Musicians

James Baik – Cello

James Baik is a Bachelor of Music candidate at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, where he studies with Clive Greensmith. Recently, James won the Colburn Youth Solo Competition and will be playing Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Colburn Orchestra. James began playing the cello at the age of eight in Houston, Texas. From 2017 to 2018, James began studied privately with Hans Jørgen Jensen. In that year, James won the 2018 DePaul Concerto Competition and reached the finals at the Johansen International Competition in Washington D.C. James was then named a YoungArts finalist and participated at YoungArts Week in Miami, Florida. He was also awarded the grand prize at the Walgreens National Competition, resulting in a solo performance at Northwestern University. In 2019, James was a finalist in the 2019 Stulberg International String Competition and received the first place prize at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. During his summers, James attended the Meadowmount School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival where he participated in the Finckel Wu Han Chamber Music Program.

Irina Casasnovas – Violin

Irina Casasnovas Jilobokov is a Merit Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy. She studies violin with Almita Vamos. Irina was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and began studying the violin at age 7. At the age of 9, Irina was accepted to the Costa Rica National Institute of Music and was the concert master of the Costa Rican National Youth Orchestra. During her years in the National Institute of Music, Irina won national and local competitions. Irina made her solo orchestral debut at age 12, playing with the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed solo with the Costa Rican National Youth Symphony Orchestra and with the Ottawa Chamber Symphony. In 2017, Irina received Honorable Mention in the Sphinx Competition, won second place in the Intermediate Category of the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, and was named a 2018 National YoungArts Foundation Merit winner. Irina has spent her summers in programs such as the Meadowmount Summer School, Brian Lewis Young Artists Program, Curtis Summer Young Artists Program, and the Aspen Music Festival. She has studied under pedagogues such as Brian Lewis, Gerardo Ribeiro, Steven Copes, Paul Kantor and Masao Kawasaki at these programs. Irina is fortunate to have been mentored by Professor Brian Lewis and to have been taught by individuals such as Rachel Barton Pine, Dylana Jenson, Soovin Kim, James Stern, and Ida Kavafian, among others.

Justin Chang (Assistant Director) – Piano

Justin Chang currently studies with Dr. Sung Hoon Mo of the Music Institute of Chicago and will begin studying at the Bienen School of Music in Northwestern University with Dr. James Giles fall of 2020. Justin was the winner of the 2019 Robert Stanger Young Artists Concerto Competition and performed solo with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. Justin’s other awards include first prize at the Society of American Musicians Competition, second prize at the Sejong Music Competition and Clara Schumann International Piano Competition, and honorable mention at the Crain-Maling Chicago Symphony Orchestra Competition, Depaul Concerto Competition, and the Walgreens Concerto Competition. Justin is a regularly performing pianist and most recently played for Professor Asaf Zohar of Tel Aviv University. Justin also serves as the pianist for his high school’s Jazz Ensemble, which has participated in All-State and has won top prizes at local festivals.

Isabel Chen – Violin

Isabel Chen is a fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and studies with Almita Vamos. She has been an award recipient in music competitions held in the Chicago area, namely the Sejong Cultural Society, Society of American Musicians, Walgreens National Concerto Competition, DePaul Concerto Festival, and the CSO Young Artists Competition. She has participated in the Academy’s public chamber orchestra and string quartet performances. She is a former member of the Xena String Quartet that won second place in the 24th Rembrandt Chamber Music Competition, the Grand Prize in the 2019 A.N. & Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition, and semifinalist in the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Isabel was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in the 2017-2018 season and World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in 2018. She attended the 2019 Bowdoin International Music Festival and performed in solo and chamber concerts in the Young Artists Series. Isabel has also performed in master classes for Noah Bendix-Balgley, Yuan Qing Yu, Sarah Chang, Jorja Fleezanis, Sean Lee, and Brian Lewis.

Cameron Chiu (Founder/Director) – Cello

Cameron Chiu is a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy program where he studies cello with Horacio Contreras. Cameron won the first place prize at the 2018 Society of American Musicians National Competition, the 2019 Fox Valley Concerto Competition, and was named a winner at the 2020 YoungArts Competition. Cameron is a prize winner at the Chinese Fine Arts Society Music Competition, the DuPage Symphony Young Artists Competition, and the DePaul Concerto Competition. He has performed solo with the Fox Valley Orchestra and the Fremd High School Symphony Orchestra after winning his high school’s Concerto-Aria competition. In 2017, Cameron was selected as the assistant principal for the IMEA District 7 orchestra and participated in the Illinois All-State Honors Orchestra. Other musical experiences include playing on the radio station 98.7 WFMT, receiving the bronze medal at the Saint Paul National String Quartet Competition, participating at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and serving as the cellist for the Agora, Nova, and Gemini String Quartets for the past three years. Cameron has participated in music camps such as the Bowdoin International Music Festival and Center Stage Strings. He has played in solo and chamber master classes for distinguished musicians like Natasha Brofsky, Richard Aaron, Norman Fischer, Tanya Carry, Brandon Vamos, and The Calidore String Quartet.

