Fourteen-year-old Zhu Wang of China, the youngest of the six finalists in the inaugural Hilton Head International Young Artist Piano Competition, took first place and $5,000 Saturday night during the third and final round at First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.
Performing for the first time outside his native country and for the first time with an orchestra, Wang played the first movement of Mozart Concerto No. 21 in C major, K.467, to a sold-out audience. He was accompanied by the host organization, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra led by Maestra Mary Woodmansee Green.
Wang, who began training at age five, also won a four-week summer scholarship to the Aspen Musical Festival and School in Colorado, valued at $4,500.
Wang's professor of two years, Zhe Tang, said the two hadn't counted on winning and hadn't made plans for the prize money. Through Tang, Wang said he would use it to participate in more competitions.
Competition jury chair and American pianist Douglas Humpherys said Wang "played with a lot of passion". Humpherys and four fellow jurors narrowed the playing field of 13- to 17-year-olds from twenty to six finalists on Thursday. Judges selected the first through sixth place finishers after 25 total hours of performances that began March 7.
Coming in second place was 17-year-old Drew Petersen of the United States, who won $3,000. Jin-Hong Li, 16, of China, won third place and $2,000. Ruixue Zhang, 16, of China came in fourth. Micah McLaurin, 16, of the United States came in fifth. Kate Liu, 16, of Singapore finished sixth. The fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers got $500 each.