Each Quarterfinalist performed a 40-minute recital in either Frankfurt or New York and completed a ten-minute interview with Catherine McClellend, Honens’ Director, Artistic Planning. The recitals and interviews were video recorded and reviewed by the First Jury, who selected the following ten pianists to advance to the Semifinals in Calgary.
The Semifinalists are:
Ádám Balogh was born in Hungary to a family of musicians and made his concerto debut at the age of 13 with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Since then, he has performed with many orchestras in Hungary including the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hungarian National Symphonic Orchestra, Concerto Budapest, and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. Balogh has also performed with the NYCA Symphonic Orchestra (New York) and the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, among others.
He is a prizewinner of international competitions, including PianoTalents (Italy), the Jenö Takács Competition (Austria), the Chopin Competition (Hungary), the Junior Cliburn Competition (Texas), the New York Concert Artists Worldwide Debut Audition, as well as the competitions of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival (New York) and the Tel-Hai Masterclasses (Israel). He has performed around Europe, the United States, and Asia.
Balogh is currently a student of Arie Vardi in Hannover, pursuing his master’s degree. Previously, he studied in the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest as a student of Attila Némethy and Gábor Eckhardt. As an active participant of masterclasses, he has worked with Dmitri Bashkirov, Zoltán Kocsis, Roger Muraro, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, and Yoheved Kaplinsky, among others.
In 2017, Balogh received the Junior Prima award, considered the most prestigious in Hungary for artists under the age of 35. Additionally, he is a recipient of the Junior Prize of the Tüke Foundation of Pécs and the Cziffra Festival’s Junior Award (Hungary). Most recently, he won Second Prize at the Bartok World Competition (Hungary) as well as Fifth Prize at the Sydney International Piano Competition.
Californian Rachel Breen received her bachelor’s degree with academic honors from The Juilliard School (New York), where she was a student of Julian Martin. Previously, she studied with Dr. Sharon Mann; until age ten, she was self-taught. She recently completed dual master’s programs at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik and Yale School of Music (Connecticut) with Lars Vogt and Boris Slutsky, respectively.
Breen has earned top prizes at the International Beethoven Piano Competition (Vienna); the Georges Cziffra International Competition (Hungary); the Nuova Coppa Pianisti International Competition (France); the Livorno International Piano Competition, the Gallinari International Competition, and Premio Roberto Melini (Italy); and the Spanish Composers International Competition. She was selected as the 2021 to 2023 National Federation of Music Clubs’ Young Artist, and received the 2021 Kurt Alten Prize from her university in Hannover. She has performed and taught across the United States, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary, and was featured in the 2021 podcast 30 Bach alongside Jeremy Denk, Angela Hewitt, Tim Page, and Simone Dinnerstein. In August 2022, her CD recording of works by underrepresented minority composers will be released through the New Muses Project.
Aside from piano, Breen has an interest in languages, receiving First Prize on the National Latin Exam and Third Prize on the National French Exam. She spends her spare time running, exploring philosophy and visual arts, and forgetting to answer important emails.
Breen is based in both Europe and the United States.
Łukasz Byrdy studied with Waldemar Andrzejewski and Joanna Marcinkowska at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań (Poland) and is currently a student of Klaus Hellwig at the Universität der Künste Berlin. He is a prizewinner of numerous international piano competitions including: First Prize at the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Hannover (Germany, 2019), Third Prize at the 1st Beijing International Chopin Competition for Young Pianists (China, 2016), and Third Prize at the IV International Piano Competition “in memoriam Pietro Iadeluca” in Arsoli (Italy, 2016). As a member of Paderewski Piano Trio, Byrdy has also won chamber music competitions in Geneva and Bydgoszcz.
In 2015, Byrdy qualified for Round II of the XVII International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition (Warsaw). He received scholarships to Morningside Music Bridge in 2010 and 2011 in Calgary and the Aspen Music Festival in 2012.
Byrdy has given concerts at EXPO in Dubai and Milan; Chopin and His Europe Festival, and the International Paderewski Festival (Warsaw); Festival Chopin à Paris; as well as festivals in Chengdu, Moscow, and Duszniki-Zdrój. Byrdy has performed in many of Poland’s important concert halls including Fryderyk Chopin’s birthplace in Żelazowa Wola, Fryderyk Chopin Museum, Royal Castle in Warsaw, Royal Łazienki Park, and Polish Radio’s National Orchestra Concert Hall. He has also performed across the United States, Canada, China, Russia, UAE, Austria, France, Lithuania, Norway, Italy, Malta, and Germany.
In 2017, Byrdy released his first CD featuring concertos of Chopin and Mozart in chamber version with the Altra Volta String Quartet.
