2022 Sejong Music Competition Judges Profile

2022 Sejong Music Competition Judges

Final Round Judges: Dawn Wohn | Max Zorin | John Macfarlane
First Round Judges:: Yvonne Lam | Kirsten Yon

Final Round Judges: Christopher Harding | Daniela Mineva | Min Kwon
First Round Judges: Jasmin Arakawa | Alexander Bernstein | Liza Stepanova | Elizabeth Yao | Lina Yoo Min Lee | Karina Bruk

Dawn Dongeun Wohn

violin final round

Praised as having "warmth and crystal-clear tone" by Whole Note Magazine, violinist Dawn Dongeun Wohn has performed in concert halls across five continents including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. As a soloist, she has performed with orchestras for such as the Korean Broadcasting Symphony and the Aspen Conducting Orchestra. Her debut album Perspectives, featuring works by female composers was featured by the New York Times, BBC Music, Spotify and Apple Music and was chosen as one of WQXR’s best albums of the year.

As a musician with a wide range of styles and interests, Dawn often performs with new music ensembles and as guest concertmaster for orchestras in venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall to Radio City Music Hall. Recent activities include a new commission by Jungsun Kang, performances of Mark Phillip’s Violin Power for violin and interactive electronics, andinternational tours with DJ Kid Koala and the Afiara Quartet as part of an interdisciplinary live show “Nufonia Must Fall”.

As an active chamber musician, Dawn has been invited to perform at festivals such as International Musician’s Seminar Prussia Cove in England, The Banff Centre, Music@Menlo, and Aspen Music Festival. Notable collaborations include members of the Emerson Quartet, Miami String Quartet, Afiara String Quartet, Colin Carr, Roberto Plano, Susan Hoeppner and Christina Dahl.

Dawn began her violin studies at age 4 and trained at The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division as a full scholarship student of the renowned pedagogue Dorothy DeLay. Further studies include an undergraduate degree from The Juilliard School, a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University.
Committed to teaching the next generation of violinists, she is currently on faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music and teaches at Rocky Ridge Music Festival during the summers. Previously, she held the position of Associate Professor of Violin at Ohio University’s School of Music as well as Associate Concertmaster of Harrisburg Symphony. As a guest clinician she has presented and performed at over 50 schools such as NYU, New England Conservatory, Ithaca College, Bowling Green State University and Kansas University. She has also been on faculty of festivals such as the Académie Anglicorde in France, International Music Festival of the Adriatic in Italy, and Festival de Febrero in Mexico.

Dawn performs on a 1732 Nicolo Gagliano violin, and enjoys reading or spending time outdoors with her husband Jay, son Jasper and dog Wolfie (named after Mozart) when she is not performing or teaching. Her second album will be released by Delos in late 2022.

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Max Zorin

violin final round

Leading a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher, Max Zorin is a sought-after musician engaging audiences worldwide with a diverse repertoire and style.

As a soloist, Max performed with the Saint Petersburg State Orchestra, Odessa Philharmonic, Williamsport Symphony, Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra and San Jose Youth Symphony. He appeared throughout the United States, South America, Europe, China, Israel, Russia, and in prestigious venues including Tchaikovsky Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Henan Art Center in China. He also performed at festivals such as Granada International Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and collaborated with many of the world s leading chamber musicians, including Maxim Vengerov, Itamar Golan and the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet.

His 2008 debut album “French Touch”, a collection of 20th century French works for violin and piano, won a Gold Medal from the Global Music Awards and was hailed as simply magnificent” by Strings Magazine.

Driven by an eclectic passion for music that spans beyond the classical realm, Max released a music-video of his own arrangement of the well-loved jazz standard Mack The Knife”. He also appeared as a guest performer with a wide range of non-classical musicians, including rock guitarist Rik Emmett and jazz violinist Didier Lockwood. 

