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Three Musical Virtuosos Named Winners of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2014 Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition

April 21, 2014

Pianist, Violist, and Soprano Win Opportunities to Perform with

The Philadelphia Orchestra


(Philadelphia, April 18, 2014)–Three young musicians have won the 2014 Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition. There were 12 finalists competing for a coveted opportunity to perform with the Orchestra during its 2014-15 season. Throughout the Competition’s preliminary auditions, 62 competitors in the three divisions—senior, junior, and children’s—performed, resulting in the 12 finalists. The finalists went on to audition on the stage of Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center in front of a live audience, where a winner from each division was selected.

The 2014 winners are soprano Sarah Shafer, 25, of Philadelphia, who won the Senior Division; violist Hae Sue Lee, 14, of Philadelphia, who won the Junior Division; and pianist Melody Yu, 11, of Downingtown, PA, who won the Children’s Division.

Shafer performed songs by Brahms, Barber, and Mozart. Lee performed Walton’s Viola Concerto, and Yu’s winning piece was the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.

Honorable mentions in the Senior Division went to violinists Aaron Timothy Chooi, 19, of Philadelphia, and Shannon Lee, 21, also of Philadelphia. Junior Division honorable mentions went to pianist Matthew Eng, 15, of Philadelphia, and violinist Sein An, 16, of Maple Glen, PA. Carson Atlas, 12, of Haverford, PA, received an honorable mention for his piano performance in the Children’s Division.

“I was incredibly impressed not just by the hard work everyone put into this performance, but I was equally moved by the maturity of the music making itself. This stood out to me and there is no doubt in my mind so many of them will go on to have a very successful career in music,” said Cristian Măcelaru, the Orchestra’s associate conductor.

Then-Music Director Leopold Stokowski first initiated a Philadelphia Orchestra Student Competition in 1933, later named in 1992 in recognition of a generous endowment gift from the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation. This annual Competition is open to young vocalists, pianists, and instrumentalists who reside in, or study regularly with, a teacher who lives in Greater Philadelphia. Entrants are divided into categories by age, and are adjudicated against a standard of excellence on the following merits: exceptional talent, virtuosity, artistic individuality, and projection as a performer. Since its inception, more than 400 winners have appeared with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and many have established international solo careers, includingsopranos Judith Blegen and Benita Valente, and mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar; pianists André Watts, Richard Goode, and Eugene Istomin; and violinists Hilary Hahn, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Arnold Steinhardt. Many current Philadelphia Orchestra musicians are also former winners of the Competition, including violinists Juliette Kang (first associate concertmaster), Richard Amoroso, Yayoi Numazawa, and Yumi Ninomiya Scott; violist Burchard Tang; bassoonist Mark Gigliotti (co-principal); bass trombone Blair Bollinger; and pianist Kiyoko Takeuti.

The Competition is one of many programs underscoring The Philadelphia Orchestra’s unwavering commitment to education and arts cultivation in youth and families with young children. Programs like School Concerts, eZseatU (an annual college student membership program), and theAlbert M. Greenfield Student Competition impact more than 17,000 elementary, middle, high school, and college students annually. In addition to its work with students, the Orchestra remains committed to engaging young families in the local community and the community at large, with interactive programs such as Sound All Around (for children ages 3-5) and Family Concerts (for children ages 6-12). Additionally, the Billy Joel School Concert Program—created through a generous gift from Billy Joel in 2008—provides financial and curricular support to over 80 city elementary and middle schools each year. The Orchestra also offers learning programs just for adults, including free PreConcert Conversations before every subscription concert, Lecture/Luncheons with guest speakers, and Post-Concert Conversations—offering an unparalleled opportunity for concertgoers to ask questions about the music they have just heard, and connect with the artists in a more intimate and personal way.

 Sarah Shafer

Soprano Sarah Shafer has sung principal roles with companies such as San Francisco Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera Philadelphia, and Opera Memphis. She was heard most recently as Nuria in Golijov‘s Ainadamar with Opera Philadelphia. She has appeared with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Royal Albert Hall in London, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Quad City Symphony, and the Maryland and Richmond symphonies. Recent works performed include Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Fauré’s Requiem, and Tchaikovsky’s Duet for soprano and tenor.

