The 2017 Young Artist Competition was held on June 21 and 22. The finalists were announced on June 22. Each winner received a first place prize of $20,000.

Baritone, André Chiang has been touted by the Oregonian as “vocally commanding.” He brings his lyrical voice to repertoire spanning from Handel to Glass. Mr. Chiang’s recent engagements include returns to Virginia Opera as Fiorello/Officer in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Opera Birmingham as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore.

Pianist Kevin Ahfat is an artist that “leaves no question about his riveting presentation and technical finesse” (Seattle Times), Canadian-born pianist Kevin Ahfat is acclaimed to be “poised to become one of the young heirs of the classical piano realm, with a bold, boundary-pushing, millennial style matched by refined execution” (Vanguard Seattle). He has appeared as a multi-faceted artist at venues and festivals nationally and internationally, most notably at Boettcher Hall in Denver, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Fumin Hall in Kyoto, Japan, and Troldhaugen in Bergen, Norway.

Soprano Natalie Conte has studied vocal performance and immersed herself in the world of opera since childhood. Her devotion to the art shines through in her passionate performances. Currently based in Virginia, Natalie is in high demand as a soloist throughout the Mid-Atlantic. She most frequently appears as a soloist for the Lyric Opera Baltimore, performing both main stage roles and outreach programs.

Cellist Sujin Lee has established herself as a mature young artist in the United States and Europe, having performed at world-renowned venues such as the Louvre Museum, Kennedy Center, Zankel Hall at Carnegie, the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center, and Mechanics Hall. In demand as a soloist and chamber musician, she has been a frequent artist at the Caramoor, Lake Champlain, Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Perlman, Ravinia, Yellow Barn, and Verbier festivals. Prizewinner of the Schadt, Hudson Valley, Klein, and Johansen International competitions, she has performed concertos with numerous orchestras in Massachusetts, New York, and Florida.

Duo Pianists, Happy Dog Duo, Eric Tran and Nathan Cheung have performed four-hands originals, transcriptions, and classics alike with a focus on bringing humor and joy to the classical music world. They will perform the 2017 Arkansas Young Artist Tour. (see front cover for more information.