Max Zorin is associate professor of violin at Penn State University and regularly gives masterclasses at various institutions such as London s Royal Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University and University of Taipei. He is also co-artistic director of Recontres Musicales Internationales des Graves, a summer academy and music/wine-tasting festival in the Bordeaux region of France.

Born in Israel into a Russian family of professional musicians, Max began studying the violin at the age of five with his father and gave his first public performances when he was eight years old. At age 17 he won First Prize at the Corpus Christi International Competition. His principal teachers included Dorothy De Lay, Naoko Tanaka, Peter Ounjian, Ani Kavafian, Philip Setzer; he holds degrees from the Juilliard School, Yale, and Stony Brook University.

Max performs on a violin crafted by J.B. Vuillaume and a bow by Edwin Clement. 

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John Macfarlane

violin final round

An artist of remarkable versatility, John Macfarlane is a sought-after orchestral leader, chamber musician, conductor, vocalist, and educator. He is Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Artistic Director of Rembrandt Chamber Musicians, and Guest Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
As a chamber musician, he is a featured artist with Rembrandt Chamber Musicians, Bach Week, Rush Hour Concerts series, Dame Myra Hess series, and Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

He held the position of concertmaster with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, and Spoleto Festival. He performed as guest concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony. He has also performed with The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

As a conductor, he has been featured on live radio broadcasts on Chicago’s WFMT for the Rush Hour Concerts Series, has conducted multiple concerts with the Strings Music Festival, and served as Assistant Conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado. A dynamic advocate for the arts, he is a frequent masterclass clinician for the Betty Haag School and presents motivational seminars to advanced youth orchestras.

He received a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance and Certificate in Music Theatre from Northwestern University and a Master of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Maryland.

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Yvonne Lam

violin first round

Grammy Award-winning violinist Yvonne Lam enjoys challenging, delighting, and disarming audiences worldwide with her thoughtful musicianship, technical prowess, and fearless performance aesthetic. A champion of new music, Yvonne has performed over a hundred world premieres of commissioned works.
Her upcoming debut solo album Watch Over Us was inspired by a piece written for her by Nathalie Joachim featuring solo violin and electronic track. The album also features works by Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Kate Moore, Katherine Balch and Eve Beglarian.

As a co-artistic director of Eighth Blackbird, Yvonne toured internationally with the ensemble for eight years, performing as featured soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Lexington Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and the Tasmanian Symphony. She recorded three albums with Eighth Blackbird, winning a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for the album Filament. In 2017, she co-founded the Blackbird Creative Lab, an intensive tuition-free training program for performers and composers in Ojai, California, as a way to inspire future generations of artists to share in Eighth Blackbird’s vision of championing new work and engaging audiences with innovative and dynamic performance. In addition to teaching and mentoring at the Blackbird Creative Lab, Yvonne has given lessons, masterclasses and lectures at universities throughout the US in addition to long-term residency activities at the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Chicago, and the University of Richmond. She joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 2019, where she is an Assistant Professor of Violin and the Coordinator of Chamber Music.

Prior to joining Eighth Blackbird, Yvonne served three seasons as Assistant Concertmaster of the Washington National Opera Orchestra and as Associate Concertmaster of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. She has also appeared as soloist with such renowned orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia. Winner of the silver medal at the 2005 Michael Hill World Violin Competition, Yvonne has also garnered top prizes at the Liana Issakadze International Competition and the Holland-America Music Society Competition. She won the grand prize at the Pasadena Instrumental Competition and first prize at the Bronislaw Kaper Awards, the Arts and Talent Recognition Search festival (sponsored by the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts), and the Donna Reed Foundation Competition. Furthermore, she won prizes for the Best Performance of a Commissioned Work at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition and at the Michael Hill World Violin Competition.

