WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 11, 2010) – The International Young Soloists Award Program annually recognizes emerging young artists with disabilities from all over the world who demonstrate exceptional musical talent.The soloists each receive $5,000 and the opportunity to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This year, VSA presents its 26th annual International Young Soloists Concert on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center on June 8 at 6:00 p.m. The concert, which takes place during the 2010 International VSA Festival, features a soprano, classical pianist, singer/songwriter/pianist, and violinist.
“The International Young Soloists Award Program has recognized outstanding young musicians with disabilities since 1984,” said VSA President Soula Antoniou. “We want to support and encourage musicians as they pursue their artistic careers.”
The 2010 VSA International Young Soloists include Ju Hyeon Han, who has a musical journey that includes three continents, two universities, and many accolades.
The 24-year-old soprano, a native of South Korea, moved to New Zealand at the age of 11 to continue her scholastic and musical studies. In New Zealand, Han graduated with first class honors from the University of Auckland.
She is currently pursuing a master’s of music degree in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, where she was selected for the Conservatory’s Liederabend series in 2009 and 2010. Han, who is blind, has performed as a soloist with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, received first prize in the Oratorio section of the 2006 North Shore Performing Arts Competition in New Zealand, and won the 2009 Bel Canto Institute Museum Performance Award in Italy.
Hailing from Ashkelon, Israel, pianist Dotan Nitzberg has performed in prestigious venues around the world. The 21-year-old musician earned his bachelor’s in music degree from the Academy of Music in Tel-Aviv, and he is currently pursuing an artist certificate in music on full scholarship at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
He has received first prize in various Israeli piano competitions, and he recently won a special prize at an All-American piano competition in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Nitzberg, who has Asperger Syndrome, has appeared with the Ashdod Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, the Ashkelon Chamber Orchestra, and the Perugia Symphony Orchestra.
Singer, songwriter, and pianist Blessing Offor describes his music as “Soul with a capital S.” Born in Nigeria, Offor immigrated to the United States at the age of two to receive treatment for congenital glaucoma. Since then, the 21-year-old musician has called Hamden, Connecticut, his hometown.
Offor’s music is influenced by the sounds of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, as well as his experiences studying music at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Offor, who is blind, has opened for such musical legends as The Temptations, Average White Band, and Tower of Power, in addition to playing solo gigs all over Nashville. He plans to release his second CD later this year.
At just 16 years old, Aria Stiles has already established herself as a formidable talent in her home state of Minnesota. The violin prodigy has been a fixture in numerous county fair talent shows and fiddle contests since she was eight years old, winning many awards and accolades. Stiles, who has ligamentous laxity, is a member of the Minnesota Young Symphonies, and she has appeared as a soloist with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and the MacPhail Orchestra. The high school sophomore has been awarded two Gold Cups in violin and one in piano through the National Federation of Music Clubs.
Previous International Young Soloists have enjoyed notable careers as professional musicians, including violinist Adrian Anantawan, American Idol contestant Scott MacIntyre, and singer/songwriter Melody Gardot. Anantawan and Gardot will be featured in the upcoming International VSA Festival, June 6–12, 2010. www.vsarts.org