Class of 2018 - 2019 Accolades

6.7.19 10th International Violin Competition Leopold Mozart - Josh Brown and Karisa Chiu, two Academy alums steal top spots at international competition! Both students studied with Almita Vamos.

First Prize – Mozart Prize: Joshua Brown, Violinist, USA 
Second Prize: Karisa Chiu, USA 
Third Prize: Kaoru Oe, Japan //


6.1.19 Current Academy student Noelle Naito and alumnus Maya Buchanan, students of Almita Vamos, participated in the tenth Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School.  Held biennially, the symposium, which is dedicated to fostering the legacy of renowned teacher Dorothy DeLay, features five days of master classes, recitals, and pedagogy sessions, and provides opportunities for participants to observe and explore how to nurture and develop the exceptional student artist.  Juilliard alumnus Brian Lewis, a faculty member of the University of Texas at Austin, was the artistic director of the symposium. Up to 12 exceptional student artists were chosen to attend by competitive audition, tuition-free, as performers and recipients of on-stage coaching at the symposium. 


Congratulations Seniors Claire, Irina, Elena, Alon, John, Natalie, and Yuelin!

   “Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!”  ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!


Claire Arias-Kim    The Juilliard School, New York, NY – Violin Performance with Li Lin


Irina Casasnovas   Royal Academy of Music, London, England – Violin Performance with Rodney Friend


Elena Galentas      Lynn University Conservatory of Music, Boca Raton, FL  - Viola Performance with Ralph Fielding   

Alon Hayut            University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, Ann Arbor, MI – Cello Performance       

                                 with Richard Aaron


John Heo               Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, IN  -  Violin Performance with Mauricio Fuks


Natalie Morin         Northeastern University, Boston, MA  - Political Science and Economics, combined major


Yuelin Zhong         The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD – Piano Performance with Marian Hahn


Congratulations to the Xena String Quartet advancing to the semi-final round at Fischoff this year!! Very proud of your talent and drive.



Very excited and proud of the fabulous chamber groups advancing to the quarter-final round of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition on May 10-12, 2019.

Cavatina Piano Quartet - Elinor Detmer and Sonja Jones, violins; Mia Wimbiscus, cello; Colin Song, piano
Coached by Mark George and Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff

Chiave Piano Trio - Esme Arias-Kim, violin/viola; Kelly Kim, violin/viola; Yerin Yang, piano
Coached by Jasmine Lin and Abraham Stokman

Fiore String Quartet - Isabella Brown and Kaylin Liu, violins; Elena Galentas, viola; Alon Hayut, cello
Coached by Rodolfo Vieira

Xena String Quartet - Claire Arias-Kim, Noelle Naito, and Isabel Chen, violin/viola; Camille Toubol, cello
Coached by Rodolfo Vieira


4.13. 19 The Nova String Quartet (Irina Casasnovas, John Heo, Zechary Mo, and Cameron Chiu) received the Bronze Medal at the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition (SPSQC), held in Hamline University's Sundin Music Hall, Saint, Paul, MN, on April 13, 2019.  Nova was one of six semi-finalists selected nationwide.  Founded in 2006 as a performance forum for outstanding high school chamber musicians, the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition's primary mission is to celebrate excellence in string quartet playing, foster an increased appreciation for the chamber music art form, and enhance the music culture in this country. The group is coached by Mathias Tacke.


Xena String Quartet (Claire Arias Kim, Noelle Naito, Isabel Chen and Camille Toubol) also competed in SPSQC as one of six groups selected nationwide as a semi-finalist. Xena won the special Audience Prize at the competition.  The group is coached by Rodolfo Vieira.


Violinist John Heo, student of Almita Vamos,  is a winner of the Highland Park Music Club Young Musicians’ Scholarship competition.  John will be performing during their luncheon meeting at Lake Forest Place on May 22. Former Academy student James Baik, cello, was also a scholarship winner.


4.5.19   Violinist Zechary Mo was named an Irving M. Klein semi-finalist. Celebrating 34 years of helping the world's top young string musicians gain prominence in the competitive world of classical music, the Irving M. Klein International String Competition returns to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music June 1 -2, 2019. Zechary studies in the Academy with Almita and Roland Vamos.


