Our first annual Steinway Piano Competition resulted in 27 dedicated and talented young pianists. On April 28, 2018, all contestants came prepared to play and share their music, and all of them should consider themselves winners. The hard work and commitment put forth by the teachers and parents to prepare the students for this competition was also immediately apparent with every performance. On May 4, 2018, we celebrated the achievements of these young artists with a Winners’ Recital and Awards Ceremony.
Medalists and Honorable Mentions
Division I (ages 9 and under)
Sofia Zhu, Division I, First Place
Sofia Zhu is 9 years old and in 4th grade at University High at LSU. She has been studying piano for 5 years. During that time, Sofia has won many local, state, and national awards, including 1st place at LMTA Piano Rally, DeBose National Piano Competition, LFMC in Solo, Duet, and Concerto divisions. In her free time, she enjoys drawing and reading. Sofia is the student of Robin and Raymond Yee.
Sofia would like to thanks Steinway & Sons and Hall Piano Company for the opportunity they have provided. She is very excited to share her music.
Valerie Zhou, Division I, Second Place
(biography coming soon!)
Jennifer Qiu, Division I, Third Place
Jennifer Qiu is eight years old and is going into fourth grade. She has played piano with Mrs. Donna Clavijo for three years. Jennifer likes playing the piano because it makes her feel relaxed and it is very fun. Every time she has started a new song, it felt very hard, but Mrs. Donna told Jennifer to work it out measure by measure. Jennifer found that it was a good way to practice. Jennifer enjoys playing the piano!
Division II (ages 10-13)
William Wei, Division II, First Place
William Wei is 12 years old and in 6th grade at Glasgow Middle School. He has been studying piano with Robin and Raymond Yee for the past seven years. Showing great potential from a very young age, he performed his first solo recital when he was in 1st grade. Throughout his piano study, he has won numerous awards and competitions at the district, state, and national level. Some of these include first place at DeBose National Piano Competition, LMTA District and State Rally, and LFMC in Solo, Duet, and Concerto divisions.
In addition to his many achievements in piano, William is also very accomplished in martial arts and had won the grand championship in several Kungfu Tournaments. He also participates in his school’s science and social study fairs, and represented Glasgow in the regional level. He was elected school president in his last year in elementary and was the Student of the Year. In his free time, William enjoys reading, tennis, and computer.
William is grateful for the performance opportunity Steinway and Hall Company has provided, and is excited to share beautiful music with the audience.
Paul Kreamer, Division II, Second Place
An All A’s Honor Roll seventh grade student at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral school in Houma, LA, Paul Kreamer is an eleven (11) year old who excels at school as well as piano. Paul started playing piano at the young age of 4 years old and has won a few awards at both district and state level in the past few years. Under the guidance of his piano teacher, Dr. Luciana Soares, Paul has won First place in Piano Solo at The First & Second & Third Annual State Junior Convention of The Louisiana Federation of Music Clubs. Paul also was the First place winner at the district piano rally since 2013. He took home First place winner’s trophy at the “Torgrimson/Swanzy Piano Competition for Outstanding Students” of the Louisiana Music Teachers Association (LMTA) for the past two years (2016+2017). He also competed at the “LPO 27th Annual Young Artists’ Concerto Competition” in 2017. And Paul has performed piano solo at a few local events, such as The Kids’ Day Festival, etc. Paul likes to play video games and spend time with family and friends in his spare time. He hopes that one day he will be able to perform piano solo at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York city, just like his idol Lang Lang!
Alex Wei, Division II, Third Place
Alex Wei is 13 years old and in 7th grade at Glasgow Middle School. He has been studying piano with Robin and Raymond Yee for the past seven years. Showing great potential from a very young age, he performed his first solo recital when he was in 2nd grade. Throughout his piano study, he has won numerous awards and competitions at the district, state, and national level. Some of these include first place at DeBose National Piano Competition, LMTA District and State Rally, and LFMC in Solo, Duet, and Concerto divisions. He was also a prize winner in the MTNA Junior Piano Competition for the past two years.
In addition to his many achievements in piano, Alex is also very accomplished in martial arts and has won the grand championship in several Kungfu Tournaments. He also participates in his school’s science and social study fairs, and represented Glasgow in the regional level. In his free time, Alex enjoys reading, tennis, and soccer.