Brandon Cheng – Cello

Brandon Cheng is a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and studies the cello with Richard Hirschl, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra/faculty at Roosevelt University. Brandon was selected as a member of a delegation of string players to represent Chicago at the 2013 International Suzuki Convention in Matsumoto, Japan. Brandon was a member for the past six years of the Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory Program where he served as principal cellist for the Merit Philharmonic. Brandon is also the current principal cellist for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. Brandon’s past experiences include being a member of the Nova Piano Trio from 2016-2019, appearing on radio station WFMT 98.7’s program Introductions, receiving honorable mention at the 2018 and 2019 Midwest Young Artists’ Discover Chamber Music Competition, winning second place at the 2018 A.N. & Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition, and participating in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition for two years. Brandon received an honorable mention at the 25th Annual Merit Conservatory Concerto Competition and at the 2018 Society of American Musicians Competition. Brandon has also performed in master classes featuring artists such as Emilio Colon, Brant Taylor, Rachel Barton Pine, Helen Callus, Nelson Lee, and more.

Thomas Filipiuk (Outreach Coordinator) – Piano

Thomas Filipiuk has been studying piano with Dr. Janice Razaq for nine years. Throughout his musical career, Thomas won the third place prize in the junior division and first prize in the senior division of the ISMTA competition. Recently, Thomas won third place in the 2019 Steinway Junior Piano competition and second place at the 2020 Sejong Music Competition. He has also won prizes in the Society of American Musicians piano competition and the Walgreens National Concerto Competition, among others, and has soloed with his high school orchestra as a result of winning the Concerto-Aria Competition. In 2018, he attended the American Matthay Association festival in Jackson, Tennessee as a scholar and performer and in 2019 attended the Piano Academy at Indiana University. Thomas is also a seasoned violist, playing the instrument for 7 years in his school orchestras. In 2018, he was selected for the IMEA All-state Honors Orchestra as a violist. Outside of solo piano, Thomas regularly accompanies friends in performances and participates in his high school’s musical pit orchestra.

Elena Galentas – Viola

Elena Galentas was a Scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and currently studies with Ralph Fielding at the Lynn Conservatory of Music in Florida. During her time at the Academy, Elena studied with Roland Vamos and Davis King and participated in various masterclasses/performances as a soloist and chamber musician. Her chamber group the Fiero String Quartet competed in several competitions including the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition as well as the Rembrandt Chamber Competition where they received honorable mention. Elena served as the assistant principal violist of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra where they performed at the Chicago Symphony Center and collaborated with Cedille Records and the League of American Orchestras, as well as touring and performing in Sweden, Finland, Russia and Estonia.

Alon Hayut – Cello

Alon Hayut was a Scholarship Recipient Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy and is currently a freshman at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance where he studies the cello with Richard Aaron. He was a scholarship fellow from 2017 to 2019 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy. There, as well as 3 years prior in Ann Arbor, he studied with Horacio Contreras. Before moving to Ann Arbor in 2014, for 6 years Alon studied with his first teacher Yari Bond at the Thurnauer School of Music in Tenafly, NJ. As a soloist, he has performed with the MIC Academy, Pioneer High School Symphony, Ann Arbor Camerata, and Dexter Community Orchestras. In 2019, Alon received the Honorable Mention prize in the National YoungArts Competition and won the second-place prize in the Marquette Symphony Orchestra Solo Competition. He was a finalist in the 2018 Michigan MASTA competition where he won the audience award. Alon sat Principal Cello in the Pioneer High School Symphony and the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestras and participated in the 2017 Michigan All-State. During his summers, Alon has attended the Aspen Music Festival, the MPULSE program Center Stage Strings, and Orford Musique. Alon has performed/studied with renowned cellists including Laurence Lesser, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Lluís Claret, Fred Sherry, Stephen Doane, Eric Kim, Natasha Brofsky, among others.

John Heo – Violin

Violinist John Heo was a Scholarship Recipient Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago Academy and now studies at the Jacobs School Music with Mauricio Fuks. John started violin when he was 8 years old. Since then, he has studied with various instructors such as Jacqueline Fisher, CSO violinist Cornelius Chiu, and MIC faculty member Almita Vamos. John has performed solo with symphony orchestras like the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra, the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, etc. John has won first place and various awards from competitions, including the Arthur D. Montzka Young Artists Concerto Competition, American Opera Society of Chicago Scholarship Award, Blount Slawson Young Artist Competition, DePaul Concerto Festival Open Division, DuPage Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, Fox Valley Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition, Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Walgreens National Concerto Competition, Sejong Music Competition, and more. As an avid chamber musician, John has advanced to the semifinals in Fischoff National Chamber Competition for the past two years. During the summer, he has participated at festivals such as the Brian Lewis Young Artist Program twice, Bowdoin International Music Festival and Center Stage Strings.