4.5.19 Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 A.N. & Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition!  

Xena String Quartet won First Place Strings and Piano Division and The Barnett Chamber Music Competition Grand Award Winner.

Congratulations to Claire Arias-Kim, Noelle Naito, Isabel Chen, violin/viola and Camille Toubol, cello. Xena is coached by Rodolfo Vieira. Earlier this year, Xena won 2nd place in the Rembrandt Players High School Chamber Music Competition.


3.11.19 On the road to St. Paul...

Congratulations to the members and coaches of the Nova and Xena String Quartets, advancing to the final round of the 14th Annual Saint Paul String Quartet Competition at Hamline University, Saint Paul, MN. The online poll will OPEN at approximately 4:20pm on April 13 so local and online audiences can vote for their favorite quartet. Stay tuned for webstreaming updates.

The SPSQC has garnered a national reputation for showcasing the nation’s finest ...pre-college string players. Young artists from this event now populate the most prestigious conservatories and music programs in the country.

Nova - Irina Casasnovas, John Heo, violins, Zechary Mo, viola, Cameron Chiu, cello - coached by Mathias Tacke
Xena - Claire Arias-Kim, Noelle Naito, violins, Isabel Chen, viola, Camille Toubol, cello - coached by Rodolfo Vieira
All of the students are members of the Academy.


2.23.19 Violist Zechary Mo is the winner of the 72nd Annual West Suburban Symphony Society Solo Competition. The competition is open to string, woodwind and brass instrumentalists and to vocalists in grades  9‐12. On May 5, 2019, Zechary will receive cash prize and perform in a 3:30 pm concert at Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, Illinois, with the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra.     


2.17.19 Cameron Chiu won 1st place at the Fox Valley Orchestra Concerto Competition on February 17, 2019 and Zechary Mo received second place. They will both perform with the orchestra on 4/28/19.  Cameron will play the 3rd mvt of Lalo cello concerto, and Zechary will be playing the 1st mvt of Walton Viola Concerto.


2.22.19 Mia Wimbiscus was named winner in the ENKOR Int'l Music Competition Winner in the category Strings | 4th Edition

ENKOR provides students a unique opportunity to get heard and recognized by hundreds of professionals and influential people in the music industry. It is the only competition with a Jury Board (International Academy of Performing Arts and Sciences) consisting of 500+ members from 70+ countries on 6 continents! Mia studies cello with Hans Jørgen Jensen,  professor of cello at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.


Category B  - Age 11-15

Mia Wimbiscus, Cello USA, Age 15


2.2.19 DuPage Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Auditions

The DSO encourages serious study and musical excellence among young musicians through its annual Young Artists Auditions held annually in January/February. Each entrant is evaluated by experienced judges and  receives written comments and suggestions based on their individual performances.   The First Place Winner will appear at the March subscription concert, and first and second place winners receive cash prizes.         

Young Artists Winners

Isabella Brown - First Place

Isabella will play the Dvorak Violin Concerto with the Dupage Symphony Orchestra at the March 16 subscription concert at Wentz Concert Hall.   

Irina CasasnovasSecond Place

Honorable Mention

Cameron Chiu

Zechary Mo


2.3.19 Rembrandt Chamber Players 24th Annual High School Chamber Music Competition


Founded in 1995, the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians Annual High School Chamber Music Competition is widely regarded as one of the premier competitions of its kind in the Midwest, drawing participants from the Music Institute of Chicago, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Midwest Young Artists, and a variety of public and private schools throughout the region. Competition winners have gone on to prestigious careers in music with some holding positions in the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and San Diego Symphony Orchestras as well as the New York Philharmonic.


Xena String Quartet - Second Place

Claire Arias Kim, Noelle Naito, Isabel Chen, Camille Toubol  - coached by Rodolfo Vieira

Fiero String Quartet -  Honorable Mention

Isabella Brown, Kaylin Liu, Elena Galentas, Alon Hayut - coached by Rodolfo Vieira


As a winner, Xena will perform at the Triumph and Joy Concert at The Cliff Dwellers in Chicago on March 27th at 7:30 PM, and later in the year, the group will perform as part of the Power of Music educational outreach program at Evanston Township High School and the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School.  