South Korean pianist Sae Yoon Chon is one of the most outstanding young pianists to emerge onto the international scene in recent years. He won First Prize at the 2018 Dublin International Piano Competition and has been a major prizewinner at international piano competitions in Hong Kong, Valencia, Los Angeles, and Seoul, plus Hilton Head International Piano Competition and Young Concert Artists. He has performed at the Verbier and Orford Festivals.
Chon made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall and has given solo recitals at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Seoul Arts Center in Seoul, and many others.
Chon first studied piano in his native South Korea with Hyoung-Joon Chang. He completed his Bachelor of Music degree on full scholarship at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, studying with John O’Conor, and occasionally with James Anagnoson and Leon Fleisher. He also completed the Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School with John O’Conor. During this period, Chon became a recipient of the prestigious Ihnatowycz Prize. He is now continuing his master’s degree at The Juilliard School (New York) with Robert McDonald.
Chon has played with many orchestras including those of Cleveland, Hong Kong, Valencia, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin.
Praised for his performances of distinctive intelligence, sensitivity, and virtuosity, American pianist George Xiaoyuan Fu is establishing an international reputation as a musician who is a “deep thinker, thoroughly in command” (theartsdesk.com) with “stunning virtuosity” (Boston Music Intelligencer).
Fu has appeared at international venues such as Konzerthaus Berlin, Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall and Kings Place (London), and Tanglewood (Massachusetts). His performances and interviews have been featured on broadcasts around the world, ranging from BBC Radio 3 and National Public Radio to appearances on PBS / American Public Television and On Stage At Curtis (Philadelphia).
Fu has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra (Massachusetts), and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra (Philadelphia). In addition to being a passionate chamber musician who frequently collaborates with a variety of musicians, Fu is a founding member of Trio Zimbalist, a new piano trio consisting of himself, Josef Špaček (violin) and Timotheos Gavriilidis-Petrin (cello). He is an enthusiastic performer of contemporary music, enjoying collaborations with composers such as Harrison Birtwistle, George Lewis, Tansy Davies, Phil Cashian, Matthew Aucoin, and Freya Waley-Cohen, as well as being a composer himself.
After receiving a bachelor’s in economics from Harvard University, Fu studied under Jonathan Biss and Meng-Chieh Liu at the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia), and then under Christopher Elton and Joanna MacGregor at the Royal Academy of Music (London). He receives career support from the Kirckman Concert Society, the City Music Foundation, and the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
Born in 1997 in Surgut, Siberia, pianist Simon Karakulidi has lived in the United States since 2016. An aspiring polymath with interests ranging from politics to philosophy, he received his master’s degree at the Yale School of Music (Connecticut), a tuition-free program at Yale University under Wei-Yi Yang. Before then, he studied with the Van Cliburn Gold Prize Winner Stanislav Ioudenitch in Parkville, Missouri. Karakulidi has also been mentored by Diego Prigollini. Karakulidi is enthusiastic about American classical music and is currently engaged in learning the complete piano works of David Lang and Nico Muhly.
Most recently, Karakulidi won Second Prize at Virginia Waring International Piano Competition (California) and First Prize at the Hellam International Concerto Competition (Missouri). He also won First Prize from the 2019 Wideman International Piano Competition (Louisiana), First Prize at the Ann & Charles Eisemann International Young Artists Competition (Texas), and the Grand Prize of the Naftzger Competition (Kansas).
Praised for her playing and commitment to rarely-heard repertoire, Aleksandra (Sasha) Kasman is in demand as a soloist and teacher with engagements around the world.
Kasman appears as a guest artist at the invitation of such festivals as International Keyboard Institute and Festival (New York), pianoSonoma (California), Southeastern Piano Festival (South Carolina), Utah State University Piano Festival, Kyiv International Summer Music Academy, Busan International Music Academy (South Korea), and PianoCity Milano. She has given solo recitals at major concert venues including Steinway Hall (New York City), Yamaha Ginza Hall (Tokyo), Salle Cortot (Paris), and Teatro Carlo Felice (Genoa).
Kasman made her concerto debut at age thirteen with the Symphonic Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Ukraine and the Alabama Symphony, and has since worked with numerous orchestras in the USA and abroad. She is an advocate and experienced performer of contemporary music, premiering works of Nathan Daughtrey, Zachary Detrick, and Eric Mobley.
A top prizewinner of numerous international competitions, she holds Artist-in-Residence positions at NPR’s Performance Today, PianoArts of North America, and pianoSonoma.
Kasman is a Rackham doctoral candidate in the studio of Logan Skelton and Graduate Student Instructor at the SMTD of the University of Michigan. She holds an M.M. degree from The Juilliard School (New York), where she studied with Robert McDonald and served as a Teaching Fellow and Gluck Fellow.
