Competitors and Jurors
The Capriccio Competitors
Jeffrey Zhang, 17 years old pianist. His interest in music began at the age of five, and at the age ten he was accepted to The Juilliard School Pre-College Division, studying with Doctor Veda Kaplinsky. He had his first concerto debut at age twelve, performing with the Fort Worth Symphony conducted by John Giordano in 2014. Jeffrey has won many international piano competitions, including first prize at the American Protégés international competitions in 2012, The Juilliard School Pre-College piano concerto competition 2014, New York Competition for Young Artist(NYAA) in 2016, Billy Joel Fantastic and Delusions Competition in 2017, Steinway Competition 2018, and was prize winner at the Burgos Music festival in Spain in 2015, and attended the Aspen Music Festival from years 2015-2017.has performed in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall , Merkin Concert Hall, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Paul Hall, Sunset Concert Hall on the Hudson, and more. He was a recurring soloist in Harris Hall as part of Aspen Music Festival and school overtures Pre-concert chamber music Chopin Nocturne series. A a recurring artist for the Sunset Concerts on the Hudson 2015-2018. He created benefit concerts for the Great Neck Social Center and for Faith Bible Church. He continues to study in Juilliard and in Great Neck North High School
Zifeng (Michael) Zheng was born and raised as a musician by his family of professional educators. He began learning the piano at the age of 5. By the age of 8, he started to give public performances at the City Conference Hall of his hometown. In the years of 2013 and 2014, Mr. Zheng hosted two recitals at the Benzaquen Hall, DiMenna Center. These recitals led him to be the recipient of the Hackett Music Performing Art Medal of New York City by the year of 2015. At present, Mr. Zheng often appears as a concert pianist and chamber musician, but also orchestra soloist, and opera and choir accompanist. In 2016, Mr. Zheng was honored for the De Los Mederos Special Award in Music Performance. Also, he was recognized for two terms for the Annual Outstanding Performance Award from the Conservatoire in the years of 2017 and 2019 respectively. Most recently, Mr. Zheng had won the Douglas Humphreys Piano Competition, and he had been awarded the opportunity to be a performance member of the Masterclass hosted by Professor Humphreys, the chair faculty of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. In addition, Mr. Zheng finish his Bachelor of Music Performance at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, and he will continue his Masters of Music Performance in fall 2019.
Sean Koehler Obach
Sean Koehler Obach is currently seeking his M.S. in Information Technology at The College of St. Rose and is a graduate assistant to the Music Department working with the Wind Ensemble under the supervision of Dr. Robert Hansbrough. In 2017 he received his Music B.A. with minors in Chemistry and Computer Science from The College of St. Rose studying piano under Dr. Young Kim. Sean started playing piano at the age of ten and expanded his passion for music by adding string and melodic percussion instruments to his musical world.
Sean’s true passion is playing piano, but he also enjoys playing the viola and melodic percussion instruments along with writing and arranging compositions.
Anirudh Ramanathan is a Junior in Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills PA, and has been learning piano from the age of 6. At very young age, he would fiddle on small size keyboard, trying to play rhymes on his own and would be thrilled when he becomes successful in playing them. To further his interest, he learned the basics of Piano from Nancy Chalnowski in various Science competitions. He is also an active member of the high school Vex Robotics Team.
Anirudh has interest in working with Electronics, Micro-controllers, Computer Programs and Designing Software, and desires to major in Computer Science for Robotics, while he continues to be connected with music and contribute to the music world with his own compositions.
Sienna Marie Tabron
Sienna Marie Tabron is a classical pianist with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her thirteen years of study has been spent with Ms. Pamela Carroll, Dr. Cleveland Page, and Dr. Mikhail Volchok. She has also received instruction from Svetlana Smolina, Song Nam, and Dr. José Mendez. Sienna has played at Carnegie Hall four times,.. Sienna hopes to continue competing now that she has completed her undergraduate career.
For the past three years, Sienna has taught piano at College Park Academy Plus located in Riverdale Park Maryland. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Piano Performance at the Boston Conservatory at Berkley in Fall 2019.
Max Caplan, Masters of Music from the Hartt School with a B.A. in Music and Classics from Union College. Active performer in the Capital District area as a vocalist, pianist and composer. Composed for the Musicians of Ma’alwyck an opera celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State. Premiered June 2018.
Jonathan Indajang plans to continue his music education beyond high school and a senior at Shenendehowa High School. In 2018, Jonathan Indajang placed first in the NYS Heddy Killian Piano Competition and Nazareth College Piano Competition Senior Division plus performed for the Piano NYSSMA States Showcase at Rochester.
Sungu Kang is a native of Ulsan, South Korea. As a prize winner of numerous competitions in South Korea, he has performed in several solo recitals, collaborative concerts, and project concerts. , he decided to forgo big concert halls and has given numerous house concerts, classroom concerts, and outdoor performances. This 29 year old is currently studying for a master’s degree at The Juilliard School.
