Meet the 50 Semi-Finalists of Classicalia's inaugural competition.
Semi-Finalists of Category 1: 11 years old and under
Canadian pianist Justin Chen began studying the piano at age six, composition at age seven, made his Carnegie Hall debut at age eight, won the Canadian Music Trophy in the CCC Music Festival at age nine, and began studying at The Royal Conservatory Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists at age ten. He was invited to perform his own composition at the Canadian Junior Original Concert in Winnipeg and in the same year, participated in masterclasses in Vienna with Professor Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajaz. In 2020 and 2021, Justin won the Gold Prize in the Steinway Piano Competition. He won first place in the 2021 GOCAA International Piano Competition and became a 2021 GOCCA Young Artist. Justin loves to do things that require creativity. As a classical music lover, he is always finding ways to connect classical music to other parts of his life.
Austrian pianist Celina Höferlin started studying music at five and began at Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory – Music Academy Frankfurt at age six. Since then, she has been a frequent prize winner of competitions including the Steinway Piano Competition in Hamburg, Henle Piano Competition, Münchner Klavierpodium, International Feurich Competition with the invitation to the Clavis Piano Festival St Petersburg, International Grotrian-Steinweg Piano Competition with a special prize by Braunschweigische Louis Spohr Gesellschaft, and International Piano Competition Frederic Chopin in Bacau with highest scores. She has performed at Gläserner Saal in Vienna’s Musikverein, at Laeiszhalle Hamburg, at the Staatstheater Braunschweig, at Carnegie Hall in New York, and at Kammermusiksaal in the Berliner Philharmonie. She is currently a pre-college student with Andreas Weber at the Mozarteum. Besides piano, Celina loves playing flute, painting, reading, doing handicrafts, and going to operas.
Semi-Finalist in both Piano and Violin
Born in Taiwan, Shang-En Hsieh began learning piano and violin at the age of five. Since 2017 he has been widely recognized on both instruments with a unique stage charisma and been invited to perform as a soloist with orchestras. He has participated in numerous Taiwanese and international music competitions and has won more than one hundred first prizes. He was the winner of MozARTe Aachen, Piano Talents and Merci, Maestro! International Piano Competitions. He won first prize in Academy of Taiwan Strings, Città di Barletta, Osaka and Josef Micka Violin Competitions, and major prizes in Young Musician Tallinn, Leonid Kogan and K. Lipinski & H. Wieniawski International Competition for Young Violinists. He currently studies piano with Andreas Weber at the Mozarteum, and violin with Igor Petrushevski of Richard Wagner Conservatory.
Ontario-based pianist Ryan Huang was recently awarded first prize in the XXII The Nutcracker International Televised Music Competition in Moscow (2021). Other competitive achievements include first prizes at the Young Euregio Piano Award International Competition (Germany, 2021); WPTA Finland International Piano Competition (2021), Steinway & Son Junior Competition (Canada, 2020/2019), Canadian Music Competition (Canada, 2018), and GOCAA International Competition (USA, 2018); and second prize at the 27th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youth (Poland, 2019). Ryan has performed in halls including Carnegie Hall and Shanghai Symphony Hall, and with orchestras including Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra in China, Moscow Symphony Orchestra in Russia, Tarnow Chamber Orchestra in Poland, and Napoli Youth Orchestra in Italy. In addition to his piano studies, he has earned High Honors by John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in both math and language. In his leisure time, Ryan likes to play chess, hockey, and baseball.
Russian pianist Aleksandra Ilyasova began playing the piano at six years old. She is currently a student at Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music, studying with Elena Berezkina. In 2021 Aleksandra was a first prize laureate of III John Field International Competition (Ireland-Russia). She has had the wonderful opportunity to play with an orchestra already on several occasions: she was the 2020 second prize winner of Concert for Piano and Orchestra All-Russian Competition. Some of her current repertoire includes Bach’s Concerto No. 5 in F minor, and the first movements of both Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major and Mozart’s Concerto No. 8 in C Major.
Canadian violinist Salma Khakimov is a multi-award winner from the North York Music Festival, Unionville Music Academy Competition (2018, 2019, 2020) and Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association competitions since she was five years old. In 2021, she participated in the OMNI Competition, and won the Yannick Nézet-Séguin Prize, with a $2,000 scholarship. In addition, she won first prize at the Ontario Music Festivals Association Provincials for Grade 10. Salma regularly performs at recitals, outreach concerts and events with her flute-playing brother, Karim. In 2019, Salma was accepted to the Phil and Eli Taylor Music Academy for Young Artists, and in 2021, she received full tuition scholarship, studying with Marie Bérard. When not playing violin, Salma enjoys playing piano, dancing, reading, painting and photography, and expanding her intellectual and spiritual horizons. Her favourite composers are Bach, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Kabalevsky.
