Semifinalists 2023

Yumiko Yumiba

Yumiko Yumiba is a Japanese violinist born in Oita, Japan. She spent her childhood in Osaka and moved to Tokyo with her family. She started playing the violin and piano at the age of 3. Yumiko’s sister influenced her to love music because she is a violinist too. At the age of 15, she decided to pursue her career in music. Then, she studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts. During her journey of studies in Tokyo, she received the Dean’s scholarship and special awards for outstanding students of the year.

She is currently studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Professor Ilya Kaler, as a recipient of the full scholarship, and at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media with Professor Elisabeth Kufferath.

She has recently performed with the Varna Chamber Orchestra, the Geidai Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, Orchester Göttinger Musikfreunde, the Toruń Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Opéra national de Lorraine.

She received many prizes at international violin competitions such as the Varna International Violin Competition, the International Karol Lipiński Violin Competition, and the Mirecourt International Violin Competition. In 2023, she won the Conservatory Concerto Competition at Cleveland Institute of Music and received the 2023 Helen Curtis Webster Award.
She also had recitals at the Music Festivals, including the Gdańsk Music Festival, the International Festival “Nova Music and Architecture”, and the International Music Festival Goslar-Harz.

Christine Wu

Violinist-violist hybrid Christine Wu has been hailed for her “strikingly bold sound” and “technical facility” (Theater Jones), and performs internationally with recent appearances in Singapore, Sendai, New York City, and Berlin. She has been heard as a soloist with several orchestras ranging from one of America’s top orchestras – the Dallas Symphony Orchestra – to the community-based Mesquite Symphony Orchestra. Recently, she was named a recipient of an Audience Prize at the 8th Sendai International Music Competition, and she has also been named winner of the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition, Lynn Harrell Concerto Competition, Juanita Miller Concerto Competition, and at the Aspen Music Festival and School’s Low Strings Concerto Competition as a violist and performed Martinů’s Rhapsody-Concerto with the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra in 2018.

In October 2021, she presented a full program of works by women and black composers for solo violin and solo viola as one of six finalists for the Berlin Prize for Young Artists competition. As an avid and devoted chamber musician, Christine has performed and collaborated with Joseph Silverstein, Mark Steinberg, Nicholas Mann, and David Geber. She regularly organizes and performs chamber music house concerts in New York City through the Groupmuse platform. Leadership roles as concertmaster for various ensembles culminated most recently with the New York String Orchestra in their 50th Anniversary celebration at Carnegie Hall.

Christine studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and Manhattan School of Music with Jaime Laredo, Sylvia Rosenberg, Masao Kawasaki, and Nicholas Mann. She also holds a minor in Business Management from Case Western Reserve University.

Jaewon Wee (First Prize Winner)

Violinist Jaewon Wee recently won the First Prize at the YSAYE 2022 International Violin Competition and the First & the Audience Prizes at the Washington International Competition. She was awarded the Second & the Special iPalpiti Prizes at the George Enescu International Competition 2021, where she performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto at the Romanian Athenaeum. She was the top prizewinner of the Menuhin International Violin Competition, Tchaikovsky International Competition for young musicians, Kloster Schöntal International Competition, and many others.

As a winner of the Juilliard Violin Concerto Competition 2019, she made her New York debut at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, performing Prokofiev’s second violin concerto. Jaewon has appeared as a soloist with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Italy Palermo Festival Symphony Orchestra, KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) Symphony Orchestra, among others.

As an academy soloist at the 2022 Verbier Festival, she played in numerous solo/chamber recitals, public masterclasses, and community performances. Jaewon performed at Verbier Festival’s main halls, such as Eglise de Verbier and Cinéma de Verbier. In 2021, she was invited as a soloist at the Palermo Classica Festival and the iPalpiti International Music Festival and performed concertos with the festival symphony orchestras.