Kasman began her musical studies with her parents, Yakov and Tatiana Kasman, acclaimed pianists and pedagogues. Kasman is a dedicated music teacher herself; in addition to maintaining a private studio, she has given masterclasses at Lee University and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and lectured at Bowling Green State University. Since 2015, she has enjoyed serving as a PianoArts Fellow giving yearly teaching and preforming tours to thousands of children in Milwaukee schools and the community.
Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv under the tutelage of Arie Vardie, Illia Ovcharenko has already performed with leading orchestras including the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, National Radio of Ukraine, and the Versailles Conservatory String Orchestra. He has also collaborated with prestigious conductors such as Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Arie Vardi, Ian Hobson, Mykola Diadyura, Kai Bumann, Benoit Girault, Volodymyr Sirenko, Nicolo Giuliani, and Vitaly Protasov.
Ovcharenko is a frequent participant at music festivals worldwide in countries including France, Ukraine, Israel, the United States, Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy. He has appeared at the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Festival (Israel), Aspen Music Festival (USA), Festival Auvers-sur-Oise and the Pontoise Piano Campus (France), and Bern Interlaken Classics (Switzerland), among others. The recipient of the Polonsky Fellowship (2019, 2021), he studied at the Aspen Music Festival (Colorado) with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Hung Kuan Chen.
His most recent achievements include Second Prize at the Hilton Head International Piano Competition in 2022, becoming a Laureate of the Busoni International Piano Competition (Italy) in 2021, winning the Michelangeli Prize at the Eppan International Piano Academy (Italy), as well as First Prize at the Horowitz International Piano Competition (Ukraine) in 2019.
Ovcharenko is a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship of Ukraine.
Whether in Vienna’s Musikverein, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, or Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Philipp Scheucher is at home on the most prestigious concert halls of Europe and beyond. WDR Broadcasting Cooperation wrote: “His absolute presence onstage and his clean, attentive sound of his interpretations set new quality standards,” following his First Prize win at the International Music Prize in Cologne (Germany).
Born in Graz, Austria, Scheucher’s extraordinary musical talent was noticed by Maria Zgubic at the University of Music and Performing Arts (Graz) at the age of ten, when his career as a pianist started to develop. Under the guidance of Markus Schirmer, he found his own personality and artistry on the piano and finished his Konzertexamen studies with Ilja Scheps in Cologne in 2021. Currently, Scheucher receives further encouragement from Markus Becker, broadening his chamber music repertoire. In addition, he is a Robert Turnbull Piano Foundation Scholar for the Artist Diploma at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, guided by Ian Jones and Dorian Leljak.
Scheucher’s has concert engagements around the world having won numerous prizes at international competitions including his most recent success as the Second Prize winner at the International Beethoven Competition (Vienna). His exceptional programs cover the standard repertoire of today’s classical pianists with an affinity for performing works by living composers such as M.A. Hamelin, Lera Auerbach, Gerd Kühr, and Beat Furrer.
His solo debut album Quasi Fantasia was released in 2019, followed by his double album Concert apértif du Piano in 2020, and his Beethoven album by Naxos in 2022.
Scheucher’s musical flexibility, technical abilities, and his interaction with an audience all add to his promise as a leading artist of his generation.
Praised as “warmly expressive, sensitive, and polished” and “a valuable advocate for classical music” by New York Concert Review, American pianist Angie Zhang is passionate about sharing the harpsichord, fortepiano, and modern piano with audiences. She breathes life into pieces with historically informed, yet boldly modern interpretations and electrifying execution.
Angie is a sought-after recital and concerto soloist, chamber musician, pedagogue, and social sculptor who prioritizes genuine human interactions and seeks to create impact. Her performances on pianos of all shapes, sizes, and eras have been internationally acclaimed and presented at important venues including Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center (New York), and the Teatro Nacional of the Dominican Republic. Her fervent commitment to artistic excellence invites live and digital audiences to discover a more complete story of the piano lineage and repertoire.
A prizewinner in over 20 competitions and a seasoned soloist, she is widely regarded as one of the foremost ‘complete artists’ of her generation. She has performed in North America, Europe, and Asia and has collaborated onstage with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Anne-Marie McDermott, and Maestro Fabio Luisi. A formidable chamber musician, she has performed Beethoven’s complete works for piano and cello with Tchaikovsky International Cello Competition Winner Zlatomir Fung and appeared with the St. Lawrence and Aeolus Quartets. Recent festival appearances include Music Academy of the West and La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest (California), Sarasota and Aspen Music Festivals, Perlman Music Program (New York), and Bowdoin International Music Festival (Maine).
Angie holds a BM and MM with Chamber and Academic Honors from Juilliard School, where her principal teachers include Yoheved Kaplinsky and Joseph Kalichstein. She is currently pursuing a DMA at University of Michigan with Logan Skelton. Angie is a Yamaha Artist.