This spring she performs Bach's St. John Passion with the National Orchestra of Mexico. In June she travels to Poland to sing Lutoslawski’s Chantefleurs et Chantefables and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Wrocław Symphony. Shafer recently made her Carnegie Hall debut performing as a soloist with the New York Choral Society in works by Respighi and Finzi. She is an active recitalist and chamber musician, and has collaborated with artists such as pianist Richard Goode, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.

Upcoming seasons include leading roles with San Francisco Opera and Opera Philadelphia. Shafer is currently finishing her studies in the opera program at the Curtis Institute of Music, having sung over a dozen roles and participated in more than 20 Curtis operas. Most recently she sang the role of Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmeliteswith Curtis Opera Theater in Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center.

 Hae Sue Lee

Currently a student at the Curtis Institute of Music, Hae Sue Lee started the viola at the age of eight.

At age nine, she entered the Juilliard Pre-College Program with Toby Appel as her mentor. At Juilliard she won first place in the New York International Music Competition as well as the Alex & Buono International String Competition, which afforded her the opportunity to play in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Lee also performed with New York Ensemble 212 and Yoon Jae Lee at the Kaufmann Center.

Lee relocated to Seoul, South Korea, in 2010 and continued her viola studies with Soon Wha Oh at the Korea National University of the Arts. While in Korea, she won first place in numerous competitions in which she was acclaimed for her passionate performances.

In 2011 Lee was invited as part of a trio to the Korean President’s “Blue House” to perform for the visiting Malaysian king. Subsequently, she was invited to the Malaysian International Children Arts Festival. She also performed in the Kumho Prodigy Solo Concert in Seoul, and the Sun Rising Matinee Classic Solo Recital at the Korean Culture Center in Paris. In 2012 she was invited to perform at the Dubai Emirates International Peace Music Festival for Young Virtuosos.

 In 2013, at the age of 13, Lee performed the Concerto Competition Winner’s Performance at the Great Moments in Music Festival in Korea. She then relocated to Philadelphia and was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music where she is currently taught by Roberto Díaz and Hsin Yun Huang.

Melody Yu

Melody Yu started studying piano with Nelly Berman at five. She is currently a student of Maxim Mogilevsky and Anna Kislitsyna at the Nelly Berman School of Music. She debuted in the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts at the age of six as the Platinum Prize winner of the Golden Key Piano Competition. Yu is also the First Prize Winner of the International Crescendo International Piano Competition and the Young Classical Virtuosos of Tomorrow Competition and has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall. Yu is also a winner of the West Chester Pre-Collegiate Piano Competition. Most recently, she was a winner of the Ambler Symphony Menges Scholarship Competition, and performed as a soloist with Ambler Symphony in March 2014. She is also the first place winner of the 2014 Chopin International Competition in Hartford, CT.

Yu attended a summer piano training program at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute in 2010 and attended master classes with world renowned piano pedagogues. As a Chanlan Lee Music Scholarship recipient and Nelly Berman School of Music Full Scholarship recipient for five years, she has participated in many fund-raising concerts for charity such as the New York Sandy Benefit Concert. An active chamber musician, Yu was a violinist in the Philadelphia Youth String Ensemble in 2012-13 and a pianist in Nelly Berman School Chamber Music Quartet. In her spare time, she loves to play lacrosse, dance, read, and bake.

The Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra has a decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages across the Delaware Valley. Among the ways in which the Orchestra introduces orchestral music to a new generation of listeners are concerts for families and schoolchildren and eZseatU, which allows full-time college students to attend an unlimited number of Orchestra concerts for a $25 annual membership fee. Community concerts include free Pop-Ups, an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert, and Neighborhood Concerts. PreConcert and Post-Concert Conversations bring concert-goers closer to the music, musicians, and conductors. Musician-led initiatives such as the PlayINs shine a spotlight on the Orchestra’s musicians, as they spread out from the stage into the community, and serve a key role in growing musician talent and a love of classical music in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors.    

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment tocollaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 the Orchestra has reinvigorated and launched new partnerships with Opera Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (FringeArts), Philadanco the Curtis Institute of Music, the Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been heralded by critics and audiences alike for his highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming. He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community. His concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concert-goers through PostConcert Conversations, as well as returning the Orchestra both to recording and to regular radio broadcasts. He is increasingly engaged with musicians in the Philadelphia community having conducted a Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert, a Neighborhood Concert, and a free Pop-Up Concert, in addition to leading the All-City Orchestra and Choir and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. The New York Times has calledNézet-Séguin “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.”

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.