Two cello students from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University have been accepted into the inaugural Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition, which will take place in May in Brussels, Belgium.
Brannon Cho and Sihao He, both students of cello professor Hans Jørgen Jensen, are among the 70 candidates, representing 22 nations, invited to the first round of competition from a pool of more than 200 applicants.
The first round of competition will be held May 8 to 13 at Flagey Arts Centre in Brussels. Twenty-four semi-finalists will advance to the next stage of competition, which includes a recital and a concerto accompanied by the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia. The jury will select 12 cellists to advance to the final round, held at the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts, where each finalist will perform a concerto of their choice with the Brussels Philharmonic.
Established in 1937, the Queen Elisabeth Competition is considered one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions for musicians. The organization sponsors piano, violin, composition, voice and cello competitions, and aims to help talented young musicians launch their international careers.
For more information about the Bienen School’s competitors, see below:
Cho, from Short Hills, New Jersey, is a senior cello performance student of Hans Jørgen Jensen. In 2016, he was selected as a fellow for the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival and also received a Luminarts Fellowship in Classical Music. Cho has won second prize at the Naumburg International Competition, first prize at the Minnesota Orchestra’s WAMSO competition, third prize at the Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition, first prize at the Johansen International Cello Competition, second prize at the Stulberg International Competition and the National YoungArts Foundation and the grand prize at the ASTA National Solo Competition. He was the highest-ranked American cellist in the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Cho was selected by the National YoungArts Foundation to be featured in an episode of HBO’s “Joshua Bell: A YoungArts Masterclass.” An avid chamber musician, Cho has performed with Christian Tetzlaff, Gidon Kremer, Joshua Bell, Philip Setzer, Stephen Williamson and Barbara Westphal, among others.
He, from Shanghai, China, is a first-year master’s student of Hans Jørgen Jensen. As a soloist, He is a winner of many renowned competitions, placing first at the International Antonio Janigro Cello Competition in Croatia in 2006. In 2008, he won first prize at the National Cello Competition for Young Cellists in China, and in 2009, he won fourth prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in South Korea. In 2013, he won the grand prize and first place at the ASTA National Solo Competition in New York City and took the grand prize in the Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition. He has played master classes for Yo-Yo Ma, Laurence Lesser, Gary Hoffman, Frans Helmerson, Myung-Wha Chung, Jian Wang, Andrés Díaz, Enrico Dindo, Richard Aaron, Robert deMaine, Desmond Hoebig, Liwei Qin, Haiyan Ni, the Alban Berg Quartet, Hatto Beyerle, the Tokyo Quartet and Peter Oundjian. He has performed in chamber groups with Joseph Silverstein, Pinchas Zuckerman, Donald Weilerstein, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, Hsin-Yun Huang and Robert McDuffie. He graduated from the McDuffie Center for Strings, where he studied with Hans Jørgen Jensen and Julie Albers.