2018 Sejong Music Competition Judges
Junior and Senior divisions: Geoffrey Duce | Haysun Kang | Robert Kania
Primary and Elementary divisions: Jue He | Ligia Takei
Junior and Senior divisions: Hermine Gagné | Jasmine Lin | Simon Michal
Primary and Elementary divisions: Lauren Cless | Caroline Rothstein
Geoffrey Duce is Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Area Coordinator at Illinois State University. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, London’s Wigmore Hall, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall, as well as across Europe, and in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Geoffrey’s career has featured both solo and collaborative performances. As a concerto soloist he has appeared with the Sinfonie Orchester Berlin, the Chattanooga and Olympia Symphony Orchestras, the Scottish Sinfonia, Edinburgh Philharmonic, New York Sinfonietta, and the Dundee Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician and accompanist he has recorded for BBC Radio 3 and performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He won the Young Artists Award from Britain’s National Federation of Music Societies, and was awarded the Prix de Piano at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France. He is currently the Peoria Symphony Orchestra’s first Artist in Residence for the 2018-19 season, and in the Spring will perform concerti by Ellington, Mendelssohn and MacDowell with the orchestra.
He has given masterclasses at institutions including Hawaii University, St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, Shorter and Darton Colleges, GA, the Academy of Music Northwest in Seattle, at the City of Edinburgh Music School, for the Orquesta Filharmónica in Bogota, Colombia and in the Middle East. During the summer of 2016 he was an International Visiting Faculty member at the University of Taipei, and last summer was in residence at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan, as well as teaching at the Chicago Chamber Music Festival.
Originally from Scotland, Geoffrey initially studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University before receiving a DAAD scholarship to the Universität der Künste, Berlin. He received his doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, where he was also a faculty member, and has also held positions at the State University of New York (Westchester Community College) and at Indiana University South Bend.
As an internationally acclaimed concert artist, Haysun Kang’s performances have taken her throughout the continents of the Americas, Europe, and Asia. She has performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kaufman Center, Donnell Library Center, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, Teatro de la Paz in San Luis Potosi, and Fryderyk Chopin University in Warsaw. Her performances were broadcasted live on WQXR-FM radio in New York and televised on cable TV. She has been a featured soloist with orchestras such as Chicago Chamber Orchestra, South Texas Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, Kankakee Symphony Orchestra, Filharmonia Sudecka, Orchestra Sinfóonica de San Luis Potosi, and American Legion Symphonic Band.
A native of Korea, Haysun Kang received her first piano lessons at the age of four and won the Asian Young Artist Piano Competition when she was twelve. She earned her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Seoul National University, Korea. In the United States, she received her Master of Music degree from DePaul University where she studied with a Chopin International Competition laureate, Dmitry Paperno, and Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University under the guidance of the renowned pianist and teacher Dr. David Kaiserman. She also received her musical training from Julian Martin at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Alexis Golovin at the Academy of Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
Haysun Kang has been praised for her "immaculate technique and flawless dexterity" by the Polish music journal, Ruch Muzyczny. She has also garnered accolades as a winner of numerous competitions including Frinna Awerbuch International Competition, the Young Keyboard Artist International Piano Competition, Verna Ross Orndorff Austrian-American Music Award, Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation Award, the Hoverson Piano Award, and Society of American Musicians.
As an active adjudicator, Haysun Kang has been invited to judge many competitions including Sorantin International Young Artist Competition, Steinway Young Artist Competition, Kankakee Valley Symphony concerto competition, Northwestern University Concerto Competition, and Sejong Music Competition. She is Associate Professor at Loyola University in Chicago, where she serves as the Director of Applied Music. Haysun Kang is a Yamaha Artist.
Dr. Robert Kania has performed as a piano recital soloist and accompanist on three continents: Europe and North and South America. His recent appearances include performances at the Wexford Opera Festival in Wexford, Ireland; the Academy of Music in Poznan, Poland; Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.; and Berea College in Berea, Oh. He studied with such distinguished masters as Sequeira Costa, Andrzej Tatarski, and Jack Wonerock. Through these masters, Dr. Kania’s teaching lineage goes back directly to Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin.
Dr. Kania started his musical career at the age of nine singing in the Nightingales of Poznan, where he performed as a soloist and a choir member under the direction of Prof. Stefan Stuligrosz. As part of the ensemble he performed in most of the great cathedrals and concert halls of Europe and was part of TV and radio appearances and commercial recordings.
Dr. Kania’s previous teaching experience includes Master Classes at Posadas Conservatory of Music (Argentina) and Whitman College in Washington State, as well as teaching piano at the University of Kansas and the College of DuPage. Dr. Kania teaches piano, music theory, ear training and sight singing, orchestration, counterpoint, and form/analysis in the Music Department at Judson University.
Dr. Kania was a co-owner of Amrek Artists, Inc. As a Vice-President, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, such as consulting, accounting, scheduling, payroll management, and tax issues.
Dr. Kania lives with his wife, soprano Maria Kanyova and their four children in the Dundee area, just a few miles from Judson’s campus.
Honors include winning the Poznan Young Pianists Piano Competitions. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at the University of Kansas in 2001, where he was awarded a grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation for his doctoral research.
Dr. Kania has been a faculty member of the Judson University as the Music Department Chair and professor of music.
Jue He, a native of Shanghai, China, has been acclaimed for her combination of vigorous and eloquent performances. The Denver Post praised Ms. He for her "first-rate performance" in collaborating with the Aspen Festival Orchestra. She has performed and given lecture recitals both as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States. Dr. He also tours as a member of the Liang-He Duo, which is a professional ensemble of a two-piano team. The duo has performed in festivals and concert series throughout Asia and North America and has frequently been featured on WFMT, Chicago's classical music radio station. Dr. He is currently on the faculty at Benedictine University.