1.29. 19

Congratulations to Academy violinist John Heo, second place winner at The Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition, a prestigious annual competition open to students of strings, winds, brass, percussion. John’s performance of the Walton Violin Concerto, 1st movement, earned him a cash prize to further his education.

Violinist Irina Casasnovas advanced to the final round. Both  students study with Almita Vamos in the Academy. Each year participants compete at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL for a solo performance with the Montgomery Symphony and a spot on From the Top.


1.19.19 Zechary Mo and Claire Arias-Kim, students of Almita Vamos, are finalists in the La Crosse Rising Stars Concerto Competition, held on Saturday, January 19. Out of 27 contestants, six semi-finalists were selected --three string and three piano. Then, at the semifinal round, four finalists were selected--two string and two piano. Claire and Zechary, along with the pianists, will each get to perform with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Alexander Platt in the final round of the competition on March 9 at Viterbo Fine Arts Center. The competition is now open to non-Wisconsin residents.


1.9. 19 Kelly Kim, student of Sang Mee Lee and Almita Vamos,  is one of four winners in the district-wide Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition held January 9. Kelly will perform Wieniawski  Violin Concerto No. 2 with the GSO Orchestra on March 20, at the GBN Center for Performing Arts.


The MTNA National Student Competitions are the most successful and prestigious student competitions in the country Each year, thousands of students compete for top prizes and national recognition. The purpose of the Music Teachers National Association Performance competitions is to provide educational experiences for students and teachers and to recognize exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence.


The three-tiered competitions begin with live state competitions. The winners/representatives of each state's competitions advance to a video-only division competition. Division winners compete in the national finals at the annual MTNA National Conference. The state competitions are considered the primary educational level with the division and national levels showcasing outstanding performance and honoring significant pedagogical achievement. The National Conference takes place in Spokane, Washington March 16-20, 2019.

Competitions include Composition, Brass, Piano, String, Voice, Woodwind and Chamber Music.


2018 MTNA Competition Results for Illinois


Illinois Senior Performance String

Winner: Irina Casasnovas, 18, Academy violin student of Almita Vamos. Irina advanced to the video-only division round where she placed as first alternate for the national competition in Spokane, Washington this March.

2018 MTNA Competition Results for Iowa

Iowa Senior Performance String

Winner:  Katya Moeller, 14, Academy violin student of Almita Vamos.  

Katya advanced to the video-only division round and placed first.  She will advance to the national competition in Spokane, Washington this March.



1.19 Isabella Brown, student of Almita Vamos,  won the 2019 Lakeview Orchestra Concerto Competition  and will perform the first movement of the Dvorak Violin Concerto with them on February 5 at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago.  


DVORÁK’S NEW WORLD  7:30 PM 9:00 PM 19:30 21:00 Athenaeum Theatre2936 North Southport Avenue. Chicago

Josh Mather conductor
Isabella Brown, Winner of the 2019 Student Concerto Competition

DVOŘÁK: Violin Concerto, First Movement
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"


1.19 John Heo, student of Almita Vamos,  won the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Annual Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition. This competition was begun by Art Montzka in 1986 and has enjoyed a proud tradition of featuring some of Northern Illinois’ finest young artists. John will play with the orchestra on February 23 at the NIU Boutell Memorial Concert Hall.  He performed the Walton Violin Concerto 1st Mvt, and will play the entire concerto in concert.


1.19 Esme Arias-Kim, student of Almita Vamos, has just returned from an amazing trip to Germany, Dec. 31st-January 9th,  where she was invited to have lessons and master classes with  Julia Fischer at Musikferien am Starnberger.  Julia Fischer is a German classical violinist and pianist. She is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 21st century.


Esme performed and spent time with Ms. Fischer as well as other esteemed violinists. The event was held at Evangelische Akademie Tutzing at Starnberger near Munich.  She had daily lessons with Kirill Troussov, who supported and guided by Sir Yehudi Menuhin at a young age, is now widely recognized in Europe as one of the leading violinists of his generation.    


