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S. Korean Hong Sa-Hun First Prize Winner at 6th New York International Piano Competition
Hong Sa-Hun

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation has announced Katharina Gross from Germany and Hong Sa-Hun from Forth Worth,TX as First Prize Winners in One Piano Four Hands category of the Sixth New York International Piano Competition. Hong also won the Fourth Prize of the competition. The Second-Prize winners in the One Piano Four Hands category are Hugo Kitano, 17, San Francisco, CA and Yilan Zhao, 17, Rego Park, NY.

Katharina Gross was born in 1990 in Schwetzingen, Germany and started piano lessons at the age of six, first with Rita Maria Fleres and Matthias Hutter at the music school in Phi1ippsburg and later with and Karl-Wilhelm Berger at the MusikhochschuleStuttgart. Katharina is currently a student at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Rostock in the classes of Prof. Stephan Imorde and Prof. Matthias Kirschnereit. At the national competition "Jugend musiziert" Katharina has won first, second and third prizes at the "Bundeswettbewerb". She also received first prize at the Tonk & uuml;nstlerverband Stuttgart, second and third prize at the International Grotrian-Steinweg Piano competition and the first prize as well as the sponsorship award in the International Yamaha Festival in Bad Herrenalb. She has won the special award of the Belihold Hummel Stiftung in 2008 for the best interpretation of a composition in modern classical music. In 2010 she was honored at the 4th International Competition for "Verfemte Musik" with the special award of the " Wien" in connection with a concert performance in Vienna. In 2011 she reached the semi-finals in the International PianoRAMA Competition in Denmark. Since 2010, Katharina has been a scholar of the Yehudi-Menuhin Foundation "Live-Music-Now" in Rostock.

Born in 1994 in Seoul, Korea, Hong Sa-Hun has studied piano since the age of four. At the age of 16, he graduated Magna CumLaude from Texas Christian University (TCU) with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance. He is a student of Professor John Owings. He has also had lessons with Juilliard Professors Martin Canin and Yeda Kaplinsky, and has played in master classes with Paul Badura-Skoda, Leon Fleisher, Stephen Hough, Yong-Hi Moon and Nelita True. In 2010 he was named a Young Steinway Artist. He won First Prize in the 2011 Snowy Range Piano Competition in Wyoming, the 2011 Hubbard Solo and Chamber Music Competition, the 2010 Lennox International Young Artist Competition, the 2009 Fort Worth Symphony Young Artist Competition, the 2009 Leschetitzky Competition for Gifted Young Pianists in New York, and the 2009 JuanitaMiller Concerto Competition, sponsored by the Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras (TASO). He is a recipient of the Bayard H. Friedman Award for Outstanding Student in Performing Arts presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth. Sahun was featured on the nationally broadcast radio show "From the Top."

Yi-Lan Zhao was born in 1995 in Hunan Province in South China. He started to learn piano at the age of six. In May 2005, he received a first award in the Dandelion Cup China New Youth Art Competition in the Hunan Area. In 2007, Yi-Lan won the third place in the 71st STEINWAY & SONS International Piano Competition in East China. In July 2010, Yi-Lan Zhao was invited on full scholarship to attend the Piano Institute at Kent State because of his successful participation and outstanding performances at the 2nd Annual Ameri-China International Music Foundation Elite Auditions. There Yi-Lan Zhao was instructed by Dr. Donna Lee, and Jerry Wong . Yi-Lan Zhao performed in Cleveland’s Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. From 2009 to 2011, Yi-Lan Zhao studied with Gabriel Kwok from Hongkong, Tang Zhe from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Chih-Iong Hu from East Tennessee State University, Meng-Chieh Liu from Curtis, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein from New England Conservatory, Benjamin Hochman, 2011 Winner of prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Yoheved Kaplinsky and Robert McDonald from Juilliard. From September 2011 on, Yi-Lan Zhao has been studying at The Juilliard School of Music, Pre-college Division and following the famous pianist Choong Mo Kang.

Hugo Kitano, 16, is a junior at Lowell High School in San Francisco. He currently studies with Professor Hans Boepple of Santa Clara University. At age 13, Hugo performed at Carnegie Hall as a winner of both the solo and duo divisions of the American Fine Arts Festival. He also gave his San Francisco solo recital debut with the Noontime Concerts Series and his orchestral debut with the Palo Alto Philharmonic as a winner of their concerto competition. Recently, Hugo performed on NPR's From The Top in Santa Fe in October, 2011. He won the MTNA California Senior Division in November, 2011, and advanced to the Southwest Regionals in January, 2012. He was awarded first place at the 11th International Russian Music Piano Competition, the Young Pianist's Beethoven Competition, the San Francisco Young Pianists' Competition, the California Association of Professional Music Teachers' Concerto Competition, the San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists, and the Northern California Music Teachers' Association of Concerto Competition. Hugo is also a winner of the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Chopin Foundation Scholarship Competition. He has received coaching and master classes from Christopher O'Riley, Leslie Howard, Murray McLachlan (Chetham's School of Music), Di Wu (Juilliard), Gustavo Romero (UNT), Adam Wibrowski (Paris Conservatory),Wojciech Kocyan, Douglas Buys (NEC) and Melvin Chen (Bard).

