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By Daniel Hautzinger

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

On July 23 in Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, six young pianists vied to win a chance to play a concerto with The Cleveland Orchestra and for cash prizes as part of the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition. The competitors were already assured a monetary reward, having survived three elimination rounds that culled an original field of 28 young musicians ranging in age from thirteen to eighteen.

The pianists were required to perform a 30 minute solo recital for this latest round, which was broadcast live on WCLV. At the end of the night, the judges advanced Sae Yoon Chon of Seoul, South Korea, Zitong Wang of Inner Mongolia China, and Tony Yike Yang of Toronto. Those three will perform with The Cleveland Orchestra on July 24 at Severance Hall for the final round of the competition, where the $10,000 first prize will be decided. Read the rest of this entry »

L-R: Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang, Tony Yike Yang

L-R: Finalists Sae Yoon Chon, Zitong Wang and Tony Yike Yang

Oberlin – July 24. Late on Wednesday evening from the stage of Oberlin Conservatory’s Warner Concert Hall, WCLV’s Robert Conrad announced the judges’ choice of the top six prizes in the Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition. The decisions followed yesterday’s recital round.

Sixth prize winner is Min Jun Lee (15, Seoul, South Korea). Fifth place winner and audience prize winner is Evren Ozel (15, Minneapolis, Minnesota). Fourth place winner is Gyu Tae Ha (17, Uijeonbu, South Korea). Each contestant wins a cash prize of $1,000. Ozel takes home an additional $500.

The finalists, who will play concertos with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall on Friday evening, July 25 at 8:00 pm are:

Sae Yoon Chon (18, Seoul, South Korea). Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73. Zitong Wang (15, Inner Mongolia, China). Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26. Tony Yike Yang (15, Toronto, Canada. Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23.

Friday evening’s concert will be broadcast live on WCLV, 104.9 FM and audio streamed on Following the performance, the winners of the first ($10,000), second ($6,000) and third ($3,000) prizes will be announced.

by Daniel Hathaway with Daniel Hautzinger & Mike Telin

Oberlin-Cooper-2014-LogoThe ten young pianists who advanced to the Concerto Round in the Oberlin Cooper Piano Competition on Tuesday ranged in age from 13-18 and hailed from five countries. The contestants played complete concertos in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory with a second pianist providing the orchestral accompaniment. The performances gave a taste of what the audience can expect on Friday evening at Severance Hall when three finalists perform with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra.

The repertory included concertos by Beethoven (Nos. 2 and 5), Rachmaninoff (Nos. 2 and 3), Chopin (Nos. 1 and 2), Prokofiev (No. 3) and Tchaikovsky (No. 2). The most popular work — and the only piece the judges and audience heard more than once — was Chopin’s first concerto, which received three performances. Read the rest of this entry »

Oberlin – July 22

Oberlin-Cooper-2014-LogoThe Oberlin Cooper International Piano Competition has announced the ten contestants who have advanced to today’s concerto round. The two sessions begin at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm and will be streamed live from Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory. ClevelandClassical will attend and report on both sessions. The six pianists who will advance to the recital round on Wednesday evening will be announced following the second concerto round. Here is Tuesday’s schedule:

1:30 PM
SAE YOON CHON with Elena Zyl: Beethoven Concerto No. 5
MIN JUN LEE with Elena Zyl: Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2
NICOLA LOSITA with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 1
ZITONG WANG with Elena Zyl: Prokofiev Concerto No. 3
ALLISON TO with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 1

7:00 PM
EVREN OZEL with Colette Valentine: Chopin Concerto No. 2
RACHEL BREEN with Elena Zyl: Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3
YOULAN JI with Xin Li: Beethoven Concerto No. 2
GYU TAE HA with Elena Zyl: Chopin Concerto No. 1
TONY YIKE YANG with Colette Valentine: Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1


by Mike Telin

LI-George2Since his First Prize win at the inaugural Thomas and Evon Cooper International Competition in 2010 at age 14, American pianist George Li is quickly establishing himself as a young pianist to watch. On Saturday, March 1st beginning at 8:00 pm, in Finney Chapel, George Li will return to Oberlin for his debut performance on the Oberlin College Artist Recital Series. Li’s program includes Schoenberg’s Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke, op. 19, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in c, op. 111, Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a theme of Corelli, op. 42 and Ravel’s La Valse.