1.19 Isabella Brown, John Heo, and Noelle Naito, students of Almita Vamos, will participate in the preliminary round of the 2019 Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition. The Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition is a prestigious annual competition open to students of strings, winds, brass, percussion who are in seventh through twelfth grades. This nationally recognized event is sponsored by the Montgomery Symphony League. The competition will be held on Saturday and Sunday, January 26 - January 27, 2019 at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. The top entrants from Saturday's preliminary round of competition will compete on Sunday in a final round of competition which will be open to the public. 

First Prize: Performance with the Montgomery Symphony at the Davis Theater on April 30, 2019

$10,000 consisting of a Cash Award of $2,500 and a separate Educational Award of $7,500 with designation towards the study of music.

Second Prize: Cash award of $3,000 Third Prize: Cash award of $2,000 Fourth Prize: Cash award of $1,000


1.19 DePaul Concerto Competition  - The DePaul Concerto Festival for Young Performers was founded in 2003. To accommodate the increasing difficulty of repertoire, a decision was made to conduct the Festival with a full symphony orchestra. A partnership was formed in 2007 with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mina Zikri. That year, thirteen winners had the privilege of performing a concerto movement in concert. In 2008, the Festival was opened to students outside of the Community Music Division. Viola was added in 2009, clarinet in 2012, and oboe and bassoon in 2013. In 2018, the Festival expanded to include a Junior division for piano, violin, and viola. Auditions are held at DePaul School of Music, Holtschneider Performance Center, 2330 N. Halsted St. The winners concert is Sunday, February 17, 2019.


Claire Arias-Kim, Sameer Agrawal and Zechary Mo will play with the Oistrakh Symphony on February 17.


Open Division Winners 2019

Cello Honorable Mention

Cameron Chiu - Lalo, E.: Concerto in D Minor, Mvt. 3, student of Horacio Contreras

Mia Wimbiscus - Haydn, F. J.: Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb:1, Mvt. 1, student of Hans Jensen


Viola Winner

Zechary Mo - Stamitz, C.: Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Mvt. 1, student of Almita Vamos


Violin Winners

Sameer Agrawal - Wieniawski, H.: Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22, Mvt. 1, student of Sang Mee Lee

Claire Arias-Kim - Mozart, W. A.: Concerto in G Major, K. 216, Mvt. 1, student of Almita Vamos

Honorable Mention with Distinction

Kelly Kim - Wieniawski, H.: Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 22, Mvt. 1, student of Sang Mee Lee and Almita Vamos

Honorable Mention

Sonya Jones - Bruch, M.: Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26, Mvt. 1, student of Almita Vamos


Over 250 exceptional young musicians from all corners of the country, competed in Midwest Young Artists Conservatory's 22nd Annual Walgreens National Concerto Competition from December 27 to 29 at Ravinia's Bennett Gordon Hall and the MYAC Center in Highwood, IL.

Students from elementary through 12th grades competed for more than $20,000 in scholarships and cash prizes in the MYAC Division and the Open Division, which were both further divided into the Junior Level (up to 8th grade) and the Senior Level (9th through 12th graders).

Walgreens Corporation’s annual sponsorship enables MYAC to provide students with distinguished judges, a video recording of their performance, written performance evaluations, and an inviting and nurturing environment in which to participate.


Junior Open Division Strings Category

Honorable Mention: Sameer Agrawal, violin student of Sang Mee Lee


Senior Open Division Strings Category

Honorable Mention: Zechary Mo, viola student of Almita Vamos



Four Academy students were named 2019 National YoungArts Foundation Winners for Classical Music. The YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12 from across the United States.  Selected through a blind adjudication process, the winners represent the top 10 percent of applications. Winners are named Finalists, the organization’s highest honor, Honorable Mention and Merit.


Finalists have the opportunity to participate in National YoungArts Week in Miami in January.  All Honorable Mention and Merit Winners become part of a professional network of over 20,000 alumni artists and are eligible to participate in YoungArts’ regional programs, including YoungArts Miami in February, YoungArts Los Angeles in March and YoungArts New York in April. Students spend a week fully immersed in their art form, participate genre-specific master classes, and network with equally motivated peers, and perform at leading venues in New York.


