Sirena Huang, United States – Gold Medalist
Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight,” Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.
Sirena has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards. She is the 2022 Gold Medalist of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, and was also awarded eight of the eleven special prizes. In 2017, she was awarded First Prize at the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition and later that year, she was the winner of the New York Concert Artist Worldwide Debut Audition. In 2009, she won First Prize Gold Medalist of the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. She won First Prize and the Audience Award at the Cooper International Competition in 2011. That same year, she was also named the first Artist-in-Residence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she was awarded the Hannloser Prize for Violin at the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland. She is also a top prize winner at the Singapore International Violin Competition as well as the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition.
Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine and has performed in twenty countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Shanghai, Russian, and Singapore symphony orchestras, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has performed in leading venues including Berliner Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, the Kravis Center, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, Shanghai Concert Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall, among many others. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Music in the Mountains Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.
Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians. She has appeared at the World Peace Conference held in Petra and at the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague.
In addition to her TED Talk in 2006, Sirena has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase, and NPR’s From the Top as well as interviews with WNPR, CNBC, WTNH, WTIC, WB20 and Beethoven Radio.
Julian Rhee, United States – Silver Medalist
Julian Rhee is quickly gaining recognition as an emerging artist and performer, praised for his “sophisticated, assured tone, superb intonation, and the kind of poise and showmanship that thrills audiences.” (The Strad )
An avid soloist, Julian made his Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra debut at age 8, and has gone on to perform with orchestras such as the Santa Rosa, Eugene, Pittsburgh, Madison, Avanti, West Suburban, Lacrosse and San Diego symphonies, the Aspen and Wisconsin philharmonics, and the San Jose and Wisconsin chamber orchestras, among others. He has performed in an array of venues including Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, Heinz Hall, the Overture Center for the Arts, Teatro El Círculo in Rosario, Argentina, the Musikverein in Vienna, Bartók Hall in Hungary, New World Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center as a Presidential Scholar, receiving his medal at the White House. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin and the Indianapolis Symphony, Nicholas McGegan and the Eugene Symphony, and the Middleton, Bucks County, Brevard, Menomonee Falls, and Fresno philharmonic orchestras.
Julian is the Silver Medalist of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, winner of Astral Artists’ National Auditions, and the First Prize winner of the 2020 Elmar Oliveira International Competition, where he was also awarded the special Community Award.
A passionate chamber musician, Julian’s performance on violin and viola earned him First Prize in the Fischoff and the M-Prize Chamber Competitions. He has attended and performed at the Heifetz, Four Seasons, Ravinia Steans Institute, Rockport Music and Northshore Chamber music festivals. He has also appeared alongside Time for Three, Jupiter Chamber Players, 98.7 WFMT’s Introductions, Milwaukee Public Television, and Wisconsin Public Radio and Television.
Julian studied with Hye-Sun Lee and Almita Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory.
Julian is the recipient of the 1699 Lady Tennant Antonio Stradivari through the generosity of the Mary B. Galvin Foundation. The Mary B. Galvin Foundation supports the very highest level of string playing by loaning precious antique Italian instruments to artists of exceptional talent and ability.
Minami Yoshida, Japan – Bronze Medalist
Minami Yoshida is one of the most promising young violinists from Japan, and most recently received the Bronze Medal at the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Previously she received First Prize at the Music Competition of Japan at age 16 and subsequently became a Finalist at the 2015 Sibelius International Violin Competition. The following year she received Third Prize at the Concours musical international de Montréal, and in 2021 was a Laureate of the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition in Hannover. She is also the recipient of several awards including the Tokiko Iwatani Award Foundation for Youth, and the Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant Award.
Minami Yoshida gave her Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra debut at age 12, and performed with orchestras including the Helsinki, Tokyo and Kansai philharmonic orchestras, the Finnish Radio, Indianapolis, Tokyo, City of Kyoto and the Tokyo Metropolitan symphony orchestras, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the NDR Radiophilharmonie, among others.
She has appeared at several festivals including the Ravinia Steans Institute and the Taipei Music Festival and Academy. She has received scholarships from the Tan Family Education Foundation, the ROHM Music Foundation, and the Ezoe Memorial Recruit Foundation.
Born in the traditional ancient city of Nara, Japan, Ms. Yoshida began violin at age five. After graduating from Toho Gakuen Music High School, she received her Artist Diploma from the Toho Gakuen College of Music as an honor student. She received her Bachelor of Music degree as the recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship at the New England Conservatory, and is currently studying in the Toyko College of Music’s Artist Diploma Program as an Honorary Scholarship Student. She studies with Miriam Fried, Koichiro Harada and Kyoko Takezawa.
Minami Yoshida currently plays the 1716 “Booth” Stradivarius, on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.
Claire Wells, United States – Fourth Place Laureate
American violinist Claire Wells grew up in a musical family, playing both violin and piano from the age of three. Now studying at the Kronberg Academy with Mihaela Martin, Claire Wells has gained international attention as a soloist. Wells was the Mendelssohn-Prize First Prize winner and Commission Prize winner at the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Competition 2021, and has taken major prizes at the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, the Mirecourt International Competition, and the Lynn Harrell Competition, among many others.
Claire Wells studied privately with Brian Lewis, Sandy Yamamoto and Emanuel Borok, and in 2017 attended the Yehudi Menuhin School with Lutsia Ibragimova. In 2020, Claire Wells studied with Mihaela Martin at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln.