An avid chamber musician, Yvonne toured the east coast with Musicians From Marlboro, collaborated with her orchestra colleagues regularly, and toured with musica aperta in Puerto Rico. She has performed at Marlboro Music Festival, Music From Angel Fire, Ravinia Music Festival, Twickenham Fest, Taos Music Festival, and Yellow Barn Music Festival, and had the privilege of playing chamber music with such distinguished musicians as Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Gil Kalish, Paul Katz, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Ida Levin, Anthony Marwood, and Roger Tapping.  Yvonne also enjoys an ongoing collaboration with the jazz bassist and composer Matt Ulery, performing with his trio in Chicago and New York, and appearing on two of his albums. Her most recent collaboration with the experimental performance group Every House Has A Door convened emerging visual artists, musicians, writers and directors in performance projects at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Chicago Art Institute. 

A native of Los Angeles, Yvonne began her early studies in violin purely by mistake, thinking it was a guitar. Refusing to admit her mistake, she persisted, studying violin and piano at the Colburn School of Performing Arts. Her violin teachers in Los Angeles included Alexander Treger, Laura Schmieder, Alice Schoenfeld, and Linda Rose; her piano teachers were Dr. Louise Lepley and Yohsuke Suga.  She continued her studies for two years at the Peabody Institute, where she studied violin with Victor Danchenko and piano with Boris Slutsky and Brian Ganz. She continued her violin studies with Victor Danchenko, earning her Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, and her Master of Music from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Robert Mann. She still has not learned to play the guitar, even though there are at least two in her basement. Yvonne has lived in every major city on the east coast except Boston, and spent eight years in Chicago. She now lives with her husband and two sons in East Lansing, Michigan.

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Kirsten Yon

violin first round

Dr. Kirsten Yon is Associate Professor of Violin and Head of the String Division at the University of Houston Moores School of Music.  Her active solo career includes recital engagements and masterclasses throughout the United States (including Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall), Brazil, Czech Republic, England, South Korea, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, France, Iceland, and Norway.  Previously on the faculty of Texas Tech University, Yon additionally taught for many years at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the International Music Academy Pilsen (Czech Republic), the Nathan Schwartzman String Festival (Uberlândia, Brazil), and the Cambridge International String Academy (England).  She toured Brazil with the Botticelli String Quartet and pianist Cristina Capparelli Gerling, traveling to Curitiba, Florianopolis, and performing several concerti with the Orquestra de Câmara Theatro São Pedro in Porto Alegre (Brazil).  The winner of multiple competitions, Yon received outstanding accolades for her performances as a concert soloist, chamber musician, and for her concerto appearances.

A versatile orchestral musician, Professor Yon held concertmaster chairs with the Bayou City Chamber Orchestra, the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, the Caprock Pro Musica Sinfonietta, Ballet Lubbock, and the Cypress Symphony, as well as performing with diverse ensembles that include the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), Aperio, the baroque ensemble Ars Lyrica, and the contemporary Musiqa ensemble.  Currently she serves as concertmaster of the Shreveport Symphony (Louisiana) under the baton of Michael Butterman. As a lauded chamber musician, Yon founded the Champlain Piano Trio, the Archiano Ensemble, the Karlin Trio, and the Botticelli String Quartet. Additional chamber performances with Rohan Da Silva, Kyung Sun Lee, Norman Fischer, and Lucie Robert.

Dedicated to musical outreach at both the community and international levels, Yon is founder and Artistic Director of Encuentro de Cuerdas, a long-term pedagogical outreach program in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Since the beginning of her professional teaching career, students from both her college and pre-college studios have won numerous solo competitions and awards.  In her early years at Texas Tech University, she was honored with a Texas Tech University Alumni Association New Faculty Award for her work at the School of Music and was elected to the Texas Tech Teaching Academy, a distinct honor within the university.  The Violin Faculty Affiliate for the Community Arts Academy at UH, Dr. Yon has also served as the president of the South Plains Suzuki Strings Foundation and is a passionate advocate for string music education. 

