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Piano competition veterans earn scholarships, cash

By Luanne Williams
Calvin Chen

Middle and high school students competing for scholarships and cash prizes filled the Batte Center with the works of Mozart, Chopin, Bach and other revered composers last weekend. Three-time Wingate University Piano Competition veteran Calvin Chen walked away with top honors and a $21,000-a-year scholarship offer from Wingate’s Department of Music.

An 11th-grader from Matthews, Chen performed Mozart’s Sonata in F Major, K. 332 Movement 3, Chopin’s Polonaise in A Major, Op 40, No. 1 and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 "Moonlight" Movement 3. Chen is a student of Phyllis Teague. He won second place in the middle school category of the contest in 2018 and second place in the high school category as a freshman in 2019.

In addition to the scholarship, Chen also earned a $300 cash prize and two piano lessons from Dr. David Brooks, piano professor and founder of the competition. 

Charli Montalvo

Second place in the high school category went to Waxhaw resident Charli Montalvo, a senior and a student of Stephanie Lawrence-White. Montalvo performed Bach’s Praeludium XXI, BWV 866, Bartok Dance in Bulgarian Rhythm, No. 6 from Mikrokosmos and Schumann Romanze in A minor.

“Charli Montalvo was performing in the Wingate Piano Competition for the third time and showed tremendous growth over that period,” said Brooks, who was thrilled to be able to host performances in the Batte Center’s Plyer-Griffin Recital Hall after having to hold last year’s contest online. 

“It was obvious that these young pianists were absolutely ready to perform in-person once more after a long period of virtual performances,” he said. 

Montalvo was also awarded a $21,000 scholarship and two free lessons and received a $200 cash prize. 

The winners in the middle school category, eighth-graders who each performed two pieces, were also familiar to Brooks and fellow piano professor Annie Stankovic, who together have held the competition for the past five years.

Matthias George

Matthias George of Mint Hill, a student of Pamela Mullins, took first place with his performance of Beethoven Op 13, Rondo Allegro and Brahms Waltz in E minor, Op 39, No. 4, Poco sostenuto. He won first place in last year’s competition as well.

Elijah Chen

The second-place winner was Elijah Chen of Matthews, who played Scarlatti Sonata in C Major L.104 and Rachmaninoff Polichinelle in F sharp minor, Op 3, No. 4. Like his brother, Calvin, he is a student of Phyllis Teague. Elijah Chen placed second in the middle school category in 2019.

Thanks to the Charlotte Area Foundation for Music and Art, the middle school winners walked away with $300 and $200 cash prizes respectively and were each awarded a free piano lesson from Dr. Brooks.

Brooks was pleased to have 13 competitors at the event this fall and not surprised to see familiar faces.

“The high-level, but less stressful environment of the competitions is what makes many of the competitors return year after year,” he said.

Learn more about the annual competition on the University website.

Nov. 12, 2021