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Young pianists snag scholarships at virtual competition

By Luanne Williams

Two area high school students earned $21,000 scholarships this weekend to study music at Wingate. Jocelyn Chen was the first place winner of the high school division of the Wingate Piano Competition; Hailey Kim took second place. Winners in the fourth annual contest, conducted virtually this year, were announced on Sunday.

Matthias George won first place in the middle-school competition; Jose Felten took home second. All four winners will receive cash prizes, thanks to competition sponsors. Assistant professor David Brooks, who helms the competition with his wife, assistant professor Annie Stankovic, will provide them with piano lessons (one session for middle schoolers and two at the high school level).

In Sunday’s video announcement of the competition results, Stankovic said she was impressed by the pianists’ dedication and hard work.

“It has been wonderful for us to listen to everyone and hear everyone’s progress, those of you who have done this competition before, and to hear newcomers as well this year,” she said. “Thank you to all of the participants and the parents and the teachers and the coaches who have all been involved this entire time in your education.”

All of the winners happened to study with either Pamela Mullins or Randy Jones.

George, who is from Mint Hill, impressed judges with his Schubert Impromptu performance. Charlotte resident Felten played an extraordinarily challenging Liszt etude, “La Campanella.”

Stankovic described Chen’s performance of “Prokofiev Waltz” from the Cinderella Suite as “thrilling and exceptionally crafted,” and Kim’s “Chopin Fantasie-Impromptu” as “sparkling and lyrical.” Both competitors are from Charlotte.

The contest attracted 13 pianists – seven in the middle school category and six high school students. Competitors submitted videos of themselves performing contrasting pieces from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary classical repertoire. High school students performed three; middle schoolers, two.

In the video announcing winners, Stankovic also thanked sponsors: The Charlotte Area Foundation for Music and Art, which provided the middle-school awards, and Miller Piano Company, which provided the high school cash prizes. First-place winners received $300; second place, $200.

Brooks told the young musicians that it is their “hours and hours of hard work that keep our craft alive.”

“If you are thinking about taking your craft to the next level as an undergrad, then consider Wingate University,” Brooks told competitors via the video on the Piano Competition website. “Annie and I have built a comprehensive program here for undergraduate pianists, and importantly, scholarship assistance at Wingate University is increasing, which is rare in times like this and so important to all of us. Once again, congratulations, thank you and keep making music.”

Below are links to each performance listed by pianist and composer:

Jocelyn Chen 




Hailey Kim




Matthias George



Jose Felten



Learn more about the Piano Competition and about studying music at Wingate.

Updated Nov. 23, 2020​