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Bienen cellists to compete in 2022 Queen Elisabeth Competition

Alumnus Brannon Cho (center) performs with the Brussels Philharmonic.

Four cellists from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University have been invited to participate in the second edition of the Queen Elisabeth Cello Competition this May in Brussels, Belgium.

Alumna Riana Anthony ’17 MMus and students Jakyoung Huh, Haddon Kay and Luiz Fernando Venturelli ’21 are among the 68 candidates, representing 26 nations, selected to participate in the first round of competition from a pool of more than 150 applicants. All Bienen competitors are current or former students of cello professor Hans Jørgen Jensen.

The first round of competition will take place May 9-14 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. Bienen students Brannon Cho ’17 and Sihao He ’18 MMus advanced to the finals of the 2017 cello competition, with Cho taking sixth prize.

Riana Anthony

Born and raised in Yamagata, Japan, Riana Anthony received a bachelor’s degree from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings and master’s degree from the Bienen School of Music. She is currently an artist in residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium under the direction of Gary Hoffman and Jeroen Reuling. She has been awarded a fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation and is the prize winner of competitions including the Samuel and Elinor Thaviu Competition, the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Competition and Viva Hall Cello Competition. Highlights of previous seasons include her Kennedy Center debut in 2016, recital tours in cities throughout China and Denmark, as well as her solo appearance in concert series such as the “The City, The Romanticism” with the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra, Flagey Duo Festival with the MuCH Ensemble, Musicians Club of Women in Chicago, and the Future Master Concert Series at the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai. 

Jakyoung Huh

Jakyoung Huh, a master’s student from Seoul, Korea, completed her bachelor’s degree at New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Laurence Lesser. She has been awarded first prize in the 2019 Tecchler-Forster Cello Competition and first prize and a special prize in the 2014 Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition. Among her many earlier competition awards, she was recognized with a top honor at the 20th International Johannes Brahms Competition in 2013 and third prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in 2012. As a soloist, Huh has performed with New Korea Philharmonic Orchestra, Harbin Symphony Orchestra and Busan Symphony Orchestra. She has participated in several festivals, including the Perlman music program, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, Summit Music Festival and Great Mountains Music Festival. She made her debut recital at age seven on the Kumho Prodigy Concert Series, followed by her concerto debut with Guri Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Haddon Kay

Haddon Kay, from Lincolnshire, Illinois, is a senior who will continue his master’s degree studies with Professor Jensen next year. In 2017, he was a finalist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Concerto Competition and performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra. In 2016, he was the first-place winner of the MYA strings division in the Walgreens Concerto Competition. In 2015, Kay was the selected soloist for the New North Shore Chamber Orchestra, was a featured soloist in the Young Steinway Concert Series and placed first in the senior cello division of the Festival to Honor Confucius Competition. He was a 2014 winner in the DePaul Concerto Festival and performed with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago. Kay held the principal cellist position of the 2018 National Youth Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas. As a member for the Galvin Cello Quartet, he won the silver medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and recently advanced in the Concert Artists Guild’s Victor Elmaleh Competition.

Luiz Fernando Venturelli

Luiz Fernando Venturelli is a master’s student and alumnus from São Paulo, Brazil. He studied at the Instituto Baccarelli from the age of 8 until he moved to the United States at age 17. In Brazil, he studied with Eduardo Belo and André Micheletti. Venturelli completed his bachelor’s degree under Professor Jensen at Northwestern. He has been a prize winner in multiple competitions, including the Paulo Bosisio competition, the Northwestern University Thaviu Strings Competition, the concerto competitions of the Orquestra Filarmônica de Goiás and OSESP, the 2014 NYIAA competition, and most recently the 24th annual Sphinx competition. As a soloist and chamber musician, Venturelli has performed in multiple states of Brazil, the U.S. and Canada. He won the silver medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the Galvin Cello Quartet and recently advanced in the Concert Artists Guild’s Victor Elmaleh Competition.

Katelyn Balling is senior communications coordinator for the Bienen School of Music.