IMPACT Young Artists Competition is pleased to announce this year’s judging panel of six internationally renowned musicians.
Taiwanese-American pianist Helen Huang was discovered by conductor Kurt Masur upon winning the Young People’s Competition, which resulted in engagements with the New York Philharmonic and a recording contract with the Teldec record label.
Known for immaculate technique and her eloquent sensitivity, Helen Huang has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a soloist and chamber music player and has played with orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Abroad she has appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the London Philharmonic, and the Israel Philharmonic, among others. An avid chamber musician, Huang has appeared at the Marlboro Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, and at Ravinia’s Steans Institute For Young Artists.
Huang’s recordings on the Teldec label include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 488 and K.467, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur. She also recorded an album titled For Children, which consists of works inspired by the theme of children. She collaborated with violinist Cho-Liang Lin on an album of music by Georg Tintner released on the Naxos label as well as a recording of music by Zhou Long with Cho-Liang Lin and Hai-Ye Ni, released on the Delos label.
Born in Japan to Taiwanese parents, she moved to the U.S. with her family in 1985 and began piano lessons two years later. Within a year, she had won her first competition and several other victories soon followed. In 1994, she received Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award for promising young artists and in 1995 became one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Huang received the Arthur Rubinstein Prize upon graduating from Juilliard in 2004, where she was a student of Yoheved Kaplinsky. She went on to pursue her master’s degree from Yale, under the tutelage of Peter Frankl. Huang has been on the Juilliard Pre-College faculty since 2010, working as an assistant to Kaplinsky. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.
Michael Brown has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers.” His artistry is shaped by his creative voice as a pianist and composer, praised for his “fearless performances” (The New York Times) and “exceptionally beautiful” compositions (The Washington Post).
Winner of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Brown has recently performed as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids, North Carolina, New Haven, and Albany Symphonies; and recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and Caramoor.
Brown is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing frequently at Alice Tully Hall and on tour. He was selected by András Schiff to perform on an international tour making solo debuts in Berlin, Milan, Florence, Zurich’s Tonhalle, and New York’s 92nd Street Y. He regularly performs recitals with his longtime duo partner, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and has appeared at numerous festivals including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Gilmore, Ravinia, Saratoga, Bridgehampton, Bard, Sedona, Moab, and Tippet Rise.
As a composer, Brown’s Concerto for Piano and Strings will be premiered in 2020 at the Gilmore Festival and by the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra in Poland. Brown was the Composer and Artist-in-Residence at the New Haven Symphony for the 2017-19 seasons and a 2018 Copland House Residency Award recipient. He has received commissions from the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Concert Artists Guild, Shriver Hall; the New Haven and Maryland Symphony Orchestras; Osmo Vänskä; pianists Adam Golka, Roman Rabinovich, Orion Weiss, and David Kaplan; and a consortium of gardens.
He is a prolific recording artist whose upcoming releases in 2020 include Ravel’s Miroirs and Medtner’s Second Improvisation with newly discovered movements by Brown. His discography with orchestra features Brown as soloist with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, and with the Brandenburg State Symphony in Samuel Adler’s First Piano Concerto. Other albums include Mendelssohn and Beethoven on First Hand Records; an all-George Perle CD; and collaborative albums with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and violinist Elena Urioste. He has plans to embark on a multi-year project to record the complete piano music by Felix Mendelssohn.
Brown was the First Prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, a winner of the Bowers Residency from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (formerly CMS Two), a recipient of the Juilliard Petschek Award, and is a Steinway Artist. He earned dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. Additional mentors have included András Schiff and Richard Goode as well as his early teachers, Herbert Rothgarber and Adam Kent.
A native New Yorker, he lives there with his two 19th century Steinway D’s, Octavia and Daria.
One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, the pianist Orion Weiss has performed with the major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt and exceptionally crafted performances go far beyond his technical mastery and have won him worldwide acclaim.
His 2018-19 season sees him beginning that season with the Lucerne Festival and ending with the Minnesota Orchestra, with performances for the Denver Friends of Chamber Music, the University of Iowa, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Albany Symphony, the Kennedy Center’s Fortas Series, the 92nd Street Y, and the Broad Stage in between.