Praised by the Washington Post for combining “staggering technical prowess, a sense of command and depth of expression, Li was also a First Prize Winner in the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. In 2012 Li won the Gilmore Young Artist Award and received the Tabor Foundation Piano Award at the Verbier Academy. He has performed as soloist with orchestras including the Spartanburg Philharmonic, the Akron Symphony, the Xiamen Philharmonic in China, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela to name a few. Li’s 2013-14 season include recitals at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and he appears as soloist with the Richmond Symphony, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, and the Nordic Chamber Orchestra. He is currently in the Harvard University/ New England Conservatory joint program. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin-Cooper-Tie-2013-MastroianniResuming their ancient tug-of-war for artistic supremacy, Apollo and Dionysius each sponsored a performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto last Friday evening during the final round of the Oberlin Cooper International Violin Competition at Severance Hall with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra. It might have been more complicated with a third performance of the Tchaikovsky had not Ming Liu eventually emerged as one of the final three. Her performance of Prokofiev’s second concerto came between Ching-Yi Wei’s and Kyumin Park’s very different takes on the other Russian piece on the program.

First up by way of conductor’s choice was Ching-Yi Wei, 18, from Tainan, Taiwan. His was the Dionysian version, compelling for its physical energy, drive and sense of romantic abandon. After intermission, Kyumin Park, 16, from Seoul, South Korea, brought musical lucidity, variety of tone and a fine sense of pace and scale to Tchaikovsky’s famous showpiece, which seems to respond enthusiastically to different violinistic points of view. Park’s Apollonian reading also boasted a collegial connection to the other onstage musicians, a factor to which the orchestra palpably responded. Read the rest of this entry »

Oberlin-Cooper-Tie-2013-MastroianniCleveland, OH, July 27 — In a first for the four-year-old Oberlin Cooper Competition, following the final round with Jahja Ling and The Cleveland Orchestra last night at Severance Hall, the jury announced that Ching-Yi Wei and Kyumin Park, both of whom had played the Tchaikovsky concerto, would share first prize. Second prize went to Ming Liu, who played the second concerto of Prokofiev. Results were announced by Thomas and Evon Cooper, the competition’s benefactors, who awarded the prizes. The final round was broadcast live on WCLV, 104.9 FM and (Photo by Roger Mastroianni).

by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin-Cooper-Six-2013The last hurdle on the way to Severance Hall for competitors in the Oberlin Cooper International Violin Competition is the recital round, where six performers revisit their solo repertoire in 30-minute recitals chosen by the jury from the semi-final round. A large crowd turned out to hear the three-and-a-half hour program in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory on Wednesday evening, a highly-structured event carried live on WCLV, 104.9 FM and hosted by Robert Conrad.

A second hearing confirmed a lot that these ears noted in the concerto round the day before, but there were also some pleasant surprises.

Kyumin Park (16, Seoul, South Korea) maintained his rather cautious approach in pieces by Beethoven, Paganini and Chausson. His Beethoven (Op. 12, No. 1, Allegro) was strong and clean, his Paganini (Caprice No. 24) brilliant enough, his Chausson (Poème) perhaps more calculated than spontaneous despite expansive collaborative playing from Elizabeth DeMio. Here’s a talented player who just needs to be fearless and go for it. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

OberlinCooperLogoUnless you’re an audiophile on a mission, you’re not likely to sit down and listen to ten complete performances of violin concertos in one day (much less three of Tchaikovsky’s, two each of Brahms’s and Sibelius’s and single performances each of Mendelssohn’s, Shostakovich’s first and Prokofiev’s second). Or unless you’re a judge or audience member at an international violin event like the Oberlin Cooper Competition.

On Tuesday afternoon and evening, July 23, that unlikely possibility became a reality as ten violinists, ages 15 to 18, played the concerto round of the Cooper Competition in Oberlin’s Warner Concert Hall, giving a fascinating look into the musical personalities and technical prowess of the competitors, who were vying for the opportunity to become one of three finalists to play these pieces with The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday evening in Severance Hall.

All ten players, having passed the entrance auditions and survived the semi-final rounds, have certified that they are fine musicians who have the technical wherewithal to play every note of their chosen concertos. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooper-2012-ThreeSome of the most promising young musicians in the world will perform in Finney Chapel on April 11 at 7:00 pm as a bonus event in Oberlin College’s Artist Recital Series (ARS). The performance features piano and violin laureates of the annual Thomas & Evon Cooper International Competition, which alternates between violin and piano from year to year.

Conservatory Dean David H. Stull said, “The Cooper Competition has done a wonderful job of bringing the top young talent from around the world in both piano and violin to the Oberlin Campus. The final three each year have also had the opportunity to perform with The Cleveland Orchestra. We are bringing them back to the Oberlin campus to have a series of professional experiences that they are all excited about. And to give them an opportunity to perform again. This is a chance for them to get to know Oberlin and for us to get to know then as students.” Read the rest of this entry »

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