Honorable Mention Winners

Isabella Brown, Classical Music/Violin

Alon Hayut, Classical Music/Cello


Merit Winners

Claire Arias-Kim, Classical Music/Violin

Irina Casasnovas, Classical Music/Violin


Recognition Levels 
Merit: The YoungArts Merit award level recognizes work that has been deemed as commendable by the panel, strong technically with a clear artistic point of view.  Merit winners receive a medallion and are invited to participate in a regional program, space permitting.

Honorable Mention: The YoungArts Honorable Mention award level recognizes work that demonstrates exceptional technique; a strong sense of artistry; and a depth of thinking/performance that exceeds the level of peers at this career stage. Honorable Mention winners receive a medallion, a $250 monetary award, and are invited to participate in a regional program, space permitting. 

Finalist: The YoungArts Finalist award recognizes work that demonstrates exceptional technique; a strong, sophisticated, nuanced, and clear artistic point of view; and a depth of thinking/performance that far exceeds the level of peers at this career stage. Finalists receive a medallion, and are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week. During National YoungArts Week participants have the opportunity to work with the panel in person.


11.18.18 Cellist Alon Hayut, student of Horacio Contreras, was awarded the AUDIENCE PRIZE in the final live round of 2018 Michigan Solo Competition sponsored by MASTA, a state chapter of the American String Teachers Association. 



The Fifteenth Annual Sejong Music Competition was held yesterday, Sunday, November 4, 2018 at the University of Illinois at Chicago Performing Arts Center. This competition is open to all pre-college violin and piano students. The Winners’ concert will take place on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 at 2pm at the Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center (2nd floor), 78 E. Washington Ave., Chicago.



FIRST: Isabella Brown

SECOND: Katya Moeller

HONORABLE MENTION: Claire Arias-Kim and Sidney Lee



FIRST: Esme Arias-Kim  

SECOND: Sameer Agrawal


Congratulations to faculty members Almita Vamos, Sang Mee Lee, and I-Hao Lee.


Dating back to 2006, the Academy has had long-standing success at the Sejong Competition.  Previous Academy winners include Ria Honda, Zachary Brandon, Karisa Chiu, John Heo, John Schindler (piano), Joshua Brown, Julian Rhee, Hannah White, Gallia Kastner, Serena Harnack, Adé Williams, Ethan Hoppe, Paul Juhn (piano), Sean Yeh (piano), Siwoo Kim, Samantha Bennett, Lydia Umlauf, Jessica Cho, (cello), David Mei, (cello), Nicholas Brown, Claire Bourg, Seoyun Baek, (piano) Kyle and Ryan Jannack-Huang, (piano), Hansuh Rhee, Mira Williams, (viola) Sofia Kim, Tabby Rhee, Sophia Cho, Hannah Selonick, Jennifer Cha, Barbara Juminaga, Michaela Wellems, Tabitha Oh, Ben Lash, (cello) Laura Park, Mindy Park, (cello), Erika Gray, Shelley Liu, Susie Kho, Natsuki Kumagai, and Ashley Sachay.


The goals of the Sejong Music Competition are to discover talented young musicians and encourage them in their studies, and to also introduce traditional Korean music expressed through Western media. The competition strives to increase the awareness and understanding of Korea’s cultural heritage amongst the younger generations growing up in the United States so as to promote harmony among people of various ethnic backgrounds and bridge Asian and Western cultures.



10.27.18 The American Liszt Society Chicago/Midwest Chapter celebrated Franz Liszt's 207th birthday by featuring International Liszt Competition winners Joseph Kingma, Chen-Shen Fan, and young rising star, Yerin Yang, performing piano works of Franz Liszt. Yerin, a member of the Academy, studies with Alan Chow and James Giles.  Yerin was awarded First Prize, Best Performance of Solo Work Award, and the Young Jury Award at the 2018 Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. In March 2018, Yerin was named winner of the 2018 Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. With this achievement, she will perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during the 2018/19 season.      