The First Prize was awarded to Anna Han, age 16, from Chandler, AZ; the Second Prize to Chelsea Wang, 17, from West Des Moines, IW; the Third Prize to Anna Dmytrenko, 17, from London, UK; the Fourth Prize to Sahun Wong. The award for Best Performance of the Commissioned Work (Avner Dorman’s “Three Etudes”) went to Mackenzie Alan Melemed, 17, Paxton,MA.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation’s Sixth New York International Piano Competition, held at The Manhattan School of Music from June 18th through June 22nd, 2012, hosted twenty-two pianists, ages 16-21, from across the globe. The week-long event included four rounds plus a series of master classes and seminars. In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim remarked that “what sets it apart from other piano competitions are some unusual rules designed to guarantee that it makes a real difference in the career of a young musician, rather than merely passing judgment on it.” (June14, 2012). Unique to the New York International Piano Competition is its policy of no elimination; each contestant performed in all four rounds and was judged by a jury of some of the most distinguished members of the music community. Every participant returns home either as a prize winner or finalist award recipient.

The level of competition has been uniformly high over the event’s 10 year history; former winners have gone on to win the Gilmore Young Artist Award, The Juilliard School’s William Petschek Recital Award, the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts at Harvard University, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, and some to become National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Presidential Scholars.

Monetary awards total $40,000, but just as important as the monetary awards are the opportunities for concert and recital appearances that are awarded to winners and finalists. Held every two years, the New York International Piano Competition is dedicated to providing artistic development, educational enhancement, seminars, master classes, and performance opportunities.This year’s jurors included Ian Hobson, Tong-Il Han, Susan Starr, Alan Walker, Jane Coop, and Erik Tawaststjerna.

The internationally lauded Israeli composer Avner Dorman was commissioned by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation to compose a “required” piece for this year’s competition. Mr. Dorman’s “Three Etudes” was learned and performed by all contestants. Longtime New York Times critic Allan Kozinn wrote a feature story on Mr. Dorman in 2011 in which he noted that Mr. Dorman’s “music works its magic by melding far-flung influences and making them sound natural together. Depending on the score, an inviting neo-Romantic fabric may bear touches of modernist acerbity; vigorous, complex rhythms; themes built on Middle Eastern and Indian modes; Baroque figuration; or the accents of pop and jazz.”

Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz, Executive Directors of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, have devoted a lifetime to the musical education of young people. Internationally recognized as one of the most distinguished duo-piano teams of their generation, Stecher and Horowitz are equally renowned for their multi-faceted activities as performers, teachers, composers and educational consultants - activities that have earned them a unique position in the world of music. Having been co-directors of the Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts for 39 years, (1960-1999) it was apparent to both principals that the most important years for developing interested young musicians were the pre-teen years and into the early twenties, a good decade of concentrated and formative development. The New York Piano Competition was originally founded on this premise.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, a non-profit organization, is an outgrowth of the renowned Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts which was founded in 1960 in Cedarhurst, New York. Until 1999 the school was Nassau County’s leading conservatory of music, attended by some 15,000 students during its thirty-nine year history. The Foundation is now dedicated to an expanded concept that seeks to inspire and support outstanding young musicians worldwide.

In 2009, the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation announced two major changes in its biennial New York Piano Competition. For the first time the Competition accepted contestant applications from outside the United States effective for the summer of 2010,a change in the procedures of accepting applications only from students (American or foreign) who were pursuing studies in the United States. With this development the 2010 Competition was known as the New York International Piano Competition. In addition, it expanded its age category upwards from 14-18 years to 16-21 years — this affords contestants in the late teens the opportunity to interact musically with promising young adults, serving as a challenging incentive toward greater achievement.The original concept of allowing all contestants to complete their participation without elimination remained the same, fostering the fullest musical interaction between contestants throughout the entire span of the competition. The New York International Piano Competition remains true to its predecessor’s philosophy that the primary goal of a musical competition is to further the musical development of its contestants.

For further information, please contact Hemsing Associates at (212) 772-1132 or visit






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