A frequent masterclass clinician across the world, Dr. Yon spent recent summers teaching and performing at the Texas Music Festival, ARIA International Summer Academy (Massachusetts), Cedar Valley Chamber Music (Iowa), the Naolinco International Music Festival (Mexico), and the Liberec International Violin Academy (Czech Republic).  A graduate of the University of Michigan, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Rice University, her major teachers included Kathleen Winkler, David Updegraff, William Preucil, and Raphael Fliegel.  Her debut recording on Centaur Records with cellist Jeffrey Lastrapes was released in 2015.  Apart from teaching and playing the violin, she loves cooking, reading, and spending time with her two rescue puppies Bella and Jasper!

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Christopher Harding

piano final round

Pianist Christopher Harding maintains an international presence as a noted teacher and performer. He has given solo, concerto, and chamber music performances in venues as far flung as the Kennedy Center and Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the IBK and Recital Halls of the Seoul Art Center, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the National Theater Concert Hall in Taipei, the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, and halls and festival appearances in Newfoundland, Israel, Italy, Romania, Russia, and China. His concerto performances have included concerts with the National Symphony and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestras, the San Angelo and Santa Barbara Symphonies, and the Tokyo City Philharmonic, working with such conductors as Andrew Sewell, Eric Zhou, Taijiro Iimori, Gisele Ben-Dor, Fabio Machetti, Randall Craig Fleisher, John DeMain, Ron Spiegelman, Daniel Alcott, and Darryl One, among others.

Mr. Harding’s chamber music and duo collaborations have included internationally renowned artists such as clarinetist Karl Leister, flautist Andras Adorjan, and members of the St. Lawrence and Ying String Quartets, in addition to frequent projects with his distinguished faculty colleagues at the University of Michigan. He has recorded solo and chamber music CDs for the Equilibrium and Brevard Classics labels. He has additionally edited and published critical editions and recordings of works by Claude Debussy (Children's Corner, Suite Bergamasque, the Arabesques and shorter works) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Viennese Sonatinas) for the Schirmer Performance Editions published by Hal Leonard.

Professor Harding has presented master classes and lecture recitals in universities across the United States and Asia, as well as in Israel and Canada. He is a Permanent Guest Professor at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China, where he holds the privilege of presenting yearly masterclasses; he has additionally served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the both the Sichuan Conservatory (2008) and Seoul National University (2011). While teaching at SNU, he simultaneously held a Special Chair in Piano at Ewha Womans' University. He has taught masterclasses and performed lecture recitals at all the major universities and schools of music in South Korea.

In addition to serving as Chair of Piano and teaching undergraduate and graduate piano performance and chamber music at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Mr. Harding also serves on the faculty of the Indiana University Summer Piano Academy and is a frequent guest artist and teacher at the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival in Tampa, Florida. He is a founding faculty member of the White Nights International Piano Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Harding was born of American parents in Munich, Germany and raised in Northern Virginia. His collegiate studies were with Menahem Pressler and Nelita True. Prior to college, he worked for 10 years with Milton Kidd at the American University Department of Performing Arts Preparatory Division, where he was trained in the traditions of Tobias Matthay. He has taken 25 first prizes in national and international competitions and in 1999 was awarded the special "Mozart Prize" at the Cleveland International Piano Competition, given for the best performance of a composition by Mozart. 

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Daniela Mineva

piano final round

Hailed by critics as a “vibrant and expressive performer who could steal the show in every concert” (The New York Times) and “energetic and lively pianist who displaces power and delicacy in nuanced sensitivity along with virtuoso technique” (The Baltimore Sun), Daniela Mineva’s unique approach to standard repertory, combined with the performance and dedication of works by living composers, has taken her career throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America.

Daniela has been the winner and finalist in numerous international and national competitions, including the 2007 Jean Francaix Piano Competition in Paris, France; the 1998 Steinway International Piano Competition; and the Music and Earth International Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria, among many others. During the 2007 International Piano Meeting Festival in San Daniele, Italy, she was awarded with the “Highest Artistic Level of Performance” prize for her solo recital. At the 8th International Competition for New Music in Orléans, France, Ms. Mineva and composer Vera Ivanova were awarded the “Prix André Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud sous l’égide de la Foundation de France” for Ivanova’s solo piano piece “Aftertouch,” written for Daniela Mineva.

