2009 Festival Participants

Picture of John AhnJohn Ahn, son of Daniel and Susan Ahn, is an eleventh grader from Calhoun, Georgia, where he attends Georgia-Cumberland Academy. John was the Conference Recitalist of the 2005 and 2006 GMTA (Georgia Music Teachers Association) Auditions. In 2007, he advanced up to the semi-finals round in the Daniel Piano Competition at Furman University. That same year, he attended the 2007 Southeastern Piano Festival. He later became Alternate Conference Recitalist at the 2008 GMTA Auditions. Most recently, he was a finalist at the 2008 Southern Adventist University Concerto Competition. John currently studies piano under Helen Ramsaur.

Picture of Jacob BuserJacob Buser, proud son of Curt and Janine Buser, is an 11th grade student at McLean High School, in McLean, VA. This year, Jacob appeared as a finalist in the NSO Young Soloists Competition at the Kennedy Center and performed with the Washington Sinfonietta. He took top piano honors in Levine's Cogen Concerto Competition in 2008 and the Marlin-Engel Soloist Competition in 2007, earning a chance to play in the Waterford Concert Series. He participated in the Southeastern Piano Festival at the University of South Carolina in 2006 and 2007. He has also played in Carnegie Hall and at the Kennedy Center as a winner of the American Fine Arts Festival. Jacob Buser studies with Irena Orlov at the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC.

Picture of Naomi CausbyNaomi Causby, daughter of Tom and Suzie Causby, is a ninth grader at Ben Lippen High School in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition to her award in the Afternoon, Eau Claire and Morning Music Clubs Scholarship Auditions, she has won awards in the MTNA Junior Competitions, SCMTA District and State, SC Federation of Music Clubs, and Columbia Music Teachers Association Scholarship Auditions. Three times she has been chosen in the S.C. Piano Festival Auditions to appear as a soloist on SCETV. She attended the Summer Arts Camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2007 and 2008, where she studied under Ani Gogova and Ruthanne Schempf. In 2008, she attended the Southeastern Piano Festival and competed in the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, receiving an honorable mention. Naomi won first place in the 2009 SCMTA and went on to place third in the Southeast Division of MTNA Junior Piano Competition. Later that month, Naomi was a finalist in the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition. Naomi currently studies with Dr. Marina Lomazov and Dr. Joseph Rackers, both professors at the University of South Carolina.

Picture of Ruth ChoaRuth Choa, daughter of Fow-Sen and Beth Choa, is an eleventh grader at Centennial High School. She began piano lessons at age five, and has been studying at the Peabody Preparatory since age nine. At twelve, as the winner of the junior division of the Concerto Competition, Ruth made her debut with the Peabody Preparatory Chamber Orchestra in 2005. Ruth also won the senior division of the Concerto Competition, and has performed with the Peabody Youth Orchestra in May 2009. Recently, she won both the Part Recital Competition and the Honors Competition at the Preparatory. In 2008, she performed on the UU Chalice Concert Series' showcase of Preparatory students. Ruth has received scholarships to attend prestigious summer festivals and studied with Craig Sheppard, Hung-Kuan Chen, and Christopher Harding, and performed in master classes for Barry Snyder, Andre Watts and Robert Weirich. She currently studies with Yong Hi Moon.

Picture of Carolyn Anne ColtonCarolyn Anne Colton, daughter of Nancy Bridges and Kendrew Colton, is a rising twelfth-grader in the gifted and talented program at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Most recently, she was the grand prize winner in the Washington Philharmonic Concerto Competition and has performed the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov with the orchestra at Schlesinger Hall. She was the Alternate in the MTNA Baldwin Piano Competition for the state of Virginia in 2004, and was selected as the First Prize winner of the Baldwin Composition Competition for the State of Maryland in 2006 and Second Prize winner in the northeastern division. As a winner in the American Fine Arts Festival, she performed as a soloist at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall when she was eleven and has appeared in the Alden Theater Rising Star Program in McLean, Virginia, and at Sumner Auditorium. Formerly a student in the honor’s program at the Levine School, she currently studies with Irina Kats and with Santiago Rodriguez at the University of Maryland.

Picture of Daniel GriffithsDaniel Griffiths, son of Roy and Anne Griffith is an eleventh grader at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in high school where he studies with Mr. Eric Larsen. He studies jazz and has performed as a soloist, in a quartet, and big band. Daniel was a soloist in the NC Boys Choir from 2004-2006 and has toured multiple times through America and the United Kingdom.

Picture of Frederick Naison DongFrederick Naison Dong, son of Jin-tang Dong and Li Ping Hu, is a rising senior at Parkview High School in Lilburn, GA. He has participated in many competitions and has won several prizes, among which include first prize in the Georgia Music Teachers Association competition in 2006, as well as honorable mention in the Southeastern division later that year. He earned first prize at the Chopin Competition hosted by the Atlanta Chopin Society in 2007, first prize at a statewide sonata competition in 2008, and second prize at the Guthman Piano Competition hosted by Georgia Tech in 2008. In addition, he was the recipient of the 2007 Atlanta Steinway Society C. Merrell Calhoun Prodigy Award. He has been studying piano with Frederic Hsiang since November of 2005.