Thai pianist Thannapas Luanpitpong started piano at age three, and is currently studying with Pornphan Banternghansa and Christopher Janwong Mckiggan at the Piano Academy of Bangkok. She has won numerous first prizes in music competitions including: the Platinum Prize for highest score in The Joyeux Music International Competition (Singapore, 2021), first prize and Best Etude Award at The UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition (Malaysia, 2020), first prize at Southeast Asia Piano Competition (Malaysia, 2020), and first prize at Yamaha Thailand Music Festival (Electone solo in 2020, piano solo and kids singing in 2019). She won third prize at the Sicily International Piano Festival & Competition (Italy, 2019) for piano solo (ages 8-18), and was invited to perform at three concerts at Carnegie Hall at age six. Thannapas has been named an Outstanding Youth by the Thai Ministry of Education for her achievements in music.
Noah Petersen is a pianist from British Columbia, Canada, studying in the gifted learners’ program at his elementary school. He has studied piano since turning five, and finds that playing music brings beauty and colours to life. He is an award winner from numerous music competitions and has had the opportunity to perform in various provincial and international events. Always interested in acquiring new skills and taking on new challenges, Noah is learning to play the drums in a rock band at his school. His other passions include playing soccer and pencil sketching. Before the pandemic he was part of the advanced development team in his city’s soccer club. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his big brother, read, draw anime and dragons, watch movies, take walks with his family, swim, ski, and eat sushi and dim-sum!
Austrian pianist Sunny Ritter has studied at the Musikuniversität Wien, Toronto’s RCM Taylor Academy, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Since her first gold medal at six years old, Sunny has triumphed at more than 25 international piano competitions in Austria, Germany, Italy, Romania, Russia, and Canada. She swept up the first prize and all special prizes at the Steinway Klavierspielwettbewerb and received the Grand Prize across all age categories at Mihaela Ursuleasa IPC. At 10, she competed at the senior level and won the top prize at Toronto’s Kiwanis Festival. Sunny made her orchestral debut in Bucharest and at Vienna’s Rathaus at eight years old. Although COVID-19 postponed her Koerner Hall debut, Sunny didn’t miss a beat. A pioneer of the lockdown-livestream, she was soon performing solo recitals like Playing from my Heart for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. The lockdowns have made her all the more grateful for live performing opportunities.
From Bosnia and Herzegovina, Antonio started playing violin at seven years old. He has had the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Mostar Symphony Orchestra in his hometown on several occasions, and has begun winning awards in international competitions in Croatia, BiH, Serbia, Slovenia, Northern Macedonia, Italy, Spain, Russia, and France. He is proud to have claimed several laureate prizes not only within these music competitions, but also academically: he won recognition for his standing as one of the best overall students in the country during the last academic year. Antonio attends the music school Muzička škola I i II stupnja Mostar and studies with Ana Pranjković. He regularly attends masterclasses with renowned violinists and pedagogues.
Calliope Smith has been playing the violin since she was three, and currently studies at the San Francisco Conservatory Pre-College with Natasha Makhijani. She attends Synapse School in California and is a member of the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, winning this ensemble’s concerto competition for three years in a row. Calliope has been awarded first prizes in many competitions, including the Vivo, Crescendo International, Little Mozarts, Great Composers, and Rising Talents of the Americas competitions. She was the youngest prize winner in the 2020 Enkor Violin Competition as well as a finalist in the 2021 Vancouver Competition. Calliope recently played in masterclasses for Ariana Kim, Violetta Todorova, Tanya Tomkins, and David Chernyavsky. In her spare time, Calliope loves reading, cooking, and doing math. When she grows up, she wants to be a violinist, composer, conductor, and astrophysicist.