10.26 – 28.18   Illinois American String Teacher Association (ILASTA) Concerto Competition

Academy violinist, Irina Casasnovas, 18, student of Almita Vamos, was the Grand Prize Winner of the inaugural ILASTA Concerto Competition on Sunday, October 28. There were separate divisions for violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, and harp. Irina, who won the violin division, competed against the other division winners, including viola division winner, Zechary Mo, 16, also a student of Almita Vamos in the Academy.  The Competition was open to all string students aged 16-22 studying or living in Illinois who have an instructor who is an ASTA member.  Cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100 was awarded in each division for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively.  A $1000 Grand Prize courtesy of Michael Becker Fine Violins in Park Ridge.


Irina was also the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Senior String Competition winner in DeKalb, Illinois on Friday, October 26. Irina performed Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, 1st movement, Bach Partita No.2, 1st and 2nd movements, and Inscriptions by Schulamit Ran. On Saturday, Irina performed Inscriptions at the Winners’ Recital in DeKalb. She will advance now to the Video Division Competition in December.  Division Winners and Representatives will be required to travel to perform at the MTNA National Conference in Spokane, Washington, March 16–20, 2019.


10.21.18 Piano student Eriko Darcy received Senior Division Honorable Mention in the Illinois State Music Teacher Association (ISMTA) Competition. Eriko studies with Dr. Matthew Hagle in the Academy.The Illinois State Music Teacher Association (ISMTA) Competition is a single tier competition offered at 2 different locations, ISMTA Competition NORTH and ISMTA Competition SOUTH.  Each competition is run independently with separate chairs and winners. Both ISMTA Competition NORTH and ISMTA Competition SOUTH are held in October, at least one week prior to the annual ISMTA Conference.  All first place winners at each division will be invited to perform at the Winners Recital during the ISMTA Conference. There were 7 Primary, 22 Elementary, 22 Junior, 13 Senior, and 3 Collegiate participants. The judges are Dr. Matthew Hagle of Music Institute of Chicago, Dr. Marcia Bosits, Dr. Karen Kan-Walsh, Heidi Mayer of Northwestern University,  Dr. Svetlana Belsky of University of Chicago, and Junichi Sato of DePaul University.


10.20.18   Claire Arias-Kim won first place at the Rockford Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition on October 20.  She will perform the first mvt of the Dvorak Concerto with RSYO at the Coronado Theater on Sunday, May 5, 2019.  The Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Rock Valley College collaborate to present this annual concerto competition targeting young musicians up to 21 years of age from a 50 mile radius of Rockford. Cash prizes are awarded for the top three competitors and the first prize winner is offered an opportunity to perform with the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra at its spring performance.


10. 14/ 18  Congratulations to the 2018 33rd Annual Music Festival in Honor of Confucius Competition Winners

The competition was held on Sunday, October 14 at the Merit School of Music. The Chinese Fine Arts Society (CFAS) is a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to promoting the appreciation of Chinese culture, enhancing cultural exchange, and pursuing excellence in Chinese music, dance, and visual arts. Since its founding in 1984, CFAS has been a leading champion of Chinese culture, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the beauty and majesty of both traditional and contemporary Chinese art.

First place winners of the competition will be featured at the Winners Concert on Sunday, November 18.


CELLO SENIOR 1st Place: Camille Toubol, student of Hans Jørgen Jensen

CELLO JUNIOR II 1st Place: Mia Wimbiscus, student of Hans Jørgen Jensen

VIOLIN SENIOR  Honorable Mention: Claire Arias-Kim, student of Almita Vamos  

Honorable Mention: Kaylin Liu, student of Almita Vamos

VIOLIN JUNIOR II  2nd Place: Linda Wang, student of Hye-Sun Lee and Almita Vamos


10.9.18 Irina Casasnovas and Claire Arias-Kim, violin students of Almita Vamos, will participate in a master class led by violinist Augustin Hadelich at Bein and Fushi on Tuesday, October 9 at 6:30 pm. Classes are held in the Great Room at Bein & Fushi, 410 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1014  Chicago. Please RSVP to reserve your seat: or 312-663-0150. Admission is free, but seating is limited.  “He has firmly established himself as one of the great violinists of today. Showcasing a wide-ranging and adventurous repertoire, he is consistently cited for his phenomenal technique, soulful approach, and beauty of tone.”  Don’t miss this great class with two of our Academy violinists who were invited by special invitation.