In 2017-18 Orion performed Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, toured with James Ehnes, and soloed with twelve orchestras around the United States. Other highlights of recent seasons include his third performance with the Chicago Symphony, a North American tour with the world-famous Salzburg Marionette Theater in a performance of Debussy’s La Boîte à Joujoux, the release of his recording of Christopher Rouse’s Seeing, and recordings of the complete Gershwin works for piano and orchestra with his longtime collaborators the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta.
Named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in September 2010, in the summer of 2011 Weiss made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as a last-minute replacement for Leon Fleisher. In recent seasons, he has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in duo summer concerts with the New York Philharmonic at both Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival. In 2005, he toured Israel with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Itzhak Perlman.
Also known for his affinity and enthusiasm for chamber music, Weiss performs regularly with the violinists Augustin Hadelich, William Hagen, Benjamin Beilman, James Ehnes, and Arnaud Sussman; the pianist Shai Wosner; and the cellist Julie Albers; and the Ariel, Parker, and Pacifica Quartets. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Weiss has appeared across the U.S. at venues and festivals including Lincoln Center, the Ravinia Festival, Sheldon Concert Hall, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Bard Music Festival, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Spivey Hall. He won the 2005 William Petschek Recital Award at Juilliard and made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall that April. Also in 2005 he made his European debut in a recital at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. He was a member of the Chamber Music Society Two program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 2002-2004, which included his appearance in the opening concert of the Society’s 2002-2003 season at Alice Tully Hall performing Ravel’s La Valse with Shai Wosner.
Weiss’s impressive list of awards includes the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School, and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. A native of Lyndhurst, OH, Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In February of 1999, Weiss made his Cleveland Orchestra debut performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. In March 1999, with less than 24 hours’ notice, Weiss stepped in to replace André Watts for a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was immediately invited to return to the Orchestra for a performance of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in October 1999. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax.
Hungarian pianist Peter Toth has concertized in most countries in Europe, including Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Germany, Russia, France, Holland, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. In addition, he performed in Japan, South Korea, Peru, Costa Rica, China, Australia, and the United States.
As a competitor, Dr. Toth has won top prizes at numerous piano competitions, such as the American Paderewski Piano Competition (2013), the Franz Liszt International Piano and Voice Competition in Los Angeles (2010), and the Franz Liszt International Piano Competitions in Budapest (2001) and Weimar (2000). His first released CD recording won the Grand Prize of the Hungarian Liszt Society (2006). He also won a special award for the best performance of a major romantic work by his outstanding interpretation of Brahms’s First Piano Sonata at the Southern Highland International Piano Competition in Australia (2011). In 2013, he retired from competing, dedicating himself entirely to the concert stage.
Dr. Toth is a regular guest artist at various piano festivals, such as the American Liszt Society Festival and the Festival Musique en Vallée du Tarn in France. In addition, he was invited to serve on the jury panel of the Franz Liszt International Piano and Voice Competition in Los Angeles (2014) and the Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition in Baltimore (2015). He has been a member of the American Liszt Society since 2011.
Dr. Toth has lived in the United States since 2009. In 2015, he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at the University of Texas at Austin. His scholarly activities have included the investigation of the progressive harmonic language of Franz Liszt’s piano music. His article, “Symmetrical Pitch Constructions in Liszt’s Piano Music”, was published in the Spring of 2016.
In spite of being a strong advocate of Franz Liszt’s music, Dr. Toth has a wide and diverse repertoire, ranging from J.S. Bach to contemporary music, with a particular focus on the piano music of the 19th century. He is an enthusiastic interpreter of the works of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms.
In 2017, Dr. Toth joined the music faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University (Madison, New Jersey). He was also a music faculty member at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, New Jersey) between 2016 and 2019. His students have garnered top prizes at piano competitions.