Ms. Mineva maintains an active performing career. She has appeared as orchestral soloist, chamber music collaborator, and solo artist at some of the most prestigious venues in Bulgaria, the U.S., China, Italy, France, Greece, Russia, Germany, Thailand, and Costa Rica, among others. A strong proponent of new music, Ms. Mineva has collaborated with many young and established composers and with new-music ensembles such as Speculum Musica in New York City; Earplay in San Francisco, California; and OSSIA at the Eastman School of Music and Twenty One in Rochester, New York. Dr. Mineva has also served as the president of the International Society for Pianists and Composers in the U.S. from 2011–2018. 
Ms. Mineva has collaborated with many young and well-established composers such as William Bolcom, Lukas Foss, Kaija Saariaho, Libby Larsen, Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, Frederic Rzewski, Julia Wolfe, Krassimir Taskov, Vera Ivanova, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez to name a few. Her first CD, Volume One, presents Daniela’s passion for the music of our time and its connection to the past masters. In 2013, the Society of Composers on Capstone Records also featured her recording. Some of her performances have been heard on WXXI 91.5; Bulgarian National Radio; TV-Chanal 1; TV-SAT, Bulgaria; and Radio France Musique. 

As an accomplished and versatile chamber musician, Ms. Mineva has participated in many music festivals and summer programs, including the Tanglewood Music Festival, Institute for Contemporary Music in New York, and the San Daniele International Piano Meeting in Italy. Ms. Mineva’s passion for chamber music led to organizing the Humboldt State University Chamber Music Concert Series at Morris Graves Museum in Eureka, California. 

A devoted teacher herself, Dr. Mineva has given master classes and workshops throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, and North and South America. She has taught at the North Coast Piano Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, Russalka Piano Festival, and the Music and Earth Festival (Bulgaria), to name a few. Currently, she is Professor of Music and Director of Keyboard Studies at Humboldt State University in California, where in 2012 she won the “McCrone Promising Faculty Award.” Previously, Dr. Mineva has taught at the Eastman School of Music, where in 2007 she was awarded the “TA Excellence in Teaching” award, and at Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois. In 2015, Dr. Mineva and Professor Guo founded and directed the North Coast Piano Festival, where young pianists from all over the world participate in lessons, master classes, and compete at the North Coast Piano Competition for annual performances at Carnegie Hall. 

Born in Bulgaria, Daniela began piano lessons at the age of 5 with her mother as her first teacher. She graduated from Sofia Music Academy with the Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and the Master of Music degree in choral conducting. Dr. Mineva also holds the Master of Music degree in piano performance and the Outstanding Graduate Diploma from the University of North Texas, an Artist Certificate from Northwestern University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music.  Competition Jury member of the 2022 Third Olga Kern International Piano Competition

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Min Kwon

piano final round

In her third decade of teaching and performing, Dr. Min Kwon is in demand around the world as a dynamic teacher, having taught in Asia, Australia, and Europe in addition to numerous master classes in the U.S. Having trained in piano, violin, and cello, Kwon made her debut at twelve as piano soloist with the Korean Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic.

At fourteen, she entered the Curtis Institute of Music and shortly after debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Since then she has performed over 25 concertos around the world under James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Xian Zhang, and Gerhardt Zimmerman, among others. Her many solo and chamber music appearances include critically-acclaimed, sold-out recitals at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and in Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Madrid, Copenhagen, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, and more.

A versatile artist and chamber musician, Kwon has collaborated with Fred Hersch, Warren Jones, Cho-Liang Lin, Robert McDuffie, Jason Moran, Paul Neubauer, Arnold Steinhardt, and members of the Attaca, Guarneri, Harlem, Orpheus, Shanghai, and St. Lawrence quartets, as well as principals of major orchestras worldwide. With violinist Yoon Kwon alone, she has given over 200 performances.

