Forty-five Quarterfinalists each performed a 40-minute recital in either Berlin or New York and completed a ten-minute interview with noted arts journalist, Eric Friesen. The recitals and interviews were video recorded and taken to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity last month where the First Jury met and selected ten pianists to advance to the Semifinals in Calgary.
The Semifinalists are:
Stefano Andreatta began his musical studies at the age of seven with his father. He made his first public appearance at the age of ten and his first debut with orchestra at the age of 15, when he performed Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. In 2011, he graduated from the Castelfranco Veneto Conservatory (Italy) where he studied with Francesco Bencivenga.
In 2012, Andreatta was selected to take part in the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara (California), where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal from The Juilliard School (New York). He has also studied with Riccardo Risaliti and Anna Kravchenko. In 2014, he completed his master’s degree, submitting a thesis on piano didactics in the Soviet Union. He is currently studying with Niklas Sivelov at the Royal Danish Academy of Music (Copenhagen) and with Massimiliano Ferrati in Italy.
In 2016 / 2017, Andreatta was the First Prize winner of the FVG International Piano Competition (Italy), with special prizes for his Beethoven and Rachmaninov Sonatas, and Third Prize winner at Concours International de Montréal. He has recorded an album at the Fazioli Concert Hall for KNS Classical label.
Andreatta has given concerts in Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, England, Kazakhstan, Canada, and the US. As a soloist, he has performed with Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Orchestra Filarmonia Veneta, Nova Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Astana Symphony Orchestra. Andreatta is also a composer and piano teacher.
Hailed by the New York Times as a pianist with “a graceful touch … rhythmic precision … hypnotic charm,” (2012) and “sure, subtle touch,” (2014) Han Chen is a prize winner at many major competitions for both traditional and avant-garde music.
In January 2016, as part of his prize package as the First Prize winner of the 6th China International Piano Competition (Xiamen) Chen released his debut CD with Naxos Records recording Liszt’s operatic transcriptions. International Piano magazine (UK) praised Chen’s performance in the competition, stating that he “displayed extraordinary strength, talent, and flair.”
As an enthusiastic advocate for modern music, Chen actively performs both 20th century classics and works by emerging composers. His close collaboration with the Juilliard modern music ensemble AXIOM led him to the performances of works by Pierre Boulez, Toshio Hosokawa, György Kurtág, Magnus Lindberg, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. He is currently on the roster of the New York-based Ensemble Échappé.
Native of Taichung (Taiwan), Chen received his accelerated Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at The Juilliard School (New York) with Professor Yoheved Kaplinsky under the C/Kaplan Piano Scholarship, Susan W. Rose Piano Fellowship and the Van Cliburn Alumni Scholarship. After this achievement, he obtained his Graduate Diploma with Professor Wha Kyung Byun at the New England Conservatory (Boston). He commences his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the CUNY Graduate Center (New York) in August 2018.
Tzu-Yin Huang began playing the piano at the age of four in her home country Taiwan. Following completion of her undergraduate degree at the National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei), she came to the United States where she received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.
Huang has won many awards including First Prize and Orchestra Prize at the 12th Hastings International Piano Competition (England). This prize led to numerous performances in England including her London debut, and concerti performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She also received major prizes at the Wideman International Piano Competition (Mississippi) and the Iowa Piano Competition, concerto competitions at both the University of Michigan and National Taiwan Normal University, and the Yamaha Piano Competition (Taiwan).
Huang has performed at the Innsbrook (Missouri) and Meadowmount (New York) music festivals, and is a fellow of the Gijón International Piano Festival (Spain). She has performed with Music Michigan (CMM), and most recently formed the duo “Ecius.” Her principal teachers include Chung-Wen Tsai, Louis Nagel, and Logan Skelton. Huang believes artists have a responsibility to bring music and inspiration to others and that playing music from the heart is only this way that allows music to touch people’s souls.
Adela Liculescu was born in Craiova, Romania in 1993. Since 2012, she has been studying at the University of Music and Performing Arts (Vienna) with Professor Martin Hughes.
