Jan. 5, 1992
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s degree at Mannes College in New York studying under Prof. Pavlina Dokovska. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree. In 2011 he won the concerto competition in the 6th Beijing International Festival and Academy (China). In 2014 he won third prize at the 58th Cincinnati World Piano Competition (USA) and also won the audience favourite award. He has appeared with many orchestras in the USA, and as a solo performer he has toured many cities in America, as well as Tbilisi and Beijing among others. In 2014 he received a grant from the Centre for Musical Excellence, which has sponsored two of his albums: his solo début disc “Sounds of Transcendence” and a recording of variations by Nikolai Kapustin on the Romeo Records label.
Which people would you invite as guests to your dream dinner party?
My grandfather, who passed away when I was only ten. Other than him, I would just like to invite friends and family whom I enjoy being around.
What is your favorite meal?
Too many... Anything my mom cook.
Do you have a favorite motto or proverb that you live your life by?
It's not a "motto," but I try to always remember that our life isn't about us, it’s about something greater than ourselves and how we love others. I think one can always be happy as long as they are not self-centered.
Which person or people inspire you the most?
More than specific people, I am most inspired by learning and experiencing the different aspects of life and human nature. Great art which explores these questions is a never-ending inspiration. I feel that the complexity, and ultimately, the beauty of life is something we must experience through music. A great performance of a masterpiece of music connects with the deepest, not-quite-defined part of the humanity which we all share. Chasing after that experience in my life is the most inspiring thing I can imagine. My amazing parents and family have shaped my beliefs and worldview, and have taught me the way to appreciate beauty and to be grateful for every blessing.
If you were 80 years old, what advice would you give to young people today?
I would tell them never to forget how lucky they are to be alive and to be human, no matter what happens to them. This is because they will always be loved and be able to love others.
What would you like people to say about you?
I want to be known as a musician who reaches his audience, entertaining them with a positive stage presence and sense of humor, and also challenging them and making them think. Most of all I want to be seen as a down-to-earth person who with engages people on a human level.
How do you overcome the stage fright? / What is your ritual before going on stage?
There is no easy answer, other than constantly practicing the calm, concentrated state of mind which is needed to produce a great performance. By filling the mind entirely with musical matters, there isn't any room for fear. A verse from the Bible, in St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, is an incredibly simple yet powerful encouragement: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) I like to play a Bach Chorale or a hymn in the warm-up room right before going on stage, to prepare myself to connect to music in the highest, most transcendent way.
When you perform... who are you playing for?
The composer. As a performer, I have the incredible mission of being the representative of the composers who are bigger and greater than all of us, and the incredible task of "keeping them alive" falls to me as the performer. In the inevitable high-pressure atmosphere of many concerts and competitions, I aim to tune everything out, feel that the composer is sitting next to me, and play only for them.
What job would you least like to do?
Anything in a cubicle.
Is there a joke about musicians that you would like to share with us?
Yes, but I’m afraid a violist might be reading this!
What's the "most played" non-classical track on your phone?
I don't listen to much non-classical music.
You are on a desert island and can bring only 3 items, what do you bring?
Shipwrecked-on-desert-island stories are so 17th-18th century. Impossible to answer anyway.
What is your favorite noise/sound? What is the most annoying noise for you?
The most annoying is definitely my alarm
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I'm lucky enough to be able to answer this by naming the city where I actually live: New York.
What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word Tchaikovsky?
Snow, for some reason, much of his music makes me think of winter. After the immediate mental image of a snowfall, I just think about the incredibly lyrical, moving, honest, and heartfelt music he gave us.
What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word competition?
A competition like this offers, most importantly, exposure and the chance to be heard (around the world, thanks to medici.tv!). I also think of the enormous honor it is to be a part of the amazing history of the Tchaikovsky Competition, and to perform on the stage where artists like Van Cliburn, Ashkenazy, Sokolov, and countless others made their mark.