Haley Daniel, Division II, Honorable Mention
Haley Daniel is an 8th grade home-school student from Mandeville, Louisiana. She is enrolled in the preparatory Classical-Instrumental program of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where she studies piano with Dr. Hristo Birbochukov. Haley started playing piano at age 7 and has been an active participant in summer piano programs, masterclasses, and competitions. Recently, she has been recognized at the DeBose National Piano Competition and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition. In addition to playing piano, Haley likes taking part in musical theater productions in Mandeville.
Daniel Lee, Division II, Honorable Mention
(biography coming soon!)
Helen Wang, Division II, Honorable Mention
(biography coming soon!)
Hannah Wen, Division II, Honorable Mention
Hannah Wen is a fourth grader in Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies. She has been learning piano with Dr. Donna Clavijo for five years and she enjoys playing piano in everyday life. She is curious about many things and like reading. Besides, she also like all types of arts (drawing, painting, pottery, theater, etc.) and various sport, such as swimming, running, tennis, and dancing.
Division III (ages 14-18)
Ben Mader, Division III, First Place
Ben Mader has played piano since the age of 4 and studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Ben was the winner of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Young Artists’ Concerto Competition in 2014 and 2016. Ben won the MTNA Competition for the State of Louisiana at the Junior Level and has received honors at the DeBose National Piano Competition, the Gulfcoast Steinway Society Piano Competition, the PiaNola Festival, the New Orleans Junior Philharmonic competition, and the LSU Bach Contest. Ben studies with Dr. Hristo Birbochukov, Artist-Teacher of Piano at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
James, Zhu, Division III, Second Place
James Zhu is 16 years old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. James made his orchestral debut with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) in February 2016 as the winner of the Young Artists’ Concerto Competition in New Orleans. James’ recent accomplishments include the top prize of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society 2018 Solo and Concerto Competition; 1st place winner in the Debose National Piano Competition for the past two years; winner of Louisiana State Senior and Junior piano competition for the past three years; he won the 2nd place in the 2015 – 2016 MTNA South Central Division Junior Piano Competition. James was the 1st place winner in the Florida State Piano Concerto Competition Junior Division in 2014. In the same year, James won the Gold Medal in the International Young Musicians Festival and a scholarship to participate in the Vianden Music Festival in Luxembourg. Additionally, James was selected to perform in the Young Pianist Concerts by the Chopin Foundation in 2013 and 2014. Currently, he studies piano with Prof. Gregory Sioles.
Jonathan Cole, Division III, Third Place
Jonathan Cole has played piano since the age of 12 and is currently an eleventh grade student at Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Jonathan has received 1st prize for four consecutive years at the DeBose National Piano Competition. He was the winner of the 2017 Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition and as a winner performed with the orchestra Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major in 2018. Jonathan studies piano with Dr. Hristo Birbochukov, Artist-Teacher of Piano at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
Mattie Griswold, Division III, Honorable Mention
Mattie Griswold is a freshman, enrolled as a full-day student at the New Orleans Center for Creative (NOCCA). He started playing piano at the age of five, and is currently studying piano under Dr. Hristo Birbochukov at NOCCA. Competition awards include 2018 DeBose National Piano Competition (1st place), 2016 LMTA Rally (2nd place), among others. Mattie is particularly drawn to the Romantic composers, especially Chopin and Liszt. In addition to playing classical music, he enjoys playing jazz and has participated in both classical and jazz events such as the French Quarter Festival, New Orleans Jazz Market, and the Turnipseed Jazz Concert in Baton Rouge. In addition, Mattie has served as a pianist for various area churches, and was the accompanist for the men’s and women’s choirs at First Christian Church Baton Rouge.
Lauren Stevens, Division III, Honorable Mention
(biography coming soon!)
Derek Witzig, Division III, Honorable Mention
Derek Witzig is a freshman at Benjamin Franklin High School and an afternoon Classical-Instrumental student at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). He started playing piano when he was six years old. Presently, Derek is studying piano under Dr. Hristo Birbochukov at NOCCA. He has received awards from DeBose National Piano Competition, and LMTA district and state rallies. Aside from playing piano, Derek enjoys mathematics, listening to various classical composers and performers, playing strategic board games, and walking his dog.
Winners’ Recital and Awards Ceremony
Congratulations to all of our contestants!