Picture of Baron FenwickBaron Fenwick, son of Cindy Norris and Jay Fenwick, is a fifteen-year-old ninth grader at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Baron's honors and awards include honorable mention in the 2007 North Carolina ASTA competition, winner of the 2007 Western Piedmont Youth Symphony Concerto competition, finalist in the 2006 and winner of the 2009 North Carolina Symphony Concerto Competition, and performance opportunities in master classes with renowned instrumentalists such as Roy Eaton, Paul Neubauer, and Cho-Liang Lin. In addition, Baron performed at the Washington Ballet Company Gala in Carnegie-Mellon Auditorium in Washington DC, and had the distinct honor of performing at the unveiling of the $1.2 million Kuhn-Bosendorfer piano in Winston-Salem. Baron has been playing piano since the age of six and currently studies with Appalachian State University professor, Bair Shagdaron, and UNCSA professor, Clifton Matthews.

Picture of Belinda JuangBelinda Juang, daughter of Hann-Ming Juang and Mei-Yu Lin, is a senior at Winston Churchill High School in Maryland. Her past awards include the MSMTA Distinguished Music Achievement Award in 2008 and MSMTA Student Scholarship for Performance Award in 2007. She was Alternate in the Eastern Division of the MTNA Piano Duet Competition in 2008 and 2009 and the winner of the Chinese Music Award in the International Young Artist Piano Competition in 2008. She has performed Beethoven Concerto No. 1 with the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and has played several other concerto movements with the Chamber Orchestra at GLMTA Concerto Winner Concerts. Belinda has been chosen to perform in Thomas Schumacher's Piano Master Class in the MSMTA 2009 Conference and in Brian Ganz's Piano Master Class in 2008, which was sponsored by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Belinda has studied piano with Douglas Guiles since age five.

Picture of Nakeum (Becky) LeeNakeum (Becky) Lee, daughter of Hosung and Gunhee Lee, is an eleventh grader at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. She grew up in Korea and moved to the United States in 2006. She started studying the piano at age six and has participated in several competitions and music festivals. She was a winner at the Pre-College Young Artist Competition hosted by East Carolina University in 2009. She is a member of the music honors society and also serves as an accompanist of the Honors Choir at her school. Becky is currently a student of Seung-Ah Kim.

Picture of Daniel LongDaniel Long, son of Keith and Catherine Long, is a home-schooled tenth grader who lives on a dairy farm near Richmond, Virginia. He began his piano studies at the age of five in Vienna, Austria. In 2007, he won the Virginia 4-H Instrumental Competition. In March 2009, he was awarded the second prize in the East Carolina University Piano Competition. Daniel has attended the Summer Music Camp at the University of North Carolina- Greensboro in 2007 and 2008 where he was selected to play in the finale recital. He currently studies with Lisa Emenheiser Sarratt.

Picture of Maryam KheirbekMaryam Kheirbek, daughter of Mahmoud and Raya Kheirbek, is a junior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. She was selected to attend the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Piano Program in 2007, and was chosen to participate in the prestigious chamber music program with members of the Young Artists Orchestra. She was also a student of the Indiana University Piano Academy in 2006. A two-time prizewinner of the American Fine Arts Festival, Maryam performed in a gala concert at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall. She has also performed in the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Embassy of Poland, the Phillips Collection. Maryam has performed extensively in masterclasses with artists including Mia Chung, Anthony di Bonaventura, Jonathan Bass, Vladimir Leyetchkiss, Leslie Howard, Craig Nies, Stephen Hough, and Alan Chow. Her previous piano teachers include Brian Ganz and Karen Bartman, and currently she is a student of Mikhail Volchok at the Levine School of Music.

Picture of Mary Elizabeth McElmurrayMary Elizabeth McElmurray, daughter of Charles and Mary Ann McElmurray, is a homeschooled twelfth grader in Blythewood, South Carolina. She began her piano studies at the age of seven with Ellen Shearer. She has been a frequent participant in SCMTA District and State and CMTA Scholarship Auditions. She has attended numerous music camps at Bob Jones University and piano clinics at Presbyterian College and Converse College. She has played in master classes with David Dubal and Jerome Lowenthal. She also has enjoyed teaching piano and violin for the past five years. Mary currently studies piano with Robyn Gibson at Columbia College.