Liculescu is a prizewinning pianist. In February 2018, she was awarded the Prix du Piano Bern (Switzerland). As one of only four invited pianists chosen for the competition, she was awarded First Prize by the votes of the audience present. In September 2017, Liculescu won both the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Brahms International Competition in Pörtschach (Austria) and in the Brahms International Competition in Detmold (Germany) she was awarded the First Prize and several special prizes including a professional CD recording. In 2017, she won the Yamaha Music Prize (Austria) and became a scholar of the Thyll-Dürr Foundation of Switzerland. Previous competition accolades include First Prize at the Bösendorfer Piano Competition (Vienna) in 2015 where she performed together with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
Liculescu has performed concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, St. Martin-in the Fields London, Musikverein Vienna, and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. As an active chamber musician, she performs regularly in her duo with violinist Kirill Maximov and has performed in ensembles and collaborations with Alexander Sitkovetsky, Natalia Lomeiko, Barnabás Kelemen, Corinne Chapelle, Domenico Nordio, Diana Ketler, Mirabela Dina, Maxim Rysanov, Maria Kliegel, Julian Arp, Boris Andrianov, and László Fenyö.
The performances of pianist and composer Nicolas Namoradze have been hailed by critics as “sparkling … sensitive and coloristic” (New York Times) and “simply gorgeous” (Wall Street Journal). He has given recitals at prestigious venues in several countries around the world. He has appeared as a soloist with renowned orchestras and conductors in Europe and the United States. His performances in Hungary, Georgia, Spain, and the US have been broadcast on radio and television and his compositions have been commissioned and performed by leading artists and festivals in the United States.
Highlights of his current season include appearances at the Chelsea Music Festival (New York) as a featured composer and pianist, recitals in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as Artist-in-Residence at The Drozdoff Society, as well as commissions for ensembles such as the Barkada and Verona Quartets and a series of concerts with violinist Rolf Schulte. Namoradze was recently awarded the Fidelio Fortissimo Prize for young composers (Budapest). In the past season he also composed and produced the soundtracks for Walking Painting, a film by Fabienne Verdier, and Nuit d’opéra à Aix, a short film made in association with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
After completing his undergraduate studies in Budapest, Vienna, and Florence, Namoradze moved to New York to receive his master’s degree at The Juilliard School. He now pursues his Doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center (New York) holding the Graduate Center Fellowship, studying piano with Emanuel Ax and Yoheved Kaplinsky, and composition with John Corigliano. Nicolas serves on the faculty of Queens College, CUNY (New York).
Megan-Geoffrey Prins, from Riversdale, South Africa, is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Cleveland Institute of Music (Ohio) where he completed the Master of Music program with Antonio Pompa-Baldi. Praised for his technical prowess, imaginative interpretation, and keen sensitivity, Prins has received numerous awards from competitions in South Africa and abroad, including First Prizes at the UNISA 120th Anniversary Competition (Pretoria), the inaugural Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival Competition (Matieland), and the 2017 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition (Johannesburg). In 2012, Prins received the Sadie Zellen Piano Prize from the Cleveland Institute of Music (Ohio) and in 2017, he was awarded the Maurice and Judith Kaplow Prize for Uncommon Creativity.
Prins made his concerto debut at the age of 11. By the age of 14, he had performed concerti with all the major orchestras in South Africa. In recent years, Prins has travelled to South Africa, the US, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Mozambique for solo performances. Prins is an active chamber musician. He served on the faculty of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (Matieland) from 2016 to 2017 and frequently collaborates with artists in Cleveland and South Africa.
Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner has been lauded as “poetic, electrifying,” (Michigan Live) “masterful technique,” (La Presse Montreal) and “a gifted virtuoso,” (San Francisco Chronicle) for performances that have stirred the intellect and humanity of his listeners on five continents. Named a Gilmore Young Artist (2014), an honour awarded every two years to the most promising American pianists of the new generation, Sanchez-Werner also received the Atlantic Council Young Global Citizen Award recognizing his dedication to social action through music in countries including Iraq, Rwanda, France, Canada, and the United States. General Petraeus commended his “courageous humanitarian contributions through the arts … strengthening the ties that unite our nations.”
An active chamber musician, Sanchez-Werner has collaborated with leading artists such as Renée Fleming, Eric Owens, Marina Poplavskaya, and Cynthia Phelps. Since making his concerto debut at age six, he performs regularly under the batons of conductors including Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Michael Morgan, Boris Brott, Tito Muñoz, David Lockington, William Noll, Burns Taft, Robert Lawson, and Karim Wasfi.
