Wednesday, May 11, 7 to 8 p.m. Rancho Mirage Library

By Pam Bieri

Five Steinway Society Piano Awards Festival winners each in the Junior and Senior Divisions will perform in the annual Festival Winners Concert on Wednesday, May 11, 7 to 8 p.m. at the Rancho Mirage Library, 71100 Highway 111.

The concert is free and open to the public.

The Steinway Society of Riverside County holds an annual piano learning opportunity and winners’ concert for children aged 7 to 18. The festival, held two weekends in March this year, was hosted by Rancho Mirage High School. Participants must live in San Bernardino or Riverside County, and be studying with a qualified music teacher for at least six months prior to the festival.

Winners were selected based on their performances in two master classes and a recital.

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The Junior Awards Festival (through 8th grade) was held on March 6 with 14 participants. The guest master teachers and adjudicators were Dennis Alexander from Albuquerque, NM, and Craig Richey from Cal State Long Beach.

The five students receiving Junior Level Awards are Emma Erickson, 10, of Murrieta, student of Yiyi Ku, also of Murrieta; Matthew Gurning, 13, of Fontana, student of Agatha Hou of Rancho Cucamonga; Aaron Kwan, 12, Rancho Cucamonga, also a student of Hou; Jadon Wu, 9, of Mentone, student of Dr. Angelica Prodan of Redlands; and Lydia Xu, 14, of Riverside, student of Dr. Elvin Rodriguez of Riverside.

Three students received Honorable Mention: Isabella Cao, 12, of Fontana, student of Hou; Antoine Forehand, 11, of Indian Wells, student of James McCormick of Palm Springs; and Zak Mustille, 11, of Concord, student of Elizabeth Medici of Wildomar.

The Senior Awards Festival (grades 9 – 12) was held on March 13 with 11 participants. The guest master teachers and adjudicators were Mark Neiwirth from Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho, and Dr. Anthony Padilla from Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisc.

The five students receiving Senior Level Awards are Benjamin Champion, 15, Idyllwild Arts Academy, student of Dr. Jeanette Louise Yaryan; Thomas Kim, 17, of Chino Hills, student of Dr. Elvin Rodriguez of Riverside; Helen Lai, 17, of Idyllwild Arts Academy, student of Nelms McKelvain; Milaena Martinez, 17, of Palm Desert, student of Dr. Stewart Gordan of Claremont; and Joel Oswari, 15, of Moreno Valley, student of Dr. Elvin Rodriguez.

Honorable Mention went to Kristen Chen, 18, of Idyllwild Arts Academy, student of Dr. Yaryan.

Five study awards of $500 each are awarded at both Junior and Senior levels.

Serving Riverside County and the Coachella Valley since 2002 and founded by Ruth Moir and formed by a group of prominent residents in the valley, the Steinway Society brings music education to more than 20,000 children annually through a variety of programs designed to engage, educate and inspire youngsters of all ages.

The non-profit organization presents concerts and music labs in schools, and holds an annual Piano Festival and Winners Concert for children aged 7 to 18.  The festival was hosted by Rancho Mirage High School with recitals open to the public; the Winners Concert is at Rancho Mirage Library on May 11.

Its outreach scholarship programs provides study awards for private piano lessons, music, and pianos for deserving children with a financial need. Volunteer and docent programs introduce children to classical music, notation, opera and jazz, and to the basics of an orchestra through interactive audio visual presentations.

A number of community and fundraising events raises money for Steinway Society scholarships and programs, and increases awareness of the need for music education in the classroom.

For information and calendar of events, visit www.steinwayriverside.org.