SOPHIE WAGNER & ALEXANDER WAGNER
Sibling piano duo from Germany, Sophie and Alexander Wagner have been performing together and winning competitions for several years. The pair started playing piano at age five and currently study with Ilja Scheps. At nine, Alexander performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20. with the Shanghai Symphonic Orchestra conducted by his grandfather Runyu Hou. As an encore he played Mozart’s Turkish March with his five-year-old sister Sophie, and since then, the children have performed in various international competitions together, returning home with first prizes at: Steinway Piano Competition in Hamburg (2019), German SWR Ensemble Competition, 3rd International Piano Competition Music of the World (Israel), and the International Hamburger Instrumental Competition. The duo holds the honour of being the only children to give a solo concert during the renowned Schleswig Holstein Music Festival in Germany. In 2018 they participated in a television show in Shanghai with Chinese music stars as mentors.
SOPHIE ELIZABETH WAGNER
Young German pianist Sophie Elizabeth Wagner has already performed in many countries and has been awarded many first prizes, including the following in her age categories: In 2019: 83rd Steinway Piano Competition in Hamburg for both piano solo and duet. In 2020: 12th International Youth Piano Competition in Essen; International Music Festival Paris; 10th International Piano Competition in Milan; and 3rd International Piano Competition in Israel. In 2021: 28th Hamburg International Instrumental Competition for both solo and duet; 9th Cesar Franck International Piano Competition in Belgium and winner of the Grand Prix - BNP Paribas Fortis Laureate. Also in 2021, Sophie and her brother Alexander performed a concert during the renowned Schleswig Holstein Music Festival in Germany.
Canadian pianist Khloe Wu is six years old and the youngest Semi-Finalist in Classicalia’s 2021 competition. Her parents named her Khloe so she would grow up to be a Kind, Healthy, Loving, Optimistic and an Excellent person. Her musicality was noticed at 20 months old when she was able to sing the entire Canadian national anthem. She started piano lessons at four years old, and loves to play for an audience. Khloe loves drawing, Disney princesses, and travel, having already visited many states in the U.S., mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Semi-Finalists of Category 2: 12-17 years old
New York violinist Rebecca Beato began her violin studies at age four and currently studies with Viktor Basis. In 2022, she was chosen as a semi-finalist and Achievement Award winner at the 25th annual Sphinx Competition Junior Division. Rebecca has been awarded at the Rudolf Barshai International Strings Competition (2021), Camerata Artist International Concerto Competition (2021), Lyra Music Competition (2021), VIVO International Music Competition (2018, 2019 and 2020), New York Solo Competition (2019) and Cremona International Music Competition (2016). She gave her first solo performance with the Cremona International Music Academy orchestra at the age of 10 in Italy. Rebecca co-authored and was lead co-illustrator of the children’s book “Who is Florence Price?”, featured on NPR and the Good Morning America. She was granted The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Award in 2019 and has appeared on NPR’s “From The Top” show in 2020.
GISELA DEKORT MESALLES
Spanish saxophonist Gisela Dekort Mesalles was awarded a scholarship from Fundació de Música Ferrer-Salat in 2020 at age 16 to begin her Bachelor of Music studies two years early at the Fundació Conservatori Liceu under Albert Julià. She has performed as a soloist with Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León and has won many international awards. In 2019, as member of Mezzo Quartet, she won first prize at Pugem a l'escenari of Joventuts musicals de Sant Cugat del Vallès, and first prize in the Sant Anastasi competition in Lleida. In 2020 she was a semi-finalist of the Superior Category at the Intercentros Melómano competition, and she won second prize in at the XVI Encontro Galego do Saxofón; and the Special Saxophone Prize in the Conservatori de Terrassa. In 2021, she became a finalist in the Spanish talent TV show Prodigios (RTVE-1) and won many first prizes in various online competitions.
Sophia started learning violin at age five and is currently in the studio of Kelly Parkins-Lindstrom at the Phil and Eli Taylor Academy for Young Artists at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada. In 2015, she won Fourth Prize at the Hong Kong International Violin Competition as well as first place at the Guangdong Province Strings Provincial Competition in 2016. In 2017, Sophia performed alongside the Vienna Boys Choir during their tour in China. Her past teachers include Kaiyi Ma, Rui Xu and late Victor Danchenko. Outside of music, Sophia enjoys reading, swimming and mathematics.
American flutist Nikka Gershman-Pepper attends the Pre-Conservatory Program at the Colburn Music Academy in Los Angeles. She is the youngest ever Haynes Young Artist, representing her flute-maker. In 2019 she was a soloist in an LA Youth Philharmonic’s performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and has been the first-prize winner of numerous competitions, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Young Artists’ Concerto Competition, Rising Stars Grand Prix (Berlin), Flutes by the Sea International Competition, Chicago Flute Club (Senior Division), and the Los Angeles division of Music International Grand Prix. Her solo concerts include performances in Germany as well as throughout LA and in New York. She was heard as a guest performer on NPR’s From the Top program in 2022, and received a Sir James Galway Merit Scholarship Award to attend the Galway Flute Festival 2022.