Winner of the Gina Bachauer International Award, Kwon holds a D.M.A. and M.M. from The Juilliard School, where she served on the council (the first alumnus to be invited to join). She is Founder and Director of Center for Musical Excellence, a non-profit dedicated to mentoring and providing financial and professional opportunities to young artists.
For Rutgers, Kwon has directed and curated numerous concerts, including nine critically acclaimed piano galas at Weill Recital Hall, and coordinated the orchestral debut of over 60 Rutgers students through Vienna ConcertoFest. Under her tutelage, some 40 doctoral pianists have graduated.

A Steinway Artist, Kwon can be heard on RCA/BMG Red Seal and MSR Classics.

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Jasmin Arakawa

piano senior first round

Hailed by Gramophone for her ‘characterful sparkle’, Jasmin Arakawa has performed widely in North America, Central and South America, Europe, China and Japan. A prizewinner of the Jean Françaix International Music Competition, she has been heard at Carnegie Hall, Salle Gaveau in Paris and Victoria Hall in Geneva, as well as in broadcasts of the ABC Australia, BBC, CBC, PBS and Radio France. She has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Philips Symfonie Orkest in Amsterdam, Orquestra Sinfonica de Piracicaba in Brazil, and numerous orchestras in the United States and her native Japan. Other performance highlights include guest artist appearances at the Toronto Summer Festival, Ribadeo International Music Festival in Spain, Bicentenaire de Chopin in Switzerland, Scotiabank Northern Lights Music Festival in Mexico, Festival de Música de Cámara in Peru, Festival Internacional de Música Erudita de Piracicaba in Brazil, Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago and Distinguished Concerts International in New York.

She has a special interest in Spanish repertoire, which grew out of a series of lessons with Alicia de Larrocha. As a prizewinner of the Competition in the Performance of Music from Spain and Latin America and under the sponsorship of the Spanish Embassy, she subsequently recorded solo and chamber pieces by Spanish and Latin American composers.
Arakawa has collaborated with notable artists including cellists Zuill Bailey, Colin Carr and Gary Hoffman, flutists Jean Ferrandis, Marina Piccinini and Carol Wincenc, clarinetist James Campbell, and the Penderecki String Quartet. In addition, she has served as Collaborative Pianist in Residence at the Banff Centre in Canada for three seasons.

Arakawa is a graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts, and holds Doctor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Emile Naoumoff, the last protégé of Nadia Boulanger. A recipient of the 2016 Steinway Top Teacher Award, Arakawa has given master classes at China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Peru, Instituto Baccarelli in Brazil, and numerous universities in North America and Europe.

A sought-after adjudicator, Arakawa has served on the juries of international and national competitions, including the International Chopin Piano Competition for Latin American Pianists in Peru, and New Orleans Piano Institute Competition. Jasmin Arakawa is Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at the University of Florida, and the Director of the UF International Piano Festival.


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Alexander Bernstein

piano senior first round

Alexander Bernstein has performed in 16 countries across the US, Europe and Asia. Alexander has earned top prizes from international competitions in the US, Ireland, Austria, Germany, and Italy. He also attended numerous summer festivals and was the pianist for the resident new music ensembles at the Aspen Musical Festival and Tanglewood Music Center. As a devotee of new music he also recorded a CD of solo piano works by the Irish composer, Ryan Molloy.

Alexander holds a Doctorate from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Ireland, a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University, a Master’s Degree from the Royal Irish Academy of Music and an Artist Diploma from Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University.

Alexander has recently been named the new full-time professor of piano at Shenandoah Conservatory at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. In addition to a full teaching schedule, this concert season includes solo and concerto performances in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Washington State, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and a tour of Chile with the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. Along with those performances will be masterclasses, outreach programs, and composition workshops designed to bring pianists and composers together.