Graduate of the Korea National University of Arts (Bachelor of Music), The Juilliard School (Master of Music), and New England Conservatory (Graduate Diploma) on the Dean’s-full scholarship, studied under Donald Weilerstein, Jaewon will begin studying for the Artist Diploma with Cho-Liang Lin at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Gaia Sbeghen

Gaia Sbeghen, born in September 2001, graduated in Violin in 2019 with full marks and honors at the “Bruno Maderna” Conservatory in Cesena, under the guidance of Maestro Daniele Pascoletti and continued her studies with a GPD Master at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in the class of M° Markus Placci beginning September 2021. There, she served as Concertmaster for the Boston Conservatory Symphony Orchestra at Boston’s Symphony Hall and Worcester’s Mechanics Hall.

She attended numerous Masterclasses with internationally renowned Masters including Pavel Vernikov, Svetlana Makarova, Lukas Hagen, Sally O’Reilly, Markus Placci, Daniele Pascoletti, Enzo Porta, Enrico Bronzi. Furthermore, she was the winner of various prizes and scholarships, such as the Rassegna d’Archi di Vittorio Veneto (TV) and “CEMI – Fiorenza Rosi” in Bologna.

She has participated in numerous national and international festivals, both as a soloist and in chamber music groups. These include the Magliano Alfieri Classic Festival (Magliano Alfieri, Italy) Sesto Rocchi Festival (San Polo d’Enza, Italy), Vivace Vilnius International Music Festival (Vilnius, Lithuania), the Roxbury Concert Series and the Harvard Chamber Music Festival (Harvard, Massachusetts).

Hana Mundiya

Having made her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 13 in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Hana Miyamoto Mundiya is a sought-after soloist and chamber musician on the world’s top stages throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, as well as internationally in Italy, Sweden, Japan, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Switzerland. She is the first prize winner of the 2022 Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition, and a top prizewinner of the International Johannes Brahms Competition, Leopold Mozart International Violin Competition, and Kosciuszko Foundation Wieniawski Competition.

Hana has performed for the UNHCR, UNESCO, and Mount Sinai Hospital as a member of the UN Chamber Music Society. She has collaborated with RAINN, Futures Without Violence, and Sakhi for South Asian Women to support Asian female survivors of gender-based violence, and plays with The VISION Collective.

Recently featured in the award-winning documentary film, Beethoven – Freedom of the Will, directed by pianist Per Tengstrand, she has performed in recitals at Bargemusic, Music on Park Avenue, and Paesaggi Musicali Toscani.

Born and raised in New York City, Hana holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Princeton University, and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Catherine Cho and Naoko Tanaka.

She is a graduate of Juilliard Pre-College and attended the United Nations International School. She started playing the violin at the age of three at the School for Strings.

Sarah Ying Ma (Second Prize Winner)

Sarah Ma is currently pursuing a double-degree at Oberlin College and Conservatory with Sibbi Bernhardsson after transferring from The Juilliard School with Donald Weilerstein and Li Lin, and with Masao Kawasaki in the Pre-College Division. Sarah has performed internationally with Ensemble 212, New York Concerti Sinfonietta, the Accademia D’Archi Arrigoni, and more. She was featured in Show 393 on NPR’s “From the Top” and was a winner of the 2021 National YoungArts Competition. Sarah has attended the Heifetz International Music Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, and was the Dorothy Richard Starling fellow at Aspen Music Festival for three summers as a student of Robert Lipsett, Donald Weilerstein, and Paul Kantor. In 2019, she was a laureate of the Cooper International Competition sponsored by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins and the Anthony Quinn Foundation, and performed on an 1828 Vuillaume. She is grateful to have worked with Almita Vamos, Robert Levin, Aaron Rosand, and Sarah Chang, among others. Her chamber group, the Poiesis Quartet, recently completed several artistic residencies abroad while on tour in Uruguay. They recently received the Gold Medal and BIPOC Award at the prestigious 2023 St. Paul String Quartet Competition and Bronze at the Glass City Chamber Music Competition. They are laureates of the 2023 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, where they also won the Lift Every Voice Prize. Sarah is the recipient of the Oberlin Conservatory Dean’s Scholarship & John F. Oberlin Scholarship and is a 2023 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar of the U.S. Department of State.