Sujin Kim is a native of South Korea, she received the college’s Boyer Award & Temple Music Grant Scholarships in 2018. Sujin was awarded the Olga Gagliardi Getto Award given by the Chair of Piano Department and Louis and Peter Vannett Scholarhip given by the Dean of Music School at Temple University.
Marina Lee’s piano studies started at age 5 under the tutelage of Ms. Victoria Mushkatkol at the Juilliard School. Marina made her concerto debut playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major Op. 15 with the Westchester University Symphony Orchestra in May 2015. At 18 years old, she will attend Juilliard this fall to continue her piano and composition studies. Her debut as a composer occurred in 2011at age 10 for a benefit concert for the Japan Tsunami Relief Program.
Kyra Lombard, Age 16 years old and in the 11th grade at Queensbury High School, she is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program candidate and studies with Dr. Young Kim. Kyra has performed at many venues throughout New York, including the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, the Hudson River Music Hall, the Tannery Pond Community Center, and the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose. As winner of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra Parillo concerto competition, she performed Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto in C minor with the Symphony in May of 2019.
The Capriccio Jurors
Sharon Biegel studied piano with Agustin Anievas at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York, earning both Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in piano performance. For three decades, she has maintained a consistent class of piano students and has judged piano competitions including the Friday-Woodmere Music Club and the Five Towns Music and Art Foundation Piano Competition for pianists on the college level and above. Ms. Biegel has also worked with children and young adults in the New York Public School system teaching strings and general music.
The fascinating career of Jeffrey Biegel takes its roots from the beginning. Until the age of three, Mr. Biegel could neither hear nor speak, until corrected by surgery. The ‘reverse Beethoven’ phenomenon explains his life in music, having heard only vibrations in his formative years. Mr. Biegel recently performed the World Premiere of Giovanni Allevi’s ‘Concerto for Piano and Orchestra’ with Orchestra Kentucky and in Milan’s Teatro dal Vermes, recording released in 2017. In 2018, Naxos releases Kenneth Fuchs’s “Concerto: Spiritualist” featuring Mr. Biegel with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, and, Grammy award composer, Dick Tunney unveils the new “Peanuts Concerto” for piano and orchestra based on music by Vince Guaraldi. In November 2018, Christopher Theofanidis’s “Concerto for Piano, Strings, Harp and Percussion” will receive its premiere with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Stuart Malina conducting.
Canadian pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald performs in concert halls around the world as a soloist, has recorded with seven record labels including Yarlung Records, and performs regularly in partnership with other musicians. Mr. Fitz-Gerald is also a regular visiting artist teacher at the Banff School of Fine Arts, a frequent guest master class teacher at The Colburn School for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and serves as visiting faculty at many other national and international music festivals and institutions throughout North America, South America, Asia and Australia. Kevin was born in Kelowna, British Columbia and received full scholarships to study at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, The Banff Centre School of Fine Arts and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto where his principal teachers were Marek Jablonski, Robin Wood and Alma Brock-Smith.
The Franchezza Competitors
Hua Cui is a 13-year-old pianist. She is currently a student at the Oneonta middle school, Oneonta, NY. Her piano lessons started at age of 5. She is currently studying with professor Young Kim at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. Hua’s most favorite composers are J.S.Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. Among the many pianists she admires, the following ones touch her heart the most : Glean Gould, Hofmann, Cziffra, Cortot and the Russian pianists who are full of “fire” such as Maria Yudina and Richter.
Alyssa Gabrilovich, age 13, began studying piano at the age of six. She made her concerto debut at the age 9 as a winner of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra concerto competition. Alyssa has won the 2017 and 2018 Pennsylvania State MTNA competitionShe received top prizes in the Paderewski International Piano competition, Steinway Piano Competition (2018, 2019), Chopin International Piano Competition, West Chester University Pre-Colligate Piano Competition (2015, 2017, 2019), Tri-County Youth Festival (2018), Cunningham Piano solo competition among others.
Jiatong Gao “Imy” is a 5th Grader at Tesago Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY and a piano student of Dr. Young Kim. She had a recital 12/15/2018, at Steinway Hall, NYC. Imy was 1st Winner in the 2016 Chopin 15th Annual Piano Competition Novice Group and Outstanding performance in the 2018 Chopin 17th Annual Piano in Colonie, NY. Invited Piano Performance in 15th Annual Polish Fest, Latham, Jun 3, 2017. In her “spare” time she is an artist and in 2018 womn2nd place in Saratoga Spring Horse Art Show and is in Music Theatre Club Performance.
Reagan George entered Instructor Hui Min Wang’s studio at the age of seven in 2014. Her progress on the piano is augmented by her parents’ commitment to encouraging excellent work at home. Reagan was a multiple winning Irish step dancing champion. Reagan’s most recent accomplishment includes winning the overall prizes at South Shore Conservatory’s 2019 Concerto Competition, resulting a performance of a Mozart concerto with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra this March. She has also won many first prizes at our SSC Concerto and Piano Competitions in the past years. Reagan was also awarded First Prizes in the Talented Young Musician Association 13th annual Russian Music Competition, and she has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Furthermore, she played at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City.