Wells has performed with major orchestras such as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jalisco Philharmonic, the Shen Zhen Symphony Orchestra, the Nancy Lyric Symphony Orchestra and the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra, among others. A passionate chamber musician, Claire Wells has worked alongside major artists such as Nobuko Imai, Frans Helmerson, Christian Tetzlaff and Steven Isserlis. Wells has also taken coachings from the likes of Ana Chumachenco, Boris Kuschnir, Donald Weilerstein, Kolja Blacher, Pamela Frank, Robert Levin, and Roman Simovic. She has performed at festivals such as the Music@Menlo chamber music festival, Kronberg Academy Chamber Music Connects the World, Lac Leman Masterclasses, Tibor Varga Music Academy Masterclasses, the Aspen Music Festival, Kronberg Academy Masterclasses, and many others.
Claire Wells plays on a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, on loan from a generous donor.
SooBeen Lee, South Korea – Fifth Place Laureate
SooBeen Lee has been praised by The Washington Post for her “poised presence, a luxurious sound, spot-on intonation, and a bow arm that surely will be the envy of her peers.” She has appeared as soloist with every major Korean orchestra, including the Seoul and Busan philharmonics and KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) Symphony Orchestra. Other distinctions include performances for former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, at the Blue House for the King and Queen of Malaysia, with China’s Wuhan Philharmonic at the Seoul Arts Center, and for many state guests in Korea.
As First Prize winner of the 2014 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, SooBeen was also honored with the Slomovic Soloist Prize for support of her Washington, D.C. recital debut at The Kennedy Center, the Michaels Award, which provided support for her New York recital debut, and three performance prizes including the Korean Concert Society Prize. SooBeen made her New York concerto debut performing the Chausson Poème with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall.
Additional performances have included the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Gulf Coast and Rockford symphonies, the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Plymouth Philharmonic, the Sibelius Concerto with the Longwood Symphony, the Brahms Concerto with the Palm Beach Symphony, and recitals for Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Southern Adventist University, Buffalo Chamber Music Society, Abbey Church Events and the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. This season, SooBeen performs as soloist with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and in recital at the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, Colgate University, and the Harriman-Jewell
SooBeen’s festival engagements have included appearances at the Heifetz Music Festival, Chopin Music Festival in Poland, City of London Festival, Busan International Music Festival, Great Mountains International Music Festival, Seoul Spring Festival, and Japan’s Ishikawa Summer Music Academy, where she worked with YCA alumnus Koichiro Harada.
In the coming season SooBeen will make concerto appearances with the Aiken Symphony and the Oregon Symphony. She will present recital and chamber music performances by the Tri-County Concerts Association (Wayne, PA), FPC Concerts (Myrtle Beach, SC), and the Morgan Library and Museum. As part of Young Concert Artists’ special season finale performance at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in May 2023, SooBeen will perform alongside fellow YCA roster artists and distinguished alumni including pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Chee-Yun, and harpsichordist Anthony Newman.
SooBeen began studying the violin at the age of four. At eight, she won the National Competition of the Korean Chamber Orchestra, First Prize at the Russia International Youth Violin Competition the following year, and captured First Prize at the 2013 Moscow International David Oistrakh Violin Competition. In 2022, she became a Laureate of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
SooBeen currently studies with Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory, where she performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto as winner of their Concerto Competition.
Joshua Brown, United States – Sixth Place Laureate
Joshua Brown was first recognized for his debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra at the age of 15, for which he received glowing reviews from critics including “stunning,” “brilliantly played” and “spellbinding.” Following that debut, Joshua has gone on to perform with dozens of orchestras both in the United States and abroad, continually garnering praise from critics, has performed in concert halls around the world, has been featured on NPR’s From the Top, WFMT, WNIU, WCLV, ElmhurstTV, Fox5DC, Brazil’s Record TV, and Argentina’s Radio Nacional Clásica FM 96.7.
At the age of 19, Joshua won the 10th International Violin Competition of Leopold Mozart in Augsburg, Germany, securing the First Prize, “Mozart” Prize, the Audience Award, the Chairman of the Jury Special Prize, the Kronberg Academy Special Prize, and the CD Production Special Prize. Additionally, in 2022, Joshua was named a Laureate of the 11th Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
Other competition victories include the Cooper International Violin Competition (Second Prize and the Audience Award) and the IX International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians held in Novosibirsk, Russia (the Audience Award, Special Prize, the Academy of Arts Golden Medal, and the Siberian Academy of Arts Talent Award). Joshua was also a top prize winner in the Stradivarius International Competition, awarded the Grand Prize for Violin in the ENKOR International Competition, was a National YoungArts Winner for two consecutive years, and was named a Yamaha Young Performing Artist. Additionally, as part of Kairos String Quartet, Joshua won Gold Medals in both the Junior Division of the Fischoff National Chamber Competition and the Junior String Division of the M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition, making Kairos the only chamber group in history to win the top prizes at both Fischoff and M-Prize.
A recipient of the Stradivari Society of Chicago, Joshua is extremely grateful to be playing on a 1679 Pietro Guarneri violin from Cremona. As a full-scholarship recipient, Joshua earned his Bachelor of Music and is currently pursuing his Master of Music with Donald Weilerstein at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC).
For the five years prior to NEC, Joshua studied with Almita and Roland Vamos at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy as a Scholarship Fellow, recipient of both the Rachel Barton Pine Scholarship and the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Fellowship. Other scholarships include the North Shore Chamber Music Festival’s Haag/Galvin Young Artist and Arkady Fomin Scholarship, the American Opera Society of Chicago’s Eleanor Pearce Sherwin Scholarship, the Highland Park Music Club Scholarship, the Parkridge Civic Orchestra’s International Rotary Scholarship, and the Luminarts Cultural Foundation Classical Strings Fellowship.
Joshua is passionate about reaching and connecting with new listeners and towards that end, maintains a very active presence on his Instagram account @joshuabrownviolinist.