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Curtis graduates and students take top competition prizes

Curtis Institute
of Music violin student Ray Chen of Australia has won First Prize and the Queen Fabiola Prize at Belgium’s prestigious Queen
Elisabeth Competition
hot on the heels of the First Prize win at Fort Worth’s Van Cliburn International Piano Competition by current Curtis student Haochen Zhang, 19,
the youngest of this year’s participants. 
Dallas Morning News critic Scott
Cantrell praised Zhang, writing that he “demonstrated a musical
maturity almost unimaginable in one so young” and that he “impressed with
depth of musical understanding and subtle expressive nuance … At the
competition’s end, he was the musician I’d walk across town to hear.”

who studied at Curtis with Aaron Rosand, David Cerone, Pamela Frank, and Joseph
Silverstein, gave his first concert at the age of eight with the Queensland
Philharmonic Orchestra; the next year he was invited to play at the opening
ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Japan. Last year he won first prize at the
Yehudi Menuhin Competition, and since then has performed in a number of countries
with various orchestras.  Earlier
this year he won first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions
in New York. Chen will make his New York and Washington debuts in the Young
Concert Artists Series on January 12, 2010 at Merkin Hall, and at the Kennedy
Center’s Terrace Theater on December 8, 2009.

violinist from the Czech Republic who just graduated from Curtis, won the Michael
Hill International Violin Competition
in New Zealand, a new and noteworthy
competition.  Chen and Spacek (nicknamed
“Pepa”) were co-concertmasters of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra last year.
During last spring’s Curtis On Tour, Pepa was the violinist in Stravinsky’s Histoire
du soldat
earning excellent reviews in Philadelphia, Miami, and Seattle.

Nikki Chooi, 20, a Curtis violin student of Joseph Silverstein and Ida
Kavafian, took first prize at the Irving M. Klein International String
that has taken place each June since 1985 in San Francisco. Additionally, Wang Jie, a 2009 composition graduate of
Curtis, won the American Composers Orchestra’s 2009 Underwood Emerging
Composers Commission

for a work to be premiered by ACO’s Orchestra Underground.

Curtis students and recent graduates made their Philadelphia Orchestra debuts in
three days at the Mann Center this summer. Violinist Benjamin Beilman performed Beethoven’s Romance No. 2
and 2009 graduate Kyu Yeon Kim performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 on June 29. The
following evening, twin pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton performed Saint-Saëns’s Carnival
of the Animals
Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365, and on July 1, violinist Yu-Chien
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with conductor and harpsichordist Lio Kuokman, a 2009 graduate. Kuokman also led
the Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Mozart’s Overture to The
Marriage of Figaro

Curtis students and 2009 graduates will sing lead roles under James Levine in
Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Tanglewood. 
The lucky young singers who will work so soon with the most esteemed
opera conductor in the United States are Elliot Madore, Evan Hughes, Layla
Claire, and Elizabeth Reiter.  Three
other vocal students, Karen Jesse, Allison Sanders, and Rinnat Moriah, just
starred in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Benjamin Britten’s
Rape of Lucretia.

One of the
world’s leading music schools, the Curtis Institute of Music provides full-tuition scholarships
to all of its 162 students, ensuring that admissions are based solely on
artistic promise.  A Curtis
education is uniquely tailored to the individual student, with personalized
attention from a celebrated faculty and unusually frequent performance
opportunities.  This distinctive
“learn by doing” approach to musical training has produced an impressive number
of notable artists, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to
current stars Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Leila Josefowicz,Jennifer Higdon,
and Lang Lang. 

Highlights of
the 2009-2010 season include the centenary celebration of Curtis
alumnus Samuel Barber (’34), with performances of Barber’s Symphony No. 1 by the Curtis
Symphony Orchestra,
and his String
Quartet Op. 11 by Curtis On Tour,
as well as a production of Antony and Cleopatra by the Curtis Opera Theatre, presented by the Kimmel Center and the Opera Company
of Philadelphia.

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