards. Also, he was a recipients of the 2021 Chopin Scholarship and was named as one of the winners of the national YoungArts Foundation.
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Picture of Kyle YeungKyle Yeung
Kyle Yeung is a pianist and composer from Irvine, CA. He currently studies piano performance with Dr. Sasha Starcevich. At age 7, he made his orchestral debut by winning first place at the US CAPMT Young Musicians Concerto Competition. Kyle was admitted to The Juilliard School Pre-College Program at age 11. Kyle was the first prize recipient at the Stravinsky Awards Bach International Piano Competition, Glendale Piano Competition, ENKOR International Music Competition, the US New Star Music Competition, and a gold medalist at the Northwest Chopin Competition. He was awarded Artist of the Year 2018/2020 by Great Composers Competition Series. He serves as the principal pianist of Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings since 2019. Kyle also plays the violin and served as the Concertmaster of the 2019 All-Southern California Elementary Honor Orchestra and Irvine Unified School District Elementary Honor Chamber Strings. Kyle is also a composer. His compositions have won numerous national and international competition awards, including first place at the Music Teacher Association of California Composers Today Competition, Golden Key International Music Festival and National First Prize at the US Music Teachers National Association Composition Competition. His composition was featured at the Yamaha International Highlight Concert.
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Picture of Nathaniel ZhangNathaniel Zhang
Nathaniel Zhang, 15, started learning piano at the age of five and presented his first piano solo recital at the age of 10. He made his orchestral debut with the Florence Conservatory Orchestra at Music Fest Perugia, Italy. He will be performing with the Philharmonia Northwest in May 2022, and he will perform with the Seattle Symphony and Auburn Symphony in the 2022-2023 season. Nathaniel was the 1st place winner of the 2018-2019 National MTNA Junior Performance Competition and Chopin Award, 2019 Waring International Junior Solo Competition and Junior Concerto Competition. In 2021, Nathaniel participated in the Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition. He won 2nd place of Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, 5th place of Young Artist category of the International-Piano-E Junior Competition, and 2nd place of San Jose International Piano Competition. Nathaniel loves sharing music with all ages and enjoys public performance. He played piano for first-graders in elementary school. His story was featured on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, segment “America Strong”. Nathaniel also enjoys playing chamber music and regularly performs at the “Rising Stars of Chamber Music” concerts. He is a student of Dr. Sasha Starcevich.
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Picture of Helaine ZhaoHelaine Zhao
Helaine Zhao was born and raised in Irvine, California. She started piano lessons at age 5, currently studies with Rufus Choi. Helaine made her orchestral debut at the age of 10 as a winner of the SYMF Young Pianist Concerto Competition. She has a great passion for music and participated in numerous performances and competitions. She performed in various concert halls including Winifred Concert Hall, Segerstrom Concert Hall, Thayer Hall at Colburn School, and the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Most recently, Helaine was named a 2022 National YoungArts Merit winner, 1st prize winner of CAPMT Concerto Competition, 1st prize of SSMF Young Pianist Competition with Grand Schoenfeld Scholarship Award, winner of OCSA All Instruments Concerto Competition and will play with Symphony Orchestra in May.
Helaine’s other accolades including 1st prize winner in MSMU Music Competition, US New Star International Competition, North International Music Competition, OC Steinway Rising Star Piano Competition. In addition, she was a top winner of ENKOR International Music Competition, the Bremen International Piano Competition, SC Junior Bach Competition, MTAC and MTNA state-level competition. Helaine has performed in masterclasses with Eduardo Delgado, Oxana Yablonskaya, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Alexander Kobrin Dmitry, and Dmitry Rachmanov.
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