Taiwanese born violist and erhuist (Chinese violin), Wei-Yang Andy Lin, is recognized as one of the most promising and the only active performers who specialized in both western and eastern instruments. Praised by The Strad “The great Molto adagio… elicited some of the night’s most sensitive work, especially from Andy Lin on viola.” and New York Times “Taiwanese-born violist Andy Lin… is also a virtuoso on the erhu, and he gave a brilliant performance.” He is the artistic director and co-founder of the New Asia Chamber Music Society.
Andy Lin holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School and received his Doctor’s degree in Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. He has won numerous competitions including Taiwan National Viola Competition, the Idyllwild Concerto Competition, First Prize in the 2008 Juilliard Viola Concerto Competition, and subsequently made his Lincoln Center solo debut at the David Geffen Hall with the Juilliard Orchestra. He was also the winner of the 2009 SUNY Stony Brook Concerto Competition. He has also appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra, Orford Academy Orchestra, Incheon Philharmonic, and New York Classical Players.
Andy Lin is also an avid chamber musician and is a founding member of the award-winning string quartet, the Amphion String Quartet. The quartet was a winner of the 2011 Con-cert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition and was on the roster of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society CMS2 Program from 2013~2016. The quartet’s debut album with the Nimbus Records in England was selected by the New York Times as “The Best 25 Classical Music Recordings of 2015.” Mr. Lin is also a member of the Musicians of Lenox Hill and serves as principal violist of the New York Classical Players and the Solisti Ensemble. He has been invited to perform chamber music with Itzhak Perl-man where The New York Times described “Mr. Perlman, playing the first violin… answered in kind by the violist Wei-Yang Andy Lin.”
As a world-recognized professional erhu player, Lin has recently performed an erhu concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra at its Focus! Festival final concert at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in which it was featured in the New York Times. He has also performed the erhu solo part at the U.S. Premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Kommilitonen!” with the Juilliard Opera Production, as well as the world premiere of Jeeyoung Kim’s “Engraft” for solo erhu and string orchestra with Solisti Ensemble at Carnegie Hall. He also premiered Winnie Lan-In Yang’s “Fantasy for Erhu and Strings” with the New York Classical Players. He has been invited by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago to play the solo erhu part in “Iris dévoilée” by Chen Qi-Gang. He has also appeared as an erhu solo in the U.S. Premiere of Yeow-Kwon Chung’s “Red Cliff” Piano Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. In fall 2017, he performed a haegeum concerto on the erhu with Busan Metropolitan Traditional Music Orchestra. He has also been invited by the Metropolitan Museum to give recitals at their Gallery Concert Series and Patrons Lounge Concert, as well as a recital at the Caramoor Center for the Music and the Arts. He also performs annually at the Spring Celebration presented by the Chinese Cultural Arts Institute in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Andy plays on viola made by one of his best friends Jacob Ho.
Cellist Sophie Shao, winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and top prizes at the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky competitions, is a versatile and passionate artist whose performances the New York Times has described as “eloquent, powerful,” “beautifully phrased and interestingly textured,” the LA Times noted as “impressive” and the Washington Post called “deeply satisfying.”
Shao has premiered Howard Shore’s “Mythic Gardens” and Richard Wilson’s “The Cello Has Many Secrets” with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Shao has given recitals in Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Middlebury College, Phillips Collection, Lincoln Center, the complete Bach Suites at Union College and curates her popular “Sophie Shao and Friends” groups. She was a member of Chamber Music Society Two/Bowers Program, a young artist residency of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Her recordings include the Complete Bach Suites, Andre Previn’s Reflections for Cello and English Horn and Orchestra on EMI Classics, Richard Wilson’s Diablerie and Brash Attacks on Albany Records, Marlboro Music Festival’s 50th Anniversary on Bridge Records, and Howard Shore’s “Mythic Gardens” on Sony Classical.
Ms. Shao began playing the cello at age six and was a student of Shirley Trepel, the former principal cellist of the Houston Symphony. At age thirteen she enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, studying cello with David Soyer and chamber music with Felix Galimir. She then continued her studies with Aldo Parisot at Yale University, receiving a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale College and an M.M. from the Yale School of Music where she was enrolled as a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She is on the faculty of the University of Connecticut and plays on a cello made by Honore Derazey from 1855 once owned by Pablo Casals.