10.7.18 Violinist Esme Arias-Kim, student of Almita Vamos, will perform on the Young Steinway series at the Skokie Public Library this Sunday Oct. 7 at 3:00. Esme will perform Dvorak , Bruch, Paganini and Sarasate. The concerts showcase young people with extraordinary talent, giving local audiences the chance to enjoy first-class music, for free, close to home. Concerts begin at 3 pm in the Petty Auditorium. Free tickets are distributed at 2:30 pm. Doors open at 2:45 pm, beginning with people with disabilities.


Cellist Luka Coetzee, student of Horacio Contreras, was featured on a Canadian Global TV interview promoting the Mount Royal University Conservatory Program in Calgary.


Violinist Claire Arias-Kim will be featured on "Introductions" in December. Introductions is WFMT’s weekly Saturday morning radio program that features talented pre-college classical musicians in the Chicago area. Claire was also invited to perform as soloist by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra on their education concerts.   She will perform the Polonaise in D major by Wieniawski in 8 concerts during April 2-5.  Claire spent two months this summer performing on concerts and master classes at the Aspen Music Festival and School.


9. 23.18 Esme Arias-Kim won first place in the New York International Artist Association (division 11-14yrs).  She will be one of six performers featured in a recital this Sunday, September 23rd, at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall where she will perform the first movement of the Bruch Concerto as well as Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen. This comes after an amazing summer that included Center Stage Strings in Michigan, the Il Piccolo Violino Magico Competition in Italy, and the Heifetz Institute in Staunton, Virginia.


8.19.18 Katya Moeller was featured in a "Recital to Benefit the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra" on August 19 with the University of Iowa Symphony, conducted by Dr. William LaRue Jones.  On September 9, Katya performed on the Piano Sundays at the Old Capitol Museum "Rising Stars Showcase".  In its 12th season, the concerts are featured six times each year.


Yerin Yang was featured on Introductions last week.  Yerin won the 2018 Crain-Maling Foundation Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, and as a result, she will perform with the CSO during the 2018/2019 season. She will also be featured on the 8th Annual Franz Lizst Birthday Gala Concert, Saturday, Oct 27 2018, Nichols Concert Hall. Watch for more information regarding tickets.



7.1.18  Each summer the Southeastern Piano Festival transforms the University of South Carolina School of Music into a cultural destination that draws in audiences and young piano talent from across the United States. The Southeastern Piano Festival is a high-level training platform for the young pianists, a presenter of new and world-renowned concert pianists and master teachers, an advocate for new piano music, and a vehicle for exploring different roles the piano plays on stage and beyond. Twenty of some of the best pre-college pianists on the piano scene today take part in a rigorous program that includes daily lessons with USC piano faculty, master classes with guest artists and up to five hours of practice a day. The week's events culminate with the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition, adjudicated by a distinguished panel of judges. 


MIC is happy to announce that Academy pianist Yerin Yang has won First Prize in the 2018 Arthur Fraser Competition along with the Young Jury Award and Best Solo Work. Yerin will perform a complete concerto with the South Carolina Philharmonic in Masterworks concert series during the 2018/2019 season. Earlier this spring, Yerin won first prize in the Crain-Maling Foundation CSO Young Artists Competition. 


6.5.18 Congratulations to twelve-year-old newly accepted Academy violinist Esme Arias-Kim, who will be representing the United States at the 2018 il Piccolo Violino Magico International Competition.

The competition will be held in San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy, from the 4th to the 8th of July. Open to international violinists aged 9 to 13 years old, the first prize winner will receive a cash prize and a number of international performance opportunities. 


6.4.18 Academy violinist Julian Rhee, first-prize winner in the 2018 Johansen International Competition, has won second prize as well as Best Performance of a work by J.S. Bach and Best Performance of this year's Commissioned Piece, in the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. Julian was one of only three finalists in this prestigious competition. Judges were Glenn Dicterow, Karen Dreyfus, David Froom (who wrote the JIC commissioned work in 2015!), Janet Horvath, Mel Margolis, Ian Swensen, and Barbara Day Turner.