2024 Finalists

Congratulations to our 2024 Finalists!

Yufei Cathy Chen

New York City, NY

Yufei Cathy Chen, sixteen, from New York, NY, was accepted to the Juilliard School in 2018, under Prof. Matti Raekallio. Presently, she studies with Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky and Dr. Yiheng Yang.
Her performances have graced prestigious venues like Paul Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Kaufman Concert Hall, Leighton Concert Hall, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, Merkin Concert Hall, Qingdao Grand Theatre, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts. In  2024, her chamber group, Clio Trio, was selected as a quarterfinalist in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition and obtaining first place in the CAI competition. In This past January she was invited to work  with the Little Orchestra Society to perform Brahms’s Concerto No.1 with conductor David Alan Miller. In the summer of 2023, she was accepted by the Aspen Music Festival with full fellowship, mentored by Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky, and received a nomination for the opening performance of the Overture series. 
Yufei holds the honor of being a Lang Lang Foundation Young Scholar from 2022 to 2024 and winner of the 2023 and 2024 YoungArts competition. She has secured top accolades, including first place in the Steinway Piano Competition (North China), Yamaha USASU competition judge’s discretionary award, Bella Grande Competition first place, Piano Star Competition first prize and bronze medal, grand prize at the ENKOR International Music Competition, and the Steinway Special Award for the Kaufman International Youth Piano Competition. Her commitment extends to teaching young children piano and earning the Gold Medal for the President's Volunteer Service Award. 

Jonathan Mei

Charleston, SC

Jonathan Mei, fifteen, is a ninth-grader at Academic Magnet High School in Charleston, South Carolina. He currently studies piano under the guidance of Dr. Marina Lomazov and previously studied with Dr. Irina Pevzner. Johnny has won multiple scholarships and awards, including the Charleston Music Club Lancaster-King Piano Award and Music Matters! Award, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra League (CSOL) summer study scholarship, first place at the statewide South Carolina Music Teachers Association Piano Competition, and first prize at the 2019 South Carolina Steinway Junior Piano Competition. He won the 2021, 2022, and 2023 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) State Piano Competition and 2022 MTNA Southern Division Piano Competition, where he was a 2022 MTNA Junior Piano National Finalist. Jonathan and his sister, Angela Mei, were national finalists in the 2020 and 2021 MTNA Senior Piano Duet Competition and national third place winners in the 2021 MTNA Senior Piano Duet Competition. Johnny’s hobbies include swimming and reading.

Henry Shao

Sylvania, OH

Henry Shao, sixteen years old, is a sophomore at Southview High School in Sylvania, Ohio. A piano student of Esther Chiu and Frances Renzi, he has performed twice as a soloist with the Sylvania Community Orchestra. Henry has won several piano competitions and earlier this year placed as a finalist in the David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition at Bowling Green State University. Recently, he won the Young Artist Competition and performed as a soloist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. He also is the assistant principal cellist in the Philharmonic ensemble of the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Making music is important to Henry because it allows him to share the music he enjoys with others. He finds joy in the process of learning and problem solving while practicing because it brings him satisfaction when he gets to know a piece well. He enjoys his Mozart concerto (No. 20) because it is a very intense but joyful piece to play. As one of the few Mozart concertos written in a minor key, it brings out intense drama in both movements, but resolves to a happy, joyful theme in the end.