William Anming Hu
William Anming Hu is a ninth grader at Boston Latin School (BLS). Starting at age 5, William has been systematically studying piano. His repertoire spans from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and Clementi’s Gradus Ad Parnassus to Sonatas by Beethoven, Mozart, and Debussy as well as selected works by Chopin. In 2017, William won first place at the Unity Talent Piano Contest in Boston. He has been enjoying performances at prestigious venues such as Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston Symphony Hall. Since seventh grade, William has been designated to be his school’s collaborative pianist for annual winter and spring concerts. Also, as an avid singer, he has been unremittingly chosen for the Massachusetts Music Educators Association’s Junior and Senior District Festivals. In his spare time, William regularly practices with the BLS varsity rowing team and plays soccer.
Diya Jaisankar is a rising Sophomore from Hillsborough, New Jersey. She had been playing piano since Kindergarten and she is now trained under Dr.Kairy Koshoeva. Diya completed Level 9 Exam of Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto last month. She performs regularly in her School and in the Tri-state area and has performed at Carnegie Hall. She is also trained vocalist in Indian Classical music. In school, she is a part of Robotics and her Hillsborough tennis team.
Katherine E. Liu
Katherine E. Liu started her musical journey at the age of three with her mother Dr. Fumei Huang, a music educator. At 4, she performed publicly at Boston’s Steinway Hall. She has taken top honors in numerous piano competitions, including Grand Prix at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Connecticut, the Concord Youth Artist Concerto Competition, the American Protégé Competition, the Steinway Society Piano Competition, and the Bay State Piano Competition. Katherine made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2015 and has performed in the WCRB Classical Cartoon Festival at Boston Symphony Hall several times. She made her first appearance on NPR’s From the Top at Jordan Hall in 2016.
Xiaoyan (Lele) Liu
Xiaoyan (Lele) Liu, from Great Neck, NY, began to learn piano at the age of 3. When she was 4, she frequently appeared on various concerts and competitions. She was selected to showcase on a Leschetizky Association concert, and her first public ticket-selling performance was in a benefit concert in Flushing Townhall. Some of her recent wins of international piano competitions include 1st place in 2019 Crescendo International Competition, and 1st place and Judge Distinction Award in 2019 American Protégé International Piano & Strings Competition. She was also one of the youngest winners of 2019 Steinway Youth Competition. Recently, NBC’s America’s Got Talent selected her to cast in its competition show with celebrity judges, when she performed in front of a crowd of 3000 in Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Ivyann Shen, age thirteen, resides in Albany, New York. She studies with Michael Thomopoulos at the Palisades School of Music. She has won awards and prizes in many local and international competitions, including Gold Medal in the American Association for the Development of the Gifted and Talented competition “AADGT”, the “Mazurka Award” and Winner of the Capital District Council for Young Musicians Chopin Competition, perfect ratings from the New York State Music Association Festival, “Outstanding with Distinction” ratings from the New York State Music Teachers Association, and “Superior Plus” ratings from the National Piano Guild auditions. Ivyann has performed in Mako, Hungary, at the Eastern European International Conference and performed in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.
YaoYao (Kelly) Zhou
YaoYao (Kelly) Zhou is from Zhejiang Province, China and currently lives in New York City and studies with Dr. June Xiao. She is the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the 8th Metropolitan International Piano Competition in New York City. As winner of the Under 18 Division, 11 year-old YaoYao performed solo alongside members of Juilliard and Curtis faculties at Carnegie Hall. YaoYao was also the guest soloist at the 2018 Shanghai International Piano Festival Opening Concert, the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center and on Shanghai TV. This summer, she is looking forward to programs where she’ll be studying with the legendary Menahem Pressler and other notable teachers at the Musica Mundi Festival in Belgium, the Oxford Piano Festival at Oxford University and the Adamant School in Vermont.
The Franchezza Jurors
French Harpist Coline-Marie Orliac adds to her growing recording career releasing her first solo album “Harpistically Yours, Chopin” featuring her own arrangements of Chopin’s solo piano works and songs. A digital release together with Achilles Liarmakopoulos introducing trombone and harp duets has just come out. For her first CD appearance (Naxos) she performs her USA International Competition prize winning piece by Chiayu Hsu.
An active and sought-after soloist and chamber musician, Ms. Orliac performed at Festivals both in Europe and the US, including the Festival de Musique in St. Barthélemy, the Newport Music Festival, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the Festival d’Aix-en Provence, the Spivakov Festival in Moscow as well as the 10th World Harp Congress in Amsterdam. In 2011 Maxim Vengerov invited her to join the Sinfonia Varsovia at the Festival de Musique de Menton, where she performed Ravel’s Tzigane with him.
Pej Reitz, pianist, is a native of the Binghamton Area. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in piano performance with accompanying emphasis. She attended Boston University, New England Conservatory and Binghamton University. She has studied piano with Jean Casadesus, Victor Rosenbaum, Seymour Fink and Walter Ponce and accompanying with Allen Rogers. She has accompanied throughout the United States, in England, South America, Spain and at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She was a winner of the Artistic Ambassadors Program by the United States Information Agency in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts.