Musical America

Anna Han Wins First Prize at Sixth New York International Piano Competition
By Hemsing Associates
Public Relations for the Arts
June 26, 2012

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation has announced sixteen-year-old Anna Han of Chandler, Arizona as the First Prize Winner of the Sixth New York International Piano Competition. Ms. Han has studied with Mr. Fei Xu at New Century Conservatory since she was five years old. She has won a number of national and international piano competitions, including the first prize at the 2011 New Orleans International Piano Competition for Young Artists, the first prize for the 2011 and 2008 IIYM (International Institute for Young Musicians) International Piano Competitions, second prize at the 2008 Missouri Southern International Piano Competition Junior Division, the bronze medal at the 2008 Gina Bachauer International Junior Piano Competition, fifth place at the 2010 Cooper International Piano Competition, and she was the national first place winner of the 2007 Music Teachers National Association Junior Piano Competition.

Anna Han made her orchestral debut with the Chandler Symphony Orchestra in 2007 at age eleven, performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. In 2009, she performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and in 2010 she performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.3, again with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. That same year, she was the featured soloist in two concerts with the Verde Valley Sinfonietta where she performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Ms. Han has performed in such venues as the Phoenix Symphony Hall, Mesa Center for the Arts, Chandler Center for the Arts, and the Lied Center of Kansas. She has also appeared in a piano concert in New London, Connecticut in 2009, and performed at the 2007 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago. Anna is currently a student at K12 International Academy. In her spare time she likes reading, photography, sports, talking to friends, and listening to all genres of music. She also enjoys playing chamber music. Ms. Han has been featured on the National Public Radio show From the Top.

The Second Prize at the Sixth New York International Piano Competition was awarded to Chelsea Wang, 17, West Des Moines, Iowa; Third Prize to Anna Dmytrenko, 19, London, UK; and Fourth Prize to Sahun Hong, 17, Fort Worth, TX. The winners of the First Prize in One Piano Four Hands category are Katharina Gross, 21, Rockstock, Germany and Sahun Hong, 17, Fort Worth, TX; the Second-Prize winners in the same category are Hugo Kitano, 17, San Francisco, CA and Yilan Zhao, 17, Rego Park, NY. The award for Best Performance of the Commissioned Work (Avner Dorman’s “Three Etudes”) went to Mackenzie Alan Melemed, 17, Paxton, MA.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation’s Sixth New York International Piano Competition, held at The Manhattan School of Music from June 18th – June 22nd, 2012, hosted twenty-two pianists, ages 16-21, from across the globe. The week-long event included four rounds plus a series of master classes and seminars. In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim remarked that “what sets it apart from other piano competitions are some unusual rules designed to guarantee that it makes a real difference in the career of a young musician, rather than merely passing judgment on it.” (June 14, 2012). Unique to the New York International Piano Competition is its policy of no elimination; each contestant performed in all four rounds and was judged by a jury of some of the most distinguished members of the music community. Every participant returns home either as a prize winner or finalist award recipient.

The level of competition has been uniformly high over the event’s 10 year history; former winners have gone on to win the Gilmore Young Artist Award, The Juilliard School’s William Petschek Recital Award, the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts at Harvard University, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, and some to become National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Presidential Scholars.

Monetary awards total $40,000, but just as important as the monetary awards are the opportunities for concert and recital appearances that are awarded to winners and finalists. Held every two years, the New York International Piano Competition is dedicated to providing artistic development, educational enhancement, seminars, master classes, and performance opportunities. This year’s jurors included Ian Hobson, Tong-Il Han, Susan Starr, Alan Walker, Jane Coop, and Erik Tawaststjerna.

The internationally lauded Israeli composer Avner Dorman was commissioned by the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation to compose a “required” piece for this year’s competition. Mr. Dorman’s “Three Etudes” was learned and performed by all contestants. Longtime New York Times critic Allan Kozinn wrote a feature story on Mr. Dorman in 2011 in which he noted that Mr. Dorman’s “music works its magic by melding far-flung influences and making them sound natural together. Depending on the score, an inviting neo-Romantic fabric may bear touches of modernist acerbity; vigorous, complex rhythms; themes built on Middle Eastern and Indian modes; Baroque figuration; or the accents of pop and jazz.”

Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz, Executive Directors of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, have devoted a lifetime to the musical education of young people. Internationally recognized as one of the most distinguished duo-piano teams of their generation, Stecher and Horowitz are equally renowned for their multi-faceted activities as performers, teachers, composers and educational consultants – activities that have earned them a unique position in the world of music. Having been co-directors of the Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts for 39 years, (1960-1999) it was apparent to both principals that the most important years for developing interested young musicians were the pre-teen years and into the early twenties, a good decade of concentrated and formative development. The New York Piano Competition was originally founded on this premise.

The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, a non-profit organization, is an outgrowth of the renowned Stecher and Horowitz School of the Arts which was founded in 1960 in Cedarhurst, New York. Until 1999 the school was Nassau County’s leading conservatory of music, attended by some 15,000 students during its thirty-nine year history. The Foundation is now dedicated to an expanded concept that seeks to inspire and support outstanding young musicians worldwide.

In 2009, the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation announced two major changes in its biennial New York Piano Competition. For the first time the Competition accepted contestant applications from outside the United States effective for the summer of 2010, a change in the procedures of accepting applications only from students (American or foreign) who were pursuing studies in the United States. With this development the 2010 Competition was known as the New York International Piano Competition. In addition, it expanded its age category upwards from 14-18 years to 16-21 years – this affords contestants in the late teens the opportunity to interact musically with promising young adults, serving as a challenging incentive toward greater achievement. The original concept of allowing all contestants to complete their participation without elimination remained the same, fostering the fullest musical interaction between contestants throughout the entire span of the competition. The New York International Piano Competition remains true to its predecessor’s philosophy that the primary goal of a musical competition is to further the musical development of its contestants.