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Liza Stepanova

piano junior first round

Praised by The New York Times for her “thoughtful musicality” and “fleet-fingered panache,” Liza Stepanova has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie, the Weill and Zankel recital halls at Carnegie Hall; Alice Tully, Merkin, David Geffen, and Steinway halls in New York City, and at the Kennedy Center. She has appeared as a soloist with conductors James DePreist and Nicholas McGegan and live on WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, and WETA Washington. 2022-23 concert highlights include a return to the Bowdoin Music Festival, solo recitals in the Southeast, and chamber music tours with the Lysander Piano Trio, winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, in Canada, and across the US at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, in New York City, Arizona, Florida, Wyoming, and more.

In the fall of 2020, Stepanova was featured as Musical America Worldwide's "New Artist of the Month," a distinction celebrating her work and particularly the impact of her recent solo CD "E Pluribus Unum." The album, which features a commission and three world-premiere recordings of music by American composers with an immigrant background, received universal praise with reviews in the top three British classical music journals: GramophoneBBC Music Magazine, and International Piano. The disc was broadcast widely on national and international radio including "Album of the Week" on Canada's public radio, in Australia, and across the US. Two years earlier, in 2018, Stepanova released her acclaimed debut solo album “Tones & Colors: Music and Visual Art,” recorded in New York City with Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse. The recording featured music from Bach to Ligeti that was inspired by visual art.

Stepanova is one of the founders of the Chamber Music Athens festival in Georgia and enjoys broad responsibilities for the artistic administration of the event. At the 2022 CMA, she performed the world premiere of a new trio by Lowell Liebermann. Deeply committed to new music, she had previously premiered works by Jennifer Higdon and Libby Larsen and worked with composers William Bolcom, Gabriela Lena Frank, and John Harbison.

Stepanova also has a special interest in art song having worked in multiple festivals with the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Since 2010, she has been a faculty member and, for two years, was Associate Artistic Director at the SongFest festival, which has been held at The Colburn School in Los Angeles and at San Francisco Conservatory.

Stepanova holds degrees from the “Hanns Eisler” Academy in Berlin, Germany (BM) and The Juilliard School (MM, DMA) where she studied with Joseph Kalichstein, Seymour Lipkin, Jerome Lowenthal, and George Sava. Following teaching positions at Juilliard and Smith College, she is currently an associate professor of piano and piano area chair at the University of Georgia. Her UGA students have been invited to the Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Piano Texas, and Salzburg Mozarteum summer programs, admitted to elite graduate programs, and consistently win competitions and awards.

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Elizabeth Yao

piano Junior first round

Elizabeth Yao is Lecturer of Music in Piano at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she is directs the Young Pianists Program and the Summer Piano Academy, teaches piano pedagogy, and coordinates the secondary piano program.

Yao has been praised for her sincerity of expression and the “intelligent, emotional coherence” of her musical interpretations. She has been featured as guest soloist with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony and as a guest artist on Spokane Public Radio’s “From the Studio” Program. Other distinctions have included prizes and awards at the Southern Illinois Young Artists Organization Instrumental Competition, the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Collegiate Scholarship Competition, the Lima Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and the Ladies Musical Club Award Tour Competition.

As a collaborator, she has played with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and the modern music ensemble Inverted Space.
As an educator and a music advocate, Yao has worked with students of all levels and ages, with an emphasis on accessibility, student self-efficacy, and student wellness. She has toured with the San Francisco Symphony Adventures in Music educational outreach program, performing and teaching about music to thousands of elementary school students throughout the San Francisco Unified School District. She has presented her research at the MTNA Collegiate Chapters Symposium, and has been invited as a guest panelist at the Jacobs Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development and the CCM collegiate chapter of MTNA.

Yao completed her doctoral degree at Indiana University, with double minors in Music Theory and Music History and Literature, under the tutelage of Distinguished Professor André Watts. Her doctoral document, “Let the Record Show,” analyzes historical and recent recordings as an entry point for contextualizing and understanding the evolution of performance practices over the past hundred years. She completed her master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the teaching of Mack McCray, and she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with double bachelor’s degrees in Piano Performance (with Honors) and Chinese.

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Lina Yoo Min Lee

piano elementary first round

Award-winning pianist Lina Yoo Min Lee enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician and educator across the world, mostly in the United States and South Korea. She has been captivating audiences with her personal and insightful expressionist style. She has appeared in venues such as Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Ceramic Palace Hall, Mozart Hall and Win Hall in Korea.

Lee has been invited to adjudicate competitions, serve on the juries of national auditions & exams and conduct masterclasses, most recently at the Wisconsin MTNA Piano Competitions in 2019. She has given workshops and presentations internationally. In 2022, she presented lecture recitals at the University of Kansas in the U.S. and at the Seoul National University in Korea. In 2021, she gave a lecture-recital at the European Piano Teachers Association International Conference in Spain and performed at Stanford University. She has also appeared at an online live forum for the Frances Clark Center National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in 2020.

Passionate about community engagement & arts outreach and dedicated to promoting the works of underrepresented and historically & systematically marginalized composers, Lee is the Founder and Artistic Director of the DEIB Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, which acts to facilitate awareness and provide social justice opportunities for the community through a series of events focusing on DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging), leadership, collaboration and community engagement.

She is also currently the Chair of Madison Area Music Educators for programs and masterclasses, a non-profit organization for fostering growth and enrichment in the cultural and artistic life of the local community. She currently serves on the piano faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She taught students at the Peabody Preparatory School of the Johns Hopkins University through the Peabody pedagogy internship program. She also held a position as an official music theory tutor for undergraduate students at the Peabody Institute. She has offered group piano courses such as Class Piano and Keyboard Skills as well as one-on-one applied music lessons for both music and non-music majors, covering basic to advanced piano skills at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2018.

Lee earned both B.M. in Piano Performance and M.M. degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University under a Lucy Brown Memorial Piano Scholarship, Lydia and Richard Gillespie Endowed Scholarship and Yeojung Annual Piano Scholarship. She also completed a D.M.A. with a full scholarship in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with the Jeanette Ross Award. Her major teachers include Yong Hi Moon and Jessica Johnson, who have always been inspirations in her work.


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Karina Bruk

piano elementary first round

Dr. Karina Bruk is on the music  faculty of Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University where she teaches piano and chamber music as well as coordinates the accompanying services for the department.

She has performed solo, chamber music, and lecture recitals both in the United States (Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, among others) and abroad. Bruk has presented master classes and workshops at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (Newark, NJ), the Handel Haus (Halle, Germany), The Isidor Bajic Music School (Novi Sad, Serbia), and throughout the local area. She performs with pianist Paul Hoffmann as the Bruk-Hoffmann Piano Duo and with baritone Perry Fine as the Fine-Bruk Duo.

Bruk has been a recipient of numerous awards, among them the GeniaRobinor Award for Teaching Excellence presented by the Piano Teachers Society of America, the Certificate of Excellence in Piano Pedagogy and the Recognition Award for the contribution to the field of Music Education presented by the Sound Espressivo Competitions.  She has articles published in DSCH Journal and the Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century Encyclopedia; and  has had scholarly works  presented at the International Conference of Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Bruk has served as the graduate advisor and coordinator for graduate studies in music: the master of music, artist diploma and doctor of musical arts for the Mason Gross School of the Arts; the graduate advisor and coordinator for the master of arts and doctor of philosophy in composition, musicology and theory  for the School of Graduate Studies (2011–17); and as coordinator of the piano lab (2005–12). Bruk was also chair of the piano department at the Newark School of the Arts (2003–11) and served as an artist-in-residence (2011–14). She has been a judicator for the annual Young Artist Talent Search Jeffrey Carollo Scholarship Auditions at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.   Currently she is an adjudicator for the bi-annual NJ State Solo and Ensemble Festivals.

Bruk  holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music (BM, MM) and Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University (DMA) Her professional organization affiliations include World Piano Teachers Association, Piano Teachers Society of America, and the Music Educators Association of New Jersey. 

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