Picture of Joseph MohanJoseph Mohan, son of William and Jean Mohan, is a junior at Clarence High School in Clarence, New York. Since beginning his piano studies at age seven, he has participated in many competitions, adjudications, masterclasses, workshops, and festivals. He won the New York Music Teachers Association Junior Division, was a finalist in the Julia Crane Piano Competition, won the Thousand Island Piano Competition, and has performed with the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. Joseph has been selected to play with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic in the upcoming year. He also plays he violin and enjoys swimming and biking. He currently studies piano with Alla Kuznetsov at the Eastman Community Music School in Rochester, New York.

Picture of Stephanie NgStephanie Ng, daughter of Johnny Ng and Ellyana Putra, is a 16-year-old junior at Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia. She has received numerous awards and performed throughout Atlanta, Berlin, Chicago, Moscow, Prague, and Vienna. When she was 11, she studied at the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, Russia. She made her first orchestral appearance at 13, playing Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, she was the Atlanta Music Club scholarship winner in the high school keyboard category. In 2009, she performed Chopin's First Piano Concerto with the Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra as a winner of the 35th Annual ACSO Ruth Kern Young Artists Concerto CompetitionIn addition to piano, she plays the violin in the Walton Philharmonia Orchestra. Stephanie currently studies piano with David Watkins, Professor of Piano at Kennesaw State University School of Music.

Picture of Andrew SohnAndrew Sohn, son of Min-Seok and Mee-Sung Sohn, is a rising twelfth grade at Eastside High School in Gainesville, FL. He was born in Australia, and he moved to Gainesville in 2004, when he began studying piano seriously. In Gainesville, he has won the Betsy Schnell Youth Award. He has also won the Florida State Music Teachers Association Competition. Since 2006, he annually plays at the regional festival in Gainesville. He attended the Indiana University Piano Academy in the summer of 2007 and 2008. He also attended the Southeastern Piano Festival in the summer of 2008. He frequently performs in local recitals and in his church, including special events. He plans to major in Piano Performance and aspires to be a performing artist. Andrew has been studying for almost four and a half years with Dr. Soomee Yoon.

Picture of Derek VannDerek Vann, son of Gary and Gayle Vann of Norcross, Georgia, is a rising junior at Norcross High School in Virginia. In 2008, Derek was awarded the Thelma Byrom Award, a national competition sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs. Derek earned First Prize in the Toccata category of the Bach Competition in 2008. Derek was recently pictured in the 2009 Piano Guild Notes for playing a ten-piece program for ten consecutive years. He recently won First Prize in the Bauru Atlanta Piano Competition at Georgia State University. As the recipient of this aware, he will tour three cities in Brazil in 2010. Derek is currently studying with Lois Finlay.

Picture of Rebecca WillettRebecca Willett, daughter of Scott and Kimberly Willett, is a home-schooled fourteen year old 9th grader who lives in Virginia Beach, VA. She began studying piano at age 4 with Melody Diehl and violin at age 7 with Anne Bugg. As a violinist, Rebecca has been a member of the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia for 5 years. She served as Concertmaster and was named Outstanding Musician of the Concert Orchestra in 2007. As a pianist, Rebecca has performed as a soloist in the Virginia Symphony's Young Artist Showcase numerous times, since the age of 10. She was also chosen to perform in 10-Piano Concerts in Sacramento, California and Matsumoto, Japan. Rebecca won first place in the Richmond Symphony League's Young Artist Concerto Competition and performed with the Richmond Symphony in April 2009. Rebecca currently serves as the church pianist and director of the Middle School Choir at her home church, Tabernacle United Methodist Church. She currently studies piano with Dr. Jeffrey Brown and violin with Christina Morton.

Picture of Sean YehSean Yeh, son of Rosa and Tony Yeh, is a senior at Libertyville High School in Illinois. In 2006 he won first place in the Sejong Music Competition and was a national finalist in the MTNA Baldwin Junior Piano Competition. Sean was a national finalist in the MTNA Yamaha Senior Piano Competition in 2008. Sean also won third prize in the Piano Arts National Piano Competition and performed with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In 2009 Sean won first prize in the Eighteenth Annual Steinway Young Artists Solo Piano Competition. His solo performance appearances include the Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center, Skokie Public Library (Young Steinway Concert Series), the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at the Millennium Park, Chicago WFMT radio, and From the Top radio show. Sean has worked with some of the most internationally renowned piano teachers at master classes including John Perry, Pawel Skrzypek, Lee Kum-Sing, and Thomas Hecht. Sean made his orchestra debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a pianist in Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals in 2008. Sean studies with Matthew Hagle and Alan Chow.

Picture of Brook ZhangBrook Zhang, son of Li and Mindy Zhang, is a ninth grader at the Columbus Academy in Columbus, Ohio. Most recently, he was a national finalist of the MTNA piano competition and played in Atlanta, Georgia at the national MTNA conference. He was the state winner of the Buckeye Auditions, Ohio Music Teacher Association/Graves piano competition, and the recipient of music summer scholarships. As a winner of both concerto and solo divisions of Cincinnati World Piano Competition, Brook was invited twice to play at the Weil Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall. Brook is a student of Nina Polonsky.