OLIVIA & MATTEO GIRALDI
As a sister/brother violin duo, Olivia and Matteo are ambitious, dedicated young musicians. From Ontario, Canada, they are French immersion students and have both been studying violin from a young age. Olivia was recently voted “most likely to be remembered for her kindness” by her peers, and is keen to pursue a career helping others. Matteo is both gregarious and sensitive, and although he’s not sure what he wants to do when he grows up, he thinks he might be a good lawyer! The pair has won numerous awards for their musical endeavours, both as a duet and as soloists. including the Toronto Kiwanis Festival and also the North York Music Festival in 2021 (first prize for Olivia, and second for Matteo; and first prize for their duet at both festivals), and the OMFA Provincial Finals (first prize and “Best in Class” for Matteo, and second for Olivia; and first prize for their duet).
Canadian flutist Karim Khakimov hails from a musical family; his mother is a pianist and his sister Salma plays the violin. He is a multi-award winner at the North York, Unionville and other music festivals, as well as the OMFA Provincials Gold Medal for level 7 flute. He is the recipient of two RCM gold medals, including the National Gold Medal for flute performance Level 8, and of the Dianne and Robert Aitken Scholarship for Promising Flutists at the Contemporary Showcase in 2020. Karim studies with Susan Hoeppner at the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists. He loves to play solo and chamber music, and when not playing music, he is interested in digital art, video editing and technology. In 2020, Karim, his family and friends organized four live-streamed classical music concerts, raising more than $1,000 for a children’s charity.
US-based pianist Allison Kim grew up in Virginia. She later moved to South Korea, where she made her concerto debut at the age of 10 playing Mozart with the Prime Philharmonic Orchestra, and had her solo recital debut at age 11 playing for the Kumho Prodigy Series at a packed Kumho Yonsei Art Hall. Since then, she has performed recitals at the Auer Hall at Indiana University for the Edward Auer Piano Workshop Young Artist Showcase (2018), in Halle, Germany for the Euro Music Festival (2019), a solo recital at the Lotte Concert Hall (2021), a Prokofiev concerto at the Seongnam Arts Center (2021), a joint recital at the Mozart Hall (2021), and at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, DC for the Asian American Music Society’s Prelude to Lunar New Year Young Musician Concert (2022). First prizes include the 2020 Korea Steinway Competition and the 2019 Korea Chopin Competition.
American violinist Ruth Kim started violin at age three, and currently studies under Desiree Ruhstrat. She made her solo debut with the Midwest Young Artists Orchestra when she was twelve and has been awarded numerous times at DePaul University, Sejong Music Competition, Walgreens National Concerto Competition, Confucius Music Festival, Society of American Musicians, and Stanger Young Artists Audition. Ruth’s chamber ensemble, The Ardente String Quartet won Second Prize in The Enkor International Competition, earned the audience prize at the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, and an honorable mention at the Midwest National Chamber Music Competition. She has been the concertmaster of Midwest Young Artists Orchestra since she was eleven and this year received a Merit Scholarship for her involvement. Besides competing, Ruth relishes in giving back to her community by volunteering at local youth programs to teach younger children and performing for her church community.
ANDREW SIJIE LI
An active young performer, Andrew has given solo recitals in Metz, France, and the Renming University Concert Hall in Beijing, China, after making his solo debut at the age of eight at the Castello Scaligero in Verona, Italy. He has recently become the youngest student to be offered a full scholarship to the Frost Chopin Academy, and has received scholarships from the Miami Music Festival and the Joseph Gingold Chamber Music Festival. Andrew’s piano competition wins include the Special Prize of Best Canadian Young Artist at the Canadian International Piano Competition, and first prizes in both the Concerto Competition at the Miami Classical Music Festival, and the Hong Kong Youth Piano Competition's Beethoven group. Aside from playing the piano, Andrew is interested in world history. He also enjoys reading, movies, swimming, and hiking.
