Katherine E. Benson, Naomi Causby, Stanley Dai, Bryan Ho, Kimberly Hou, John Aaron Jovaag, Angeline Larrivee, Weston Mizumoto, and Nancy Ren will compete for cash and scholarship prizes in the competition, which is in its seventh year.
The competition from Friday and Saturday will conclude the week-long piano festival of concerts and professional instruction. Of the festival’s 21 participants, 9 students will showcase their skills in the competitive format.
The official opening of the piano competition will be on Friday at 9:30 a.m. At the conclusion of Friday’s round, finalists will be selected for the Saturday morning phase of the competition. These finalists will perform an entirely fresh program for the judges, and a winner will be named at 11:30 a.m. The nine competitors are vying for a grand prize of $3000 cash.
Benson, 17, of Jonesborough, attends the University School at ETSU, where she was awarded the James E. Francis Award for Outstanding Student. She was the seventh, eighth, and 10th-grade winner at the Tennessee Music Teachers Association State Competition, and received first place in 2008 and 2011 at the Bristol Music Club Scholarship Audition, first place in 2009 with the Knoxville Choral Society with a performance at their Honors Concert, honorable mention in the 2009 Lee University Piano Competition. She was a finalist in the 2009 Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition and was named pianist 2009 for the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra. She also attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Piano Program in 2010.
Causby, 17, attends the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, S.C., and has been awarded top performance prizes, including first prize in The Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition, third prize in the Burgos International Music Competition, third prize in the David Dubois Piano Competition, finalist in the Blount-Slawson National Competition, and semi-finalist in the International Institute of Young Musicians Piano Competition. She made her debut performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C minor with the Greenville Young Artist Orchestra and Greenville Symphony. She has also performed with the South Carolina Philharmonic, and was recently added to the roster of Steinway Young Artists.
Dai, 15, from Metairie, La., began taking violin lessons at the age of 7. He then started studying piano at age 8, and has since received third Place in the 2006, 2008, and 2009 LMTA Torgrimson/Swanzy Competition, and 2006, 2008 Debose National Competition. Stanley was accepted into the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in 2009 as a student of Jisook Park. He has taken master classes from Frank Heneghan, Spencer Myer, Igor Resnianski, and Faina Lushtak.
A freshman from Potomac, Md., Ho, 15, has received first prize at the 5th Gustavo Romero Competition, the Asian American Piano Competition, the 23rd International Young Artist Competition, 2010 MTNA Competition State level, and numerous local competitions. He is also a three-time grand-prize winner at the Old Dominion University Piano Competition, and was awarded first prize by Leon Fleisher in March 2011. Bryan performs extensively in the Washington area, including appearances at the Kennedy Center, the Alden Theatre, the Hungarian Embassy, George Mason University, and the Catholic University of America.
Hou, 17, from Arlington, Va., won the national first prize in the 2009 MTNA Junior Piano Competition and is a winner of the 2010 Chopin Scholarship, sponsored by the Chopin Foundation of the United States. She has been invited to perform on NPR’s “From the Top,” at the 2009 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, and to play a solo recital at the Alden Theatre. She has also performed in concerts with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Millennium Stage, Terrace Theatre, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Hungarian Embassy, and Bulgarian Embassy. She also received first prize at the 23rd and 25th IYAPC, the VMTA Concerto Competition, and the AFAF Piano Competition in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall.
Jovaag, 18, of Gainesville, Ga., is the recipient of the Founder’s Scholarship and has received a music scholarship from the Downman/Eminent Scholars Trust Fund at Tulane University. This spring, he received Northeast Georgia Music Club’s High School Senior Scholarship and the North Festival Piano Scholarship. John Aaron was honored with the Studio Award as Most Outstanding Student for 2010 and 2011. He has received superior ratings in the Northeast Georgia Music Teachers Association Festival from 2000-2011. At the state competition this spring, John Aaron received an honorable mention.
Larrivee, 17, of Williamston, S.C., has participated in numerous competitions including the Louisiana International Piano Competition, and the Oberlin Competition. In 2007, she received the Beverly K. Whitten Scholarship in the National Daniel Piano Competition. In 2008, she was awarded second place in the Buono and Bradshaw International Piano Competition. Larrivee has also performed at Kosciusko Hall, Highlands, Steinway Gallery in Atlanta, and Lake Keowee Reserve.
Mizumoto, 16, of Yorba Linda, Ca., has recently won performances with the South Coast Symphony, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at U.C. Davis, and at the 2010 Redlands Bowl Summer Festival. He received the Grand Prize at the Elvin S. McGaughey Music Foundation Glendale Piano Competition, Leni Fe Bland Music Scholarship, and the National Chopin Foundation’s Scholarship Award. He has worked with Polish and Russian masters in Warsaw, Poland. Weston attends the Orange County High School of the Arts.
Ren, 14, of New Orleans, La., was among the first students to enroll in the prep program of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Nancy has participated in various competitions and won the following awards: NOMTA Romantic and contemporary music auditions 2004, Superior-Recitalist; NOMTA District Rally 2005, second place; NOMTA Annual Sonata Contest 2005, second place; NOMTA Annual Bach Contest 2005, second place; The Junior Philharmonic Society of New Orleans, October 28, 2007, The Irving Car Award For Musical Excellence; LPO’s Young Artist Concerto Competition Winner 2008; and first place in the DeBose National Piano Competition in 2009.