Kostia Lukyniuk

Ukrainian-born Kostia Lukyniuk is a world-renowned musician and a true rebel in the world of strings. Kostia revolutionizes the violin by blending genres, breaking stereotypes, and always wowing his audiences with unmatched energy and love for his craft. Kostia made his solo debut at 9 with the Chernivtsi Philharmonic Orchestra after winning 1st Prize in the International Youth Music Competition. Since then, he has won various prestigious musical competitions and given solo performances all around the world at various venues, festivals, and events.

At the age of 18, after a solo performance at the National Philharmonic Hall of Ukraine in Kyiv, Kostia came to the United States to pursue his dream and study with Professor Oleh Krysa at the Eastman School of Music. He graduated in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Music and a Performer’s Certificate. In between his studies, he went home to Ukraine just as the war began. After being accepted to an American Master’s Program, he was able to escape Ukraine and continued to perform in Berlin and France to continue raising funds for Ukrainian people in need until he was able to return to the USA. Since August 2022 he’s pursuing a Master of Music degree at Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in the studio of Professor Charles Castleman. He has since taken Miami by storm, performing all over the city and surrounding areas from private events to Art Basel and PBS benefits. Kostia is a winner of the Frost School of Music Concerto competition in 2023. 

Chaewon Kim (Third Prize Winner)

Violinist Chaewon Kim has completed her Master’s degree at Juilliard School under Ronald Copes. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University with honors. Now, she is pursuing Master of Musical Arts degree at Yale University under Professor Tai Murray.

Born in South Korea, she debuted with Gunsan City Symphony Orchestra at age 7. She continued her studies at Yewon School and Seoul Art High School and serve as a concertmaster. As a soloist, she collaborated with Junju City Symphony Orchestra and Sungnam City Symphony Orchestra.  Not only does Chaewon perform as a soloist, but she also has lot of interest in ensemble music. She was the founder of Blanc String Quartet which was one of the five semi-finalists of the Prague Spring International Music Competition year of 2021. She was also accepted by Kumho Young Artist Audition and had a String Quartet recital at Kumho Art hall (Seoul) on August 15, 2020. Recently, her quintet at Yale won second prize at 2023 Coltman Chamber Competition.

At Juilliard, she served as a Gluck Fellowship which is community engagement program and presents music to hospitals and nursing homes. Also, she was the fellow of Music Academy of the West in 2022 and Taipei Music Academy & Festival in 2021. She had collaborated with Takács Quartet at the Music Academy of the West performing Mendelssohn String Octet E-flat Major.


Aaron Chan

Aaron Chan remembers driving around the chaotic streets of Hong Kong with his parents listening to Fritz Kreisler tunes on the radio. His family had no particular interest in classical music, but Aaron liked it and playing an instrument would help his chances of getting into a good elementary school. So he signed up for violin lessons. 

It was fun. Aaron excelled. As a quiet, shy boy, he quickly discovered that music could transcend words and gave him a voice.

He left home at 18 to work with the charismatic Korean violinist Jinjoo Cho at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He followed her to Montreal when she joined the faculty at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montreal.

He won the concerto competition at CIM and at McGill, as well as at the Shepherd School at Rice University in Houston where he received his master’s. He’s won the Sylva Gelber Award – a prize given to exceptional young Canadian musicians – twice. He’s currently a resident of the Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

He’s spent summers at the McGill International String Quartet Academy, the ENCORE Chamber Music festival in Cleveland and at the Verbier Festival’s Soloist and Chamber Music Academy in Switzerland. He’s fascinated with jazz and loves playing in chamber ensembles.

Aaron relishes sharing musical ideas in a way that is completely spontaneous. He’s inspired by musicians who aren’t tied to established conventions. Onstage and in rehearsal, it’s the ideal he strives for.

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