HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 13, 2016 – Three talented pianists competed for the top prize at High Point University’s annual piano competition on Sept. 10. After being selected from a pool of applicants ages 15-25 from around the world, the finalists performed for a crowd of more than 200 HPU students, faculty and community members at Hayworth Fine Arts Center.
Taiwanese pianist Yi-Yang Chen won first place and a $5,000 prize. Angie Zhang was awarded second place and $3,000; Phuong Nguyen received third place and $2,000.
“It was a great treat to perform in this beautiful hall and to play one of Van Cliburn’s personal pianos,” said Chen. “I am definitely looking forward to returning to HPU for a recital in the spring.”
Chen has been training on piano since age 8. He was admitted as a graduate student to Robert McDonald and Jerome Lowenthal at The Juilliard School in 2012 and obtained his Master of Music in piano performance in 2014. He is currently a doctoral student in piano performance at Eastman School of Music, where he also received a Bachelor of Music while studying under Douglas Humpherys.
He has attended the Perlman Music Program, Taos School of Music Summer Chamber Music Program, Four Seasons Winter Workshop (N.C.) and was awarded a fellowship at Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara during summer 2012. In addition, he has studied chamber music with Itzhak Perlman, Thomas Sauer and with members of the Cleveland, Shanghai, Borromeo, Brentano and Guarneri String Quartets. Earlier this year, he won first prize in the Hartford Chopin International Piano competition.
“The recitals heard at this year’s piano competition were truly world-class performances of the quality you’d hear in New York, Paris or any major metropolitan area,” said Marcia Dills, assistant professor of music, who organized the competition. “This is a wonderful gift to the community to be able to hear the best of the best, and it wouldn’t be possible without the generous gift from Randall Johnson. We look forward to the continued growth of this event in the years to come.”
The piano competition, which was held for the first time in 2015, is made possible by a $1.1 million gift from Randall T. Johnson, a native and resident of High Point and member of the HPU Board of Visitors. He is a retired executive in the food brokerage business in Florida and a patron of the arts across the Piedmont.