Ashley Kim – Piano

Ashley Kim is a Scholarship fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and currently studies piano with Northwestern Professor James Giles and Dr. Matt Hagle.  In 2020, Ashley was named a National YoungArts Foundation Winner and performed in the Young Steinway Concert Series. She was a piano winner of the DePaul Concerto Competition and consequently performed with the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra. Ashley’s experiences include being broadcasted on 98.7 WFMT, receiving the Audience Favorite award at the Mostarts Festival in New York, and performing with the Mostarts Festival Orchestra. She is an award winner at the Walgreens National Concerto Competition, the Crain-Maling CSO Young Artists Competition, and the Depaul Concerto Competition. In 2017, Ashley was awarded second prize at the Emilio Del Rosario Concerto Competition, solo debuted with the EDR Foundation Orchestra. She has won first place in competitions such as the Sejong Music Competition and Society of American Musicians Competition. She has been a recipient of numerous other awards and honors including the Illinois State Music Teachers Association. She participated in The Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy where she played in masterclasses with renowned musicians like Kathryn Brown, Boris Slutsky, Jerome Lowenthal, Chi Wu, and Inna Faliks. Ashely also plays the violin, sitting associate concertmaster of her high school orchestra, receiving a merit scholarship, and participating in the Illinois Music Education Association.

Jonah Kartman – Violin

Jonah Kartman is a scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and studies violin with I-Hao Lee at DePaul University. Since his debut as a soloist with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra at age 12, Jonah Kartman has been an active performer in the Milwaukee/Chicago area and a frequent performer on the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival’s Emerging Artist Series in Burlington, Vermont. In the past years, Jonah has become a seasoned competitor, winning multiple local competitions such as the Audrey G. Baird Concerto competition, which resulted in a solo performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He was also a two-time winner and scholarship recipient in the Civic Music Milwaukee Competition as well as a prizewinner in the Menomonee Falls Concerto Competition. Additionally, Jonah won Milwaukee’s Bach Double concerto competition, resulting in a solo performance with his youth orchestra. Throughout the years, he has been a prizewinner in competitions such as Sejong, AMI, and Bolz Young Arts where he will be competing as a finalist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Jonah was nominated to participate in the Chicago Philharmonic’s Spotlight Program and performed with them as a featured artist.  As an avid chamber musician, Jonah has performed in string quartets in various festivals and has taken part in chamber programs provided by Milwaukee Youth and Chicago Youth orchestras. Jonah has participated in lessons and master classes with Frank Almond, Chad Hoopes, Robert Lipsett, Elmar Oliveira, David Perry, Danielle Belen, among others.

Kaylin Liu – Violin

For the past two years, Kaylin has been a Merit Scholarship recipient at Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy pre-college program. During her two years in Academy, Kaylin has been involved in multiple string quartets and has performed in venues such as the Harris Theater in downtown Chicago and the WFMT live broadcast radio station. The quartet also advanced to the quarter final round of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition both years. Aside from chamber music, Kaylin is a prize winner from the Chinese Confucius Competition, Society of American Musicians Competition, Glen Ellyn Wheaton Music Scholarship Contest, Walgreens Concerto Competition, DePaul Concerto Competition, and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Kaylin made her debut with Camerata Chicago Academy Orchestra at the age of thirteen, performing Bach’s Double Concerto as first violin. She also served as concert master of the DuPage Youth Symphony Orchestra in Naperville during her freshman year in high school and assistant concert master of her high school chamber string orchestra. Throughout summer festivals and master classes, Kaylin has had the opportunity to work with violin professors Gerardo Ribeiro, Rami Solomonow, Midori, Johanne Arel, Julie Trudeau, Joan Kwuon and Laurie Smukler.

Zechariah Mo – Viola

Zechariah Mo is a Merit Scholarship Recipient at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy where he studies with Almita Vamos, Roland Vamos, and Davis King. Zechariah was a semifinalist of the 2019 Irving M. Klein International String Competition. His accomplishments include grand prize from the IL ASTA competition, and first prize from the Society of American Musicians Competition, DePaul Concerto Competition, and the West Suburban Concerto Competition. He has also won top prizes from the Fox Valley Youth Concerto Competition, Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition, the Sejong Competition, and the Rising Star Concerto Competition. Zechariah has performed with the Music Institute of Chicago Academy Chamber Orchestra, La Crosse Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin, West Suburban Symphony Orchestra, Fox Valley Orchestra and has also performed twice with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago. Zechariah has participated in the Aspen Music Festival studying with Victoria Chiang and received runner up in the Concerto Competition.

Colin Song – Piano

Colin Song is a scholarship Fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Academy and studies with Ralph Neiweem. In his solo career, he has received awards in the Music Festival in Honor of Confucius Competition, Sejong Music Competition, Depaul Concerto Competition, and the Emilio Del Rosario Concerto Competition. As an accomplished chamber musician and a previous member of Duo Appassionato, he is a first prize winner of the 2017 Chicago National Youth Competition for Piano Duos and has had the opportunity to be featured on WFMT’s Introductions. In 2018 he was invited to play at the Smith Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as be broadcasted on NPR’s From the Top. He was also a finalist in the MTNA Senior Piano Duet Competition, held in Orlando, Florida, and a quarterfinalist at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Locally, Colin enjoys playing at Presbyterian homes and serving the community with his music. As a chamber effort in 2018, he held a benefit concert as a part of the Circle of Friends for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.