Sanchez-Werner has been featured on NPR, CNN International, the Wall Street Journal, and WDR-Arte and was honoured to perform at the White House and Kennedy Center for President Obama’s Inauguration concert. He received his bachelor’s and master’s from The Juilliard School (New York) where he also received the Kovner Fellowship. Principal teachers have included Yoheved Kaplinsky and Ilya Itin, and composition with Lowell Liebermann. Sanchez-Werner studies with Boris Berman at the Yale School of Music (Connecticut) as the only candidate selected this year to their prestigious Artist Diploma program.
Whether in Vienna’s Musikverein, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, or Berlin’s Konzerthaus—Philipp Scheucher is at home in the most prestigious concert halls of the world. When he was awarded First Prize at the International Music Prize (Cologne), the German Broadcasting Corporation, WDR, stated Scheucher’s “absolute stage presence and his crisp-lively sound of his interpretations set new quality standards.”
Scheucher was born in Graz, Austria in 1993. At the age of ten, his extraordinary musical talent was noticed by Maria Zgubic at the University of Music and Performing Arts (Graz), where his career as a pianist started to develop. With the guidance of Markus Schirmer, he found his own personality and artistry on the piano which gave him the rare ability to revitalize classical music and bring it to the 21st century. His repertoire includes a wide range covering the standard repertoire of today’s classical pianists. More recently, Scheucher’s affinity for contemporary music is being appreciated, and is confirmed by many of his collaborations with living composers. He was involved in the premiere of Marc-André Hamelin’s piano solo work L’homme armé and he collaborated with Austrian composer M.G. Kendlinger to premiere his piano concerto Larissa.
Scheucher’s musical flexibility, technical abilities, and his interaction with an audience all add to his promise as a leading artist of his generation.
Hailed by the Washington Post as a young artist with “boundless potential” who can “already hold his own with the best,” pianist Aristo Sham has dazzled audiences on five continents. In 2009, Sham was featured in the documentary The World’s Greatest Musical Prodigies, broadcast in the UK. The New York Concert Review remarked that “in addition to showing passion and pianism, [his performance] reflected logic and clarity.” Sham has also performed for royalty and dignitaries such as Prince Charles, the Queen of Belgium, and ex-President Hu of China, and collaborated with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra (London) and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Sham first came under international recognition when he won First Prize and the Barenreiter Urtext Special Prize in the Ettlingen International Piano Competition in Germany in 2006, and First Prize in the Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition in 2008. More recently, he was awarded First Prizes in the Wideman (Louisiana), PianoArts (Milwaukee), and New York International Piano Competitions, and prizes in the Verbier Festival (Switzerland), Gina Bachauer (Utah), Dublin (Ireland), Clara Haskil (Switzerland), and Viotti International Piano Competitions (Italy).
Born in Hong Kong, Sham was first introduced to the piano at the age of three. His principal teachers include Professors Eleanor Wong, Colin Stone, Victor Rosenbaum, and Julia-Mustonen-Dahlkvist. He was a student at Harrow School (London), and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Economics and French and a Master of Music in piano performance as a joint programme at Harvard University and New England Conservatory (Massachusetts). In addition, he travels to Sweden regularly for studies at the Ingesund School of Music. In his free time, Aristo enjoys travelling, languages, gastronomy, and oenology.
Yannick Van de Velde is a prize-winner in many international competitions: a finalist in the Busoni Competition in Bolzano (Italy), Prize Walkiers-Carbonelle in the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium), Sixth Prize in the Los Angeles Piano Competition in 2018, Public Prize and Prix d’Argent in the Piano Campus Competition (Paris), and First Prize in the Nany Phillepart Foundation Competition (Brussels).
Van de Velde has considerable experience as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, with 30 concerti in his repertoire and much of Ravel’s piano catalogue. He has played under the baton of conductors including, but not limited to, Stanley Dodds, Erich Lederhändler, Etienne Siebens, Michael Hofstätter, Ivo Venkov, and Fabrice Parmentier. Strongly interested in contemporary music, he played the world premieres of Chanson for piano and orchestra by Jean-Frédéric Neuburger and Dream by Frederic Rzewski.
Van de Velde has performed in over 40 countries in famous venues such as the Great Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie (as soloist with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra), the Acropolis Museum (Athens), and the Lincoln Center (New York). He has studied with Klaus Hellwig and Eliso Virsaladze, and currently studies with Boris Berman at Yale University (Connecticut). Van de Velde is a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Soloists Trio with principal violist Christophe Horak and solo cellist Bruno Delepelaire.
Photo credit: Andrej Grilc