The Semi-Finalists have been announced for this year’s ABC Young Performers Awards. The biggest turn out was from the violins, with four musicians – Anna Da Silva Chen, Riley Skevington, Emily Sun and Victoria Wong – making it through to the Semi-Finals, closely followed by the pianists, Robbin Reza, Tony Lee and Shuan Hern Lee. Cellists Benett Tsai and Waynne (Woo Seok) Kwon will also compete, alongside guitarist Andrey Lebedev, clarinettist Oliver Shermacher and violist Stefanie Farrands.
The competitors are no strangers to competition, with the list of Semi-Finalists a who’s who of Australian rising star musicians. For instance, in addition to taking out first prizes at competitions such as the Kendall National Violin Competition, the Fine Music Network Young Virtuoso Award, Australian National Youth Concerto Competition and Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s String Concerto Competition, violinist Anna Da Silva Chen is a veteran of the Young Performers Awards, making it to the Grand Finals in 2014 to perform with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Violinist Emily Sun
Violinist Emily Sun has also made headlines in the past, winning first prize in The Bromsgrove International Musicians’ Competition and performing for His Royal Highness Prince Charles last year, winning the gold Medal of the 2016 Royal Overseas League Music Competition the year before and taking out Best Newcomer in the 2012 Limelight Awards.
Cellist Benett Tsai became the youngest ever winner of the Fine Music Network Young Virtuoso Award in 2016 and the Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra’s Secondary Schools Concerto Competition the following year, while guitarist Andrey Lebedev won Third Prize at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich last year, also taking out the award for best performance of the commissioned work Interfret für Gitarre by the Slovenian composer Vito Žuraj. He also won the Adelaide International Classical Guitar Competition in 2012.
Violist Stefanie Farrands. Photo © Karen Steains
Principal violist of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Stefanie Farrands won the 2016 Freedman Classical Fellowship and was featured in Limelight’s Rising Star column that year, while pianist Shuan Hern Lee has won competitions in San Marino, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
The 12 musicians selected will go on to perform at City Recital Hall on July 16 and 17, competing for a chance to perform in the Finals with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House on July 24.
The prestigious Young Performers Awards began in 1944 and have launched the careers of Australian artists such as Roger Woodward, Simon Tedeschi, Claire Edwardes, Diana Doherty, Amy Dickson and Tamara-Anna Cislowska. They are now managed by the philanthropic organisation Music & Opera Singers Trust, who stepped in after Symphony Australia announced in 2015 that they would no longer be continuing the awards.