Thai pianist Pinn Mahasaranond studies music at the Piano Academy of Bangkok under Pornphan Banternghansa and Christopher Janwong Mckiggan. Solo performances have included the Budding Artist Concert by Pro Musica, and Sicily International Piano Festival & Competition. Pinn has won Platinum & Best Virtuoso Award from the 3rd WPTA Singapore International Piano Competition, Absolute Prize from 2021 Indonesia International Youth Piano Competition, First Prize from Bremen International Piano Competition Summer 2021, Fifth Prize from the 2021 CONERO International Music Festival & Competition, First Prize in her age group at the 8th GOCAA 2021, and more. She has workshopped her skills at masterclasses with Adam Gyorgy, Jenna Sherry, Prach Bundeesakunchoke, Daniel Horn, Steven Spooner, Jay Hershberger, and Christopher Harding.
Canadian cellist Sophia Ner started playing cello when she was nine years old in her elementary school’s strings program where she could choose between playing the violin or cello. The sound of the cello has always captivated Sophia, and she was drawn to study it. She has completed her Grade 10 exam with the Royal Conservatory of Music, and Grade 8 music theory. She studies with Janelle Ragno in British Columbia. Outside of cello, Sophia enjoys playing baseball with her local league and badminton. She works hard to balance sports, music, and schoolwork.
Australian violinist Cedar-Rose Newman studies with Lucie Robert at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College, where she was a scholarship student from 2017–2021. She was inspired to learn violin after hearing works of Vivaldi and Bach played on her great grandmother’s violin; she now enjoys the opportunity to perform on this instrument. Cedar has performed recitals as soloist with orchestra, in chamber music, and orchestral concerts in Australia, North America, and Europe, and enjoys the many friendships she has made across the world while pursuing music. She will start a Bachelor of Performance in 2022 in violin. She also plays piano, having received her piano performance Licentiate Diploma in 2020. Outside of music, Cedar enjoys the outdoors (rock-climbing, bouldering, running, surfing, and skiing), cooking, and caring for the family dog, Benjamin.
ALBINA ANTONIETTA NICEFORO
Australian soprano Albina Antonietta Niceforo has performed on stage since age three, and has represented Australia in music competitions and recitals throughout the world. Her most recent accomplishments include First Prize in Nouvelles Étoiles (France, 2022), and being a finalist in the Angel Voice Winners' League (Serbia). Albina has been awarded first prize in: Forte International Music Competition, American Protégé, Crescendo International Music Competition, 21st Century Talents Music Competition, Red Maple International Music Competition, and Imka Classical Music and Dance Competition. Her love of singing has taken her to Carnegie Hall in New York and to the townships of Sanremo, Italy where she was given the opportunity to represent Australia in the 10th Edition of the Sanremo Junior World Finals receiving 3rd Classified in the competition. Albina was also invited to the 2020 Florence International Music and Arts Festival where she performed in a recital held at Santo Stefano in Florence.
Since his solo orchestral debut at the age of 11 with the Canadian Sinfonietta, violinist Evan Pyne has performed concerti with the North York Concert Orchestra and Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. He placed third at the International Ilona Fehér Violin Competition in Budapest (2019), and won First Prize in the Canadian Music Competition (2018). At the 8th International Noche en Madrid Competition, he placed second in his age group in the solo category and first in the chamber category. In 2021, Evan placed fourth at the Rudolph Barshai International Strings competition and was a finalist at the 13th International Grumiaux Competition. Evan has been awarded at the Kiwanis and North York music festivals and Unionville Music Academy Competitions. He received one of 10 awards of excellence from the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2021. He studies with Marie Bérard and currently plays on an award-winning violin made by Maurizio Tadioli.
Canadian violinist Eden Silverberg began her violin studies at the age of three. She studies at the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists and recently received her ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has competed at the Canadian Music Competitions and received two first place awards at the National Finals in Quebec City and Vancouver. She was chosen in 2019 to play at Koerner Hall as a soloist at the ARCT Convocation. Eden has been fortunate to perform as a soloist with the Cathedral Bluffs Orchestra and the Canadian Sinfonietta. She was a winner of a concerto competition for the Toronto Summer Music Festival and played the Bach Double Concerto in D minor with Jonathan Crow, the concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She now studies privately with Jonathan Crow and Barry Shiffman. In her spare time Eden loves to play tennis and volleyball.