Dr. He started her studies at the High School attached to Shanghai Conservatory. She graduated from University of Denver, receiving her Bachelor's degree as a full scholarship recipient. Later on, Dr. He received both her Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Piano Performance and Collaborative Arts from Northwestern University, graduating with top honor. Her teachers include Dr. Sylvia Wang and Dr. Elizabeth Buccheri.
Brazilian pianist Lígia Takei has been heard in recital and with orchestra throughout the US and South America.
Ms. Takei is the winner of several competitions, including the MTNA-IL Young Artist Performance competition, the Indiana University concerto competition, the Claudio International Piano Competition in Chile, and the Villa- Lobos International Piano Competition in Brazil. As a soloist, she has performed with Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira, and Indiana University's Philharmonic Orchestra.
After initial studies at University of São Paulo, Brazil, with Gilberto Tinetti, Lígia Takei earned a Bachelors Degree in Piano Performance with honors from Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, as a scholarship student of Ludmila Lazar. She received her Master's Degree at Indiana University, where she was a student of Menahem Pressler and was awarded with graduate teaching assistantship.
Now based in Chicago, Ms. Takei is a member of the faculty at the Merit School of Music and at Dominican University. She is also a staff collaborative pianist at Roosevelt University.
Hermine Gagné was born in Montréal, Canada. She began studying violin at the age of 4 with Jacqueline S. David. She entered the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal at 9 years old and graduated with honors in 2000. While pursuing a master’s degree under Kathleen Winkler at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, she was awarded the Sallie Shepherd Perkins Prize for the Highest Achievement in Music.
In addition, she received scholarships from the Canadian Council for the Arts and was loaned the 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius violin from 2003 to 2006.
Gagné made her solo debut at the age of 16 with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra. During her time studying in Montréal, she was a member of the Foresome Quartet (1997–2000), which received the grand prize of the Canadian Music Competition. She also collaborated with some of Québec’s leading performance ensembles, such as Les Violons du Roy, La Pietà and the Orchestre symphonique de Laval.
Hermine Gagné was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2003. In addition, she performs on both the Orchestra’s chamber music and educational series around the Chicago area. She recently performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Parkdale United Church Orchestra in Ottawa.
Jasmine Lin is a “magnificent player with superb tone, strong interpretive powers”, “electrifying assertiveness”, and “remarkable intensity”, maintain the American Record Guide, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. As a member of Formosa Quartet; artist faculty at Roosevelt University; Curtis Institute of Music alumna; confidante to a 1662 Cremonese violin; arranger of Grappelli tunes; prizewinner in the Naumburg and Paganini competitions; Grammy nominee; and recording artist on the Con Brio, EMI, Centaur, New World Records, Summit, and Delos labels, Jasmine likes to solicit magnificence beside intensity while leaving raindrops on her nose un-wiped-off. Her biography contains precisely one hundred words.
Simon Michal was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 2016 by the Symphony’s Music Director Riccardo Muti. Simon has received numerous awards from competitions including the Grand prize at both the Kocian International Violin Competition and the International Radio Competition Concertino Praga. Simon made his New York solo debut with the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall under the baton of Fabio Luisi as a winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition 2014.
As a chamber musician and orchestral player, Simon has performed at many concerts and festivals throughtout Europe and Northern America including the Verbier Festival, Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Juilliard Chamber Fest. In 2014 Mr. Michal has been selected as a member of the first New York Philharmonic Global Academy.
Native of Bezdekov nad Metuji, Czech Republic, Simon took his first violin lessons with his father at the age of four. At 14 years old, he was admitted to the Prague Conservatoire where he studied with Jaroslav Foltyn. His other principal teachers were Charles Avsharian and Pavel Prantl. In 2015 Simon earned his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School where he studied with the former concertmaster of New York Philharmonic, Glenn Dicterow and Sylvia Rosenberg. In addition he has taken masterclasses with Boris Kuschnir, Julian Rachlin, Gil Shaham, Martin Chalifour, Robert Chen and Jorja Fleezanis. In the fall of 2015 Simon started his studies toward a Master of Music degree with Glenn Dicterow and Lisa Kim at Manhattan School of Music, but left school in January to join the CSO.
Lauren Cless is an active performer and freelance violinist, and a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. She previously spent three years playing in the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Lauren earned a Master of Music in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Northwestern University.
Lauren is also a passionate pedagogue and a member of the faculty at the Western Springs School of Talent Education and DePaul School of Music Community Music Division. In 2017, she was a recipient of the Certificate of Achievement from the Suzuki Association of the Americas, an award that recognizes teachers with a commitment to excellence, life-long learning, and self-improvement.
Caroline Rothstein maintains an active, diverse orchestral and chamber music career in the Chicago area and currently serves as concertmaster of Manitoba Underground Opera in Winnipeg during the summer festival season. She received her master's degree in violin performance from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, where she was the recipient of the Anna Schauffler Lockwood endowed scholarship for excellence in string music. Her principal teachers and mentors include Chicago Symphony violinist Blair Milton and Milwaukee Symphony concertmaster Frank Almond. She also attended Northwestern as an undergraduate, where she concurrently earned Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts degrees and graduated with honors in both programs.
Caroline is a devoted educator; she studied pedagogy under Stacia Spencer, serving for two years as Ms. Spencer's teaching assistant before joining the faculty of the Northwestern University Music Academy as an instructor of violin, viola, and chamber music. In addition to teaching her private students, she is the group class coordinator at the Music Academy. An avid long-distance runner, Caroline researches the intersection of athletic and musical training, and presented on this topic at the 2018 American String Teachers Association national conference.