Russian-Israeli pianist Artemy Sokolovsky is a student of the Moscow Gnessin Special School of Music studying with Elena Berezkina. He wrote his first melody at four years old, and by seven had performed in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. In addition to winning numerous awards for his work on the piano, Artemy has performed throughout Moscow (Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory halls, Zaryadye Hall, Moscow Philharmonic, Pashkov House); in cathedrals and halls in Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, Ireland, Ukraine, and Israel; and at Embassy receptions at the residences of the Ambassadors to Germany, Norway, and Hungary. Artemy has performed with the Russian National Orchestra, Pavel Slobodkin Centre Orchestra, and Dubna Symphony Orchestra, and in 2021, was invited to perform at the Piano Duo Festival in Amsterdam. He has participated in masterclasses with Dmitry Bashkirov, Grigory Gruzman, Einar Steen-Nokleberg, Victor Ryabchikov, Antonio di Cristofano, Yulianna Avdeeva, Eduard Kunz, and others.
Canadian pianist Jerry Tian studies with Olga Chichova and has received multiple first prizes at regional competitions including the Peel, Burlington, North York, and Kiwanis Music Festivals. Provincially, he has placed annually at the Ontario Music Festival Association competition (first in 2017, second in 2018, and first in 2020). Jerry attended the Canadian National Music Competition in 2018 and was awarded third place in the under-13 category. In 2019, he won second place at the American Protege International Romantic Music Competition. In addition, Jerry won first place at the 2021 GOCAA International Piano Competition. He was selected in the 2020 Chopin Jeune Competition in Switzerland, and has attended masterclasses with Boris Petrushansky, Sofya Gulyak, Brett Kingsbury, Mia Bach and Nina Schipani. Jerry loves to share music with others and is actively involved in volunteer work, playing piano at hospitals and retirement homes.
Canadian violinist Nicholas Vasilakopoulos-Kostopoulos began his music education at age eight in Montreal and within several years, became concertmaster of the Institut Suzuki Montreal string orchestra. In 2021 he was awarded gold medal in the Vancouver International Music Competition and was a finalist in the OMNI Competition. Nicholas was the second prize winner at the 2019 Canadian Music Competition and won a scholarship for the highest mark in Quebec. Extremely passionate about classical music and very creative, Nicholas enjoys performing to bring joy to people. He is a full scholarship student at the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists studying with Jonathan Crow and generously supported by M. Oundjian. He is also studying with Jan Mark Sloman, and has worked with James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, Jennifer Frautschi, Vadim Gluzman, Jinjoo Cho, Elaine Klimasko and Rebecca Whitling. Since November 2021, Nicholas has been playing on a Nicolas Lupot violin generously loaned by Roger Dubois, Canimex Inc.
Canadian violinist Philip Wang started playing the violin when he was six years old, and is currently attending The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Outside of the violin, Philip enjoys playing basketball and tennis. He has won many awards from music festivals, including Kiwanis and he was one of the award winners of the Play Along with Jonathan Crow from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra competition in 2021.
Cellist Ella Xu began playing the piano at age four and the cello at age five. She is currently a fourth-year scholarship cello student at The Taylor Academy at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Ella is a multi-award winner from a wide variety of competitions in both piano and cello, including The Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, Arts Richmond Hill, Markham Music Festival, and North York Music Festival. In 2016, she won Second Prize in The American Fine Arts Festival Romantic Competition for piano and Second Prize in The American Protégé Piano and String Competition for cello, and performed in Carnegie Hall. Other awards include Third Prize for Piano at the Canadian Music Competition (under 8 category), First Prize at the Steinway Piano Competition (age 9), and Third Prize in the Chopin International Competition in Hartford. Ella enjoys playing chamber and orchestral music.
Semi-Finalists of Category 3: 18-25 years old
SOLÈNE LE VAN
In 2020, Scotland-based accordionist Sofia Ros won First Prize at one of the most prestigious International Accordion Competitions “Trophee Mondiale de l’accordeon”. She has also been awarded at the Klingenthal (Germany) and Castelfidardo (Italy) competitions. As soloist with orchestra, she has performed in various occasions at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh including works by Astor Piazzolla and Richard Galliano. In February 2022, she will perform Piazzolla’s Aconcagua Concerto with the Irving Symphony Orchestra in Dallas, Texas. In September 2021 she made her debut at Vienna’s Musikverein as part of the prize for Vienna International Music Competition. Sofia is supported by the Craxton Memorial Trust Award (UK), Drake Calleja Trust, and Talent Unlimited. She is an EU undergraduate ABRSM scholar at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she is currently studying with